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Rubberized horse hair. A tutorial.


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Rubberized Horse Hair, A how to if you can’t find it.

 

I have been building terrain for wargames and painting models for about forty years starting with Airfix and Testors kits.  When I started doing diorama bases for my models I read as much as possible to make them realistic.  I noticed that rubberized horsehair was always mentioned in railroad and modeling magazines to represent brush and branches.  As I grew up in the states I was never able to get my hands on it as the only supplier I found was a vintage upholstery place in San Francisco and they were prohibitively expensive.    Now that I am in the UK it is readily available but I wanted to write a toot for folks that can’t find it.

 

Materials:

A pony (a horse will do but Pony’s are more fun because they are naughty)

Mane and tail comb

Dishwashing liquid

A wash bin.

Latex Gloves

Mold Making Latex

Paper towels, disposable sticks and a surface that either will not stick to Latex or newspaper to protect surfaces. 

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Step one. 

Buy your daughter, wife or significant other a pony.  This will be the expensive part but you have to make sacrifices for terrain.  You can justify the purchase because they have always wanted one. 

Have your daughter, wife or significant other take care of both ends of the pony to keep it alive.  Make sure they brush the pony’s mane and tale regularly and collect the excess hairs in a bag for later use.

Once you have collected enough hair (I do a carrier bag full at a time) you are ready for stage 2. 

Note:  Stage 1 can take some months so try not to rely on this technique if you have a deadline. 

 

Step two.

Cleaning the hair.

Prepare your materials.  You will need to wash the pony hair as they are greasy creatures who live outside.

Collect your bag of hair and put it into a wash bin. 

Using dishwashing liquid, and water soak the hair in hot soapy water.  Once it has soaked for a couple of hours, swirl the hair around to clean it off and to mix up the individual fibers.

I usually do this twice because pony’s are greasy creatures who live outside. 

Strain the water from the bin. 

Pick out hay and straw from the hairs.

Put the hair back in the bin and soak in clean water for at least two hours to rinse swirling it around again to mix fibers.

Pick out hay and straw.

Soak it at least two more times picking out hay and straw in between each rinse. 

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Step 3.

Forming

After straining the water the last time and picking out hay and straw the hair has to be compressed in some way.  I use two tatty old cookie sheets with layers of paper towel in between the metal and the hair. 

Let the hair dry while being compressed.  What you are looking for is about an inch thick matt of hair.

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Step 4.

Adding the rubber.

Once you have a pretty gross looking lump of dried hair you will need your wash bin again. 

Push the hair matt into the bin and pour watered down mould making latex onto it.  The exact ratio will be up to the latex you are able to find but what I can tell you is to mix water into the latex until it is the consistency of milk.  Opaque and runny.  I also use a drop dish soap in the mix to break the surface tension of the solution so it will permeate the hair. 

Pour a modest amount of the diluted latex onto the mass of hair and using your hand squeeze the matt until the all the hairs are coated in the solution. 

I should have mentioned putting on a glove first.

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Step 5.

Drying the finished product.

You will need a clean surface that you can either sacrifice (newspaper and the like) or that will not adhere to latex.  

My personal preference is a silicone cookie sheet that I use as a work surface for larger projects. 

Build a small raised scaffolding out of disposable materials such as branches, bamboo sewers or bamboo polls over the surface. 

Place the matt of rubberized hair onto the scaffolding in the sun.

The important bit: 

You must turn the mass of rubberized hair over several times while it is drying to ensure that latex does not build up in between the fibres on the bottom of the mass. 

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Step 6.

Remove from the disposable scaffolding cut and use.  Note there will always be blobs of latex that have collected in parts and set.  Just cut and tease them out. 

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I will do this about every two years as I tend to have the latex on hand and do not want all the money I spent on the pony to go to waste.  The product will be similar to rubberized coconut hush but much finer.  I suspect this toot will work for wife, daughter or significant other hair but the prospect creeps me out. 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Great Khan Artist said:

I have been wanting this stuff for ages, thank you! And you're right--Bill the Pony is an anomaly. Most ponies are right sour buggers. 

I posted the same toot on the Leadadventure Forum and someone put out a link for a stateside company that is supplying it on that side of the pond.  Cheaper than a pony. 👍

Edited by snitchythedog
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Posted (edited)

Interesting tutorial & ...mildly disturbing.   But before I stop myself, what is this used for?  I'm not in the model rail hobby, so I'm sure I'm missing something big.   Just struggling to see what.  

 

I see mention of terrain & bushes, but I can't make the mental leap from the shared images above to terrain.  I'm sure it's obvious & I'm dense....

Edited by Nivek
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Posted (edited)
On 5/7/2022 at 10:53 PM, Nivek said:

But before I stop myself, what is this used for?  I'm not in the model rail hobby, so I'm sure I'm missing something big.   Just struggling to see what. 

It is used to simulate masses of branches in trees and bushes.  You cut chunks out of the mass of rubberized hair, tease it out to separate the fibres a bit, glue it in place, trim to shape then use spray adhesive to add the flocking.  It gives you more natural looking foliage.  

Used it in all of these.

Heather

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Oaks

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Birch  Pines were scratch built using a different technique. 

DSC06421.jpg

Edited by snitchythedog
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Looking good!  I typically use seafoam and static grass to create my trees, but as I have just inherited an abundance of free stiff metal wire to make my own wire frame armatures I was looking to experiment with some new techniques so I will definitely be bookmarking this for future reference. 

 

P.S -  I really dig those birch trees, you did a great job on the trunks and bark.  Very authentic!

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Posted (edited)
On 5/31/2022 at 3:20 PM, Dan S said:

P.S -  I really dig those birch trees, you did a great job on the trunks and bark.  Very authentic!

I did a tutorial on those years ago.  It is still up on the old teregenesis site.  Just duck duck or googlefoo  snitchythedog and birch trees.  Very cheap and easy. 

Edited by snitchythedog
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On 6/9/2022 at 2:21 PM, snitchythedog said:

I did a tutorial on those years ago.  It is still up on the old teregenesis site.  Just duck duck or googlefoo  snitchythedog and birch trees.  Very cheap and easy. 

 

Thanks, I will certainly take a look.

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