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Posted by chris walsh, on 2007-02-27 15:25:25

Hair and fabric suggestions (please)

I'd be really greatful if anyone could help me out with some advice. I'm working on a set based on 1984 (the novel, not the Van Halen album), I've tried attaching a very rough shot of it which I took a few weeks back, so hopefully you can see it. Anyway the problem I have is that I want to use fabric on the set which I've never really done before, it'll be used for a curtain, and a sheet thrown over a steamer trunk and a load of objects. I seem to remember reading that model makers use a spray of some kind to make fabric easier to work with/stiffer so that it holds it's shape. Any ideas what it is? Or any suggestions on working with fabric as I remember last time it had a mind of it's own! Also the guy in the photo will have hair, and I want it to look more realistic and kind of fluffy than it would if I sculpted it. Again any suggestions? I was thinking maybe a doll wig? Thanks! ------Chris



Posted by Nick H, on 2007-02-27 21:30:59

If the fabric is a curtain that needs to hang in folds, but doesn't need to move, I dip it in watered-down pva glue. It will drape better while it's wet, and when it dries the glue will stiffen it into that position. I do the same thing to wigs made of a piece of fur fabric to style them. For hair, I've used a few things - bits of hairpieces for longer hair, a piece cut from a sheepskin that gives me a fine-textured wavy hair, or various fur fabrics. There's one with long white hairs that gives a good length, I just put some paint in the glue water to colour it. I cut a circle in the fabric backing, then take V cuts out of it, so it will curve over the skull. After I see that it will fit, I airbrush with acrylic paint, or dip it in watered paint, or paint and glue if it needs to stiffen up to hold a shape. I use flocking for very short hair, like a crew cut or stubble, but it needs a flocking gun to make it land on the puppet end-on. I've got a couple of doll wigs I bought for $2, but they are very shiny and springy and horribly styled, and I've never found a use for them. Possibly with water and paint I could fix them, but they are synthetic and may not take colour well, I'm not sure. A recently posted photo of a Chinese man puppet with long white hair looks great, but I'm not sure how it was done. There's no backing, just individual hairs coming out of the head, like punching-in, but it's a hard Sculpey head so I suspect that isn't it.

Posted by planet jp, on 2007-02-28 05:25:04

Actually, Jussi-K, who did the Chinese man puppet, wrote this about the hair, which I found amazingly simple and surprising: The hair is glued in strand at a time. Using normal transparent glue. It took very long, but was entertaining to do while watching TV. It is quite firmly attached and will not rip off easily. EDIT: I glued in the hair starting from the place where the neck connects with the head. Then I came up row by row until I reached the top of the forehead. I could not guess how many strands of hair there is in that head, but it is lots.

Posted by HHaase, on 2007-02-28 16:59:07

Yes, the watered down PVA/White glue is a very effective technique for holding fabrics in place. Just mix it with water to the consistancy of milk, and soak the fabric in it. It will take a few hours to dry, but will hold its shape very rigidly. I have found that in some cases that using that method, but with tissue paper, you can get more delicate and sharp folds that fabric doesn't always allow. However, some colored tissue paper uses water soluable dye, so you may have to buy white tissue and dye it yourself.

Posted by chris walsh, on 2007-03-01 04:31:48

Thanks guys that's a big help!