Saturday, August 22, 2009

The art of rehairing dolls

Awhile back someone mentioned it would be cool to see a blog about the rehairing process. So that is what I am going to talk about today. The process is not particularly hard, it just takes time. And of coarse learning to do it quickly and neatly takes more time. Still, no matter how much you do it it will never be a super fast process. But let me explain the process, with lots of pictures!
First you take the head off the doll. People think a lot of strange things about me because of the horrible things I do to dolls. But a lot of people think I am strange because I make dolls at all. I can't win so I don't try. It may be possible to rehair a doll without taking the head off but I have never tried it that way and I imagine it would take longer. So we'll just talk about my way. After you get the head off next you have to cut all the original hair off very close to the head. The closer the better because you want as much of it gone before you get to the next step.
Because the next step is to pull the tiny leftover tufts of hair out of the doll head. This is by far the most annoying and tedious part of rehairing. And part of the problem I had with this one was not having the proper tweezers. You'd think a good pair of tweezers would be just the thing, but they were horrible and more trouble than not. I usually work from the inside of the head...

...but the awful tweezers made me have to do things the hard way. So I had to pull out the tiny tufts of hair from the outside, one at a time. This took a very long time, much longer than it should have and resulted in sore fingers. I'll survive though. It did prompt me to go out and buy the proper tweezers. I wish I knew what happened to the old ones. And for anyone curious the right tweezers for the job are the scissor style with the flat angled tips.

Once the hair is gone you have a tiny bald doll head to work with. Now time for new hair!
The best hair I have found is viscose hair. Mohair is OK but you will never get super smooth, super shiny hairstyles with mohair. The viscose hair can be bought on many dollhouse and doll making websites as well as eBay. You can get an ounce, a pound or small sample sizes. I usually get a ounce because that is still a LOT of doll hair and then I split the shanks with my doll buddy, Joan Yount. And she does the same so it all works out nicely. I wonder if she has any platinum blond....

...The other thing you need to rehair the dolls is a hairing tool or a rooting tool. I got mine from a woman who sells them on eBay for the reborn dolls. Joan found this amazing tool and it has really helped bring added realism to the dolls. The rooting tool comes in several sizes but the perfect size for 1:9 scale dolls is the micro tool. It is normally used for rooting eye lashes on larger dolls. The tricky part of rerooting hair is making sure it stays in. You already have preexisting holes so you need to make sure they have the same amount of hair in them so the hair doesn't fall right out. Not always an easy task.

This next photo is of the hair on the tool ready for rooting. It is not easy to see. You need to separate a tiny amount of the viscose hair, smooth it out and slide it into the center of the twin needles on the rooting tool.

Then you stick the hair on the tool into the holes in the doll head. You have to make sure both of the needles go into the hole or you are likely to break the needle. Keep going until you have the hair all over the head.
I don't hair the entire head because the more hair you have, the more out of scale it will get. You don't want your newly haired doll to look like an out-of-the box factory doll do you? I usually hair from the side of the forehead all the way around the head (lowering the hairline in back) and then I hair a strip across the back of the head. After that I take a small doll brush (I think the one I use came from a My Little Pony) and I brush the hair out. This removes any loose bits of hair as well as making it neater. After that the hair can be styled any way you want. For this doll I just twisted it into a bun. I could have made a smaller bun but I liked the look of this one. I trimmed the tip of the hair and glued the end down on top of the head. I have also done braids, braided buns and other styles as well.
The last step is to glue the hat on and (in this case) add a hatband. Things are a little more involved when putting on a helmet for an English doll because you need to make the safety harness as well. But I didn't have one of those to do today.The process of rehairing is not complex and you don't need expensive tools (my rooting tool was $10, replacement needles are $1 each and my tweezers were $4) and the results can be very nice. It also opens up the option of changing the look of a doll. It's amazing how different a doll can look just by having a different hair color and a new hairstyle. That can be a very big thing when most of the dolls in the show rings come from the same basic doll bodies.

I also had a request for a blog about the fitted boots. Western boots are not as interesting as English boots so I will have to wait for a day when I have English boots I need to make and time to take the pictures. But the boot blog is coming. If there are topics you would like discussed please let me know. I love letting people into my strange and occasionally twisted world of doll making.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Baystate Halter Live

I was accused today of never posting to my blog. I admit that it is at least partially true. I don't post often. I don't know what to say, I don't want to bore everyone and I like pictures but don't take them obsessively. But today I will do a quick post just because it seems like the right thing to do. And I do have some pictures just to make it more fun.
Today was the day of my annual live show. This is the third year I have hosted Baystate Halter Live and I still love it. I think it was a bit (just a bit) nuts to plan a show of this size that would fall only 7 weeks before my wedding but it turned out well. We did have a snafu with the rosettes. Somehow we were short a bunch of top 5 and top 10 rosettes. But we did have more than enough champ and reserve champ rosettes so a bunch of people got those instead. No one seemed to mind getting some extra long, fancy rosettes. Though next year I will check and check numbers to make sure we have what we need. I will probably always wonder what happened.
So anyway, here is a photo from the first year of Baystate.

I had a good sized hall booked but the canceled on me at the last minute. That was when I learned the value of a good solid contract. The hall we ended up with was pretty small, sort of cramped and not the best layout, but it was something I could get through a friend connection at the last minute. It did work though it was not ideal. People did say that being that close together did help them get to know people they had never really talked to before. I think people prefer a bit more space though.
So my first big goal for the second year of Baystate was to get a BIG hall with GREAT lighting. I also wanted it to be in Ludlow, MA because that is where I live and since I was hosting the show I wanted it to be in my town. I wanted to be close to the hall. That was my first big goal. So I started looking around and then Ethan said I should try the Elk's lodge. They have a big cruise night (bike and car show) every Tuesday night in the summer so he was there all the time and knows several people that have been lodge members forever. So since I could not find a big enough hall or someone to answer the phone at the big halls I knew I called the Elk's. When I saw the hall I was in love. I decided I NEEDED to have my show there. I can't find the original pictures I took ( I can do a pretty good floor plan with a few photos of a room with some size reference in them) but even without all the lights of I could tell it was really good and the hall was HUGE. And since that was my first big goal I loved the hall. I got a contract right away for my chosen show date because I had learned my lesson the last time.
Last year was the second year of the show and the first year in the new big hall. I think we had about 42 entrants and TONS of room. Here is a shot from Almost the end of the room. There is also lots of room on the sides for the entrants tables. It is such a big hall :)

And here is a photo from this year's show. A couple of judges hard at work and some people checking out horses. It is also nice to have a good camera to take nice pictures. Last year, even with the good lighting, my pictures were not super. But my camera was old and tired.

This one is a photo (a bad one, lol, I was not close enough) of the rosette table. This was not ALL of rosettes, some of them had already been given out when I took the pictures but it was still a pretty good stack. I do still sort of have a dream of having a performance show as well as the live show. The hall is certainly large enough for that but either I would have to have the performance show in the Spring and then my halter show in the summer or make the whole thing a 2 day show. I still need to think on that some more because the hall rental alone would be very pricey. But I think it would be fun. And I don't imagine it would be so much more work to plan a 2-day show instead of just a 1-day show but I know it would be more work. So I will think some more on that. I do eventually want to have Baystate Performance Challenge. I already have rosette colors picked out and everything. I just need to see if I can handle it, run some numbers to see if it is even going to work out and then get as many volunteers as I can. I would love to do it. Maybe if I offer judges free entry for the performance show if the judge a couple of small sections OR a small payment if they don't want to show. Hmm, that's a thought. I think I will go post to the regional board and get some opinions. Then to bed and tomorrow I must continue with wedding stuff.