Creaturiste's Laboratory

Techniques, works in progress, and everything that doesn't fit in the portfolio. Comments and questions are encouraged, custom orders are welcome!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hair Implants with hot glue

About "fake grafting" fur or hair:
There's a way to glue strands or bunches of hair to a surface using hot glue, without it showing. It looks almost like the hair has sprouted from the skin. I usually do this after my puppet heads are painted. Since artist quality acrylic paints are extra strong and grabby, they won't peel off if a bit of tension is applied to the hair.
The trick:
-Large bowl with water.
-Glue gun at high temp
-cut hair material off its backing
-trim the root to make it all even
-spread glue around the roots using the glue gun's nozzle.
-dip middle and index finger of other into water
-immediately place hair bunch's root where you want it, and tap once or twice with moist fingers.

The moist fingers are protected from the heat, and the texture makes the glue "matte".
The water dries super fast. Strands can be grafted at various angles too, including as a totaly vertical bunch (great for punk hair and such).
One has to experiment a bit to find out how much glue is just right. Excess will squeeze out and look bad.
I use this technique extensively, although for larger areas (entire lifesize head), I use other methods, as the hot glue adds weight. I like a similar method, but using contact cement. Once both the scalp and the hair strands are touch-dry, we just link them and there is no mess. I just don't know how to avoid the slght glossyness of the contact cement, but it's okay if we don't use too much glue (it has to remain underneath the strand)
I leave the backing on the fur for larger areas, but the eyebrows and other facial hair are usually backing-free. I add backing-free strands of hair in front of the hair line to hide the backing's edge and make it look like natural growth.

For an even more realistic look, I sometimes use Monster Bone as a glue to attach simple strands of hair. Like I described for the hot glue, I apply the Monster Bone compound to the root of the hair strand, ans squish it in place. Then I paint a bit of it to overlap the hair and the scalp. I need to be sure not to touch it at all until totally dry, but when it is, the hair won't come off, and will definitely looks like they are sprouting out, hair by hair, or at least very small strands by very small strands. The lynx demon puppet shown below has a mustache made that way.

The bowl of water should always be there whenever we use hot glue. Any spill on our skin can be immediately dipped in water and the burning stopped.
I've proven it to a group of students once. They looked both distracted and incredulous, so I dropped some hot glue on my hand on purpose, and dipped in water.
No damage. That got their attention.

Leave the glue on the skin until totally cool, or a bit longer even. Premature removing of the glue can rip off the epidermis. It happened to me twice. It did not bleed, but the exposed inner layers of skin were hyper sensitive to heat and touch, until it healed.
I'd rather take the extra time to prepare a bowl of water than to have to go through the irritation again.

Hobey Ford tells me of an extra safety measure: we should deposit the gun on its stand before dipping our hand in water (electric shock risk if gun cord is damaged) .

For an example of the hair grafted in this manner, look at my demon puppets.

1 comment:

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