Caring for Mohair Models
A lot of model horses are around where they have mohair manes and tails, and since haired models are a passion of mine, I thought I would share some information on how to keep your horse’s hair looking and staying nice.
Artists that use mohair on their models horses don’t usually just stick it on with glue; a lot of thought, time and patience has gone into every strand of hair, just like sculpting. The hair has to be prepared (even with multiple colours sometimes, depending) and it is only half complete once stuck and dried onto the horse, as the styling of the hair has to then come in.
When it comes to me styling the hair, after cutting the hair to the correct length I want and brushing it through for any loose clumps to come out, reference pictures can also help as the hair could be lying flat on the neck or windswept, for example. I train my hair through the aid of wet paper towels, where I dampen it a fair bit and, according to what I want to do, put it on the model’s hair. This is usually to help train the hair to sit downwards on the tail or flat on the neck itself. It also helps to keep the hair together and to prevent frizziness.
Sometimes I leave this on overnight, or only for a few hours, it doesn’t usually take long. After this process I use mousse or sometimes (rarely) hairspray to help keep the hair how I want it. The mousse in my opinion is the best, it helps to keep the hair in the perfect place and sometimes ‘hardens’ it slightly so I have full confidence that if untouched, it should not move too much and will remain in the desired position.
After seeing some model horses at shows (or pictures after they have left the artist) I am aware sometimes that the mohair can go out of place still, despite the artist’s and owner’s best efforts. Hopefully what I now have to advise should benefit those that wish to keep their horse’s hair tame and looking nice for display and in the show ring, whatever their model is used for.
One of the first rules in my book is not to touch it too much! Sometimes when packing them for a show, or moving them about from place to place, or if they have to unfortunately go into storage for a period of time, the hair can inevitably go out of shape. If this is the case, usually just pushing or moving it back into place with your fingers is enough.
There has been conflict with regards to owners of their horses brushing the hair. After I style my model’s hair I never brush it again. Some horses that I haired three years ago that I still own haven’t had to have anything else done to them in terms of mousse or brushing. Some owners may want to brush the model’s hair, and although some people believe that the model is theirs and therefore can do whatever they want, I am aware that some artists in the US have moral rights outlined in VARA. This means that, under the law that protects artist rights, owners shouldn’t brush their models hair or manipulate it at all. This is because the model has had its hair styled and worked in a particular way and in an artist’s opinion (including mine) brushing the hair would be the same as adding paintwork as such to a completed 2D canvas.
However, unfortunately such circumstances do mean that markings could appear on that canvas, and it may have to be repaired or left as is. In the case of the mohair, it could start to go frizzy or slightly out of shape and this is at no fault of the artist or owner. But my trick of perhaps not brushing the hair unless absolutely necessary or styling the hair with mousse would be a good step in the direction for keeping your model’s hair looking nice, tidy and perfect. I will always refer to hair mousse as being one of the most effective tools, along with your fingers and hands.
If you are at all in doubt, and I want to stress this, if you do know who the artist is I would search hard for their policies and definitely contact them. What I have said does refer to my work but I cannot in any way guarantee that this will be the same for other artists. If you have absolutely no idea who the artist is for your model and you have tried to find out, hopefully this post will advise you on making your model’s hair looking neat and tidy again.