Breyer just released a brand new product: the Mane Beauty Styling Head! These are a fun take on a styling doll head to play with, but in horse form! I teamed up with Breyer to take on the task of customizing a styling head into a portrait of Lil' Ricky Rocker, a dashingly beautiful leopard appaloosa. And this is how I did it!
Supplies I used (but not all
For this project, I decided my Mane Beauty needed new hair, since it came with hair that was the wrong color for my horse. This is not necessary to do for all customs. If you decide you want to keep the original hair, one way to do this is to skip the following steps and simply cover the hair with painters tape, which will be easy to remove. You can roll the hair up, tape over it, and skip to the priming section. Try and do this as neatly as possible, so only the hair is taped.
To begin our project, I removed the head from the base and wiggled off the lower plastic nameplate. This allowed me to better manipulate the head, as well as reach into it. I then cut off the locks as close to the plastic of the neck as I could manage.
Rehairing is not necessary in order to create your custom Mane Beauty.
In this case, I needed a white mane, and the original was yellow, so off it went.
With the hair gone and the styling head off the base, I then took my dremel and created a groove in the neck next to where the hair was rooted. I was careful to leave a piece in the middle where I did not cut all the way through. (Younger Breyer fans should have parental assistance when using tools like a dremel!)
With the groove cut, I was now able to bend the plastic so I could reach in and pull
the roots of the hair out from underneath with my jewelry pliers.
Because the styling head is made with a malleable plastic, the piece in the middle that has not been cut all the way through helps hold the piece of the neck where it should be. I wanted to make sure its structure was supported, since I went all the way through in the other areas of the neck.
I created this groove in order to do two things: first, I needed a trench for supporting the new mohair on the model, and second, it allowed me to reach in a grab the remaining hair in the styling head from the underside where it is rooted. This was done with a set of pliers.
Now that the mane is gone, I need to primer the piece. The primer is used as a base coat for our new paintjob to stick to and comes in a spray can - it can be found in most craft and hardware stores.
Before I primer the styling head, I wash it off in the sink with soap and warm water. This is a must for any model before you paint or primer it, because it removes the oils from your hands that may have transferred on the piece. In this case, it will also remove any leftover hair fuzzies!
Beauty gets a bath. Make sure you use soap to get your hand oils off, as well as
any other debris like little leftover mane bits.
Make sure your model is completely dry before you spray the primer. Use the primer in a well-ventilated location, and always use a mask and gloves so that you don’t get any in your eyes or on your hands. When you spray the primer, use multiple layers of light coats to avoid drips, making sure the previous layer has dried completely each time.
I have found plastic has a tendency to have small inconsistencies in the first layer of primer. Don’t worry! It can take as many as 3 light layers to really cover a piece. To help keep the primer smooth, use a very light hand with some super-fine sandpaper to feather the layers in and make those marks disappear. Make sure the primer is very dry when doing so, and wear rubber gloves so you don’t transfer hand oils onto the piece.
First primer layer. Those air pocket marks will disappear the next time I spray.
Many light layers are better then overspraying, so you don't get drips.
When your piece is dry and you have a smooth surface, it’s time to paint your styling head! This is where it gets super fun and you can let your creative talents shine. Anything goes, so grab your favorite colors in any medium - be it pastels, acrylics or oil paints - set yourself down, and paint your horse!
Having a picture of the real horse that inspires you is a helpful tool for creating realism - as we mentioned earlier, our styling head will be inspired by Lil' Ricky Rocker. When you are happy with your paintwork, use spray sealer to protect it while you rehair the mane. This will also protect the paint when you want to style the hair in the future.
When your head is complete, your paint dry, and the last layer done and sealed, it is time to start rehairing. If you opted to keep the original Breyer hair on your horse - you're finished! Remove the tape and enjoy your new piece!
If you are rehairing your model, then it is time to get started. Make sure you are really done with the painting, as you will not want to spray any more sealer after this point.
Get out your medium of hair - I am using mohair. Creating a mane with mohair is relatively easy... the most difficult part is that it is time-consuming to do. There are many videos, tutorials and resources that explain hairing.
This piece is particularly fun to rehair since it is just a head - it is hollow, malleable and just downright fun. I think it is the perfect horse to practice this technique on, and it is big which makes it even easier to play around with!
I will admit that I do not have a lot of experience with hairing model horses, and I learned a lot by doing this one. If I can do it, you can too!
For this project, I needed longer strands of hair. I pulled them into even pieces and cut them in half. This way, I could utilize the natural ends of the mohair.
In this photo, each section of the mohair has been glued. I used my gloved hand to make sure all the fibers in each "tab" of hair were pressed together. Duco Cement dries very fast, and you have to be careful to only get it on the ends.
Once the ends were dry and glued together, I simply placed them in the groove I had cut in the neck earlier. When all of the tabs in hair were in place, I pulled back one side of the groove and glued them all in with the Duco Cement.
I used a rubber band to hold the two sides of the styling head together while the hair dried and closed the groove that was made in the neck. Anywhere that needed more glue got it. Now I have to go over the old hairline and cover up the tiny holes from the original rooted hair.
I made more tabs of glued-together mohair, and this time glued them over the old hairline to hide it. I did cut the glued end of the tabs to be straight for this part. This gives the hair a give a tidier appearance, since the ends of the tabs won't be hidden inside the groove of the neck.
Now that all of the mohair is in place, I need to wait for the glue to fully set. I will glue down any parts that need it, and then will clean up the neck.
I am pretty pleased with how it looks! I managed to make a fingerprint that will wipe off, since I sealed the paint. Any excess glue can be wiped or sanded off.
Once your glue is set, you can brush your mane. Don’t be alarmed if lots of hair comes out - this is normal! This would also be the time to trim the mane if you need to, but be careful. Be sure to keep that natural "stagger" to the hairline. All I need to do now is finish the base and gloss the eyes.
All done! The eyes have been glossed and the base has been painted. To style the hair, you can use water and mousse. I didn’t want the hair on this piece to be stationary, just not frizzy.
I think she turned out lovely! I hope you have fun with your model, and enjoy making her your own!