Thursday, August 23, 2007

Processing mohair-all part of the job!

This is Taja, the end of the story! Her beautiful tresses are the result of this lengthy process. I couldn't be more pleased! She actually has two colors blended together- for a very natural look.

So this is where it all started....

Tonight I want to share some photos with you of the process of dyeing mohair. It is such a job- but the rewards are tremendous. I did a bit of it a few years ago- then bought some from other sources already colored. That has it's disadvantages though- because you never seem to have just the right color.

I had tibetan lamb (around 60.00) as well as angora mohair that I got from my friend Terry in Australia. I had heard they had the nicest mohair there- and it is true- this fiber she sent me is just the softest and finest I have ever seen. Not cheap though- we now have about 70.00 invested in white ponytails. Anyway, here are some photos showing this very messy (and expensive!!) process!

First, the mohair is brushed, washed and dried and then bundled. I got 70 bundles and this process took me about three days.

Then I laid out plastic, and donned the rubber gloves. I had been buying up several- actually dozens of boxes of haircolor. (approx 150.00) Then I decided that maybe I should have professional haircolor instead- so I enlisted the help of another friend, Debbie. She was a hairdresser before she went into her artwork full time. She sent me a box of several colors- ring up about 80.00 more... MESSY....

Turns out I used all the boxed haircolor- all the professional color AND went back to the store for about 6 MORE boxes of color. Add 50.00.

After the color process was finished, we rinsed. And rinsed, and rinsed... AND RINSED. They are spread out on the washer and dryer...

Then off to the clothesline to dry. Thank goodness it was hot and windy those days. (My hubby was a bit worried what the neighbors would think. :) )
The beautiful results. The top photo is the Australian mohair and the lower photo is the lamb.

This is a closeup of a tighter curled mohair, also from Terry. Thank you again, Terry! As I said, expensive and time consuming. But, I would say I have nearly a lifetime supply of hair for my sculptures. Except that I did tell Terry I was willing to take more if she gets some! :)
And now I know why they charge about 20.00 an ounce for dyed mohair! I thought about selling some as I was getting started with this- but heck NO. Too much work!!


Sooz said...

Deb -
Once again, you amaze me with your work! I had no idea the effort that went into dyeing mohair. Thanks for sharing!

Deb Wood said...

Hi Sooz,
yes, it IS a lot of work! And costly too, when you consider the coloring. It is possible to use Rit dye- that does work too- but finding the right combinations to get a realistic haircolor is difficult. And I've found that customers tend to prefer the realistic haircolors to the fantasy purples, pinks, etc. Also, the hair dyes leave the mohair in such wonderful, soft condition.

Thanks for writing-- and for viewing my blog! You just never know if there are people 'out there' or not.


4pixies said...


Thanks so much for sharing! This DOES look like an enormous amount of work but it turned out beautifully. Does your friend in Australia sell that mohair, it is beautiful! Thanks again, going to go have a look around.

Kathy said...

WOW! What a job! But the results are wonderful! You definitely have enough hair to last you a very long time! Can't wait to see what you create with all of that beautiful hair!

Deb Wood said...

Hello again,
No, Terry does not sell the mohair- but she has a source there in Australia. At times that rancher will call Terry and tell her she has some long fibers to sell. The long fibers come from the older goats, I guess. The younger animals have shorter, more coarse hair. At least that's the way it was explained to me. Pat, owner of Pearl Moon mohair told me that she cannot even use the fiber coming from the younger animals.

It's a learning process, that's for sure! The scale is certainly correct for the sculptures I am doing now. I'm glad I did it-it was worth the effort. I do hope Terry is able to get some more!


Deb Wood said...

Hi Kathy!
Thanks for your note- yes, this is what I will be using on all my next sculptures! Well, except for my elder faes, for those I usually use wool- wonderful heather tones of gray and brown.


Susan Walker said...

Deb...what an amazing documentary of your wool dyeing process...and the results!!! Absolutely gorgeous. You're right...looks like you are set for life, :-) Your work is amazing! Susan

Deb Wood said...

Thank you, Susan! And thanks for stopping by!


sharon said...

Your mohair colors are lovely. I have never tried dyeing with human hair dye only Cushings which works well. Thanks for all the info. I have used mohair many times on my antique reproduction porcelain dolls. It is a lot of work but well worth the effort.

Deb Wood said...

Hi again, Sharon,

The hair colors worked well. There were a few issues with some of the blonds turning lavendar, but in that case, I just overdyed with a darker color. It worked really well. I just made sure to start with the blonds- worked my way down the color scale, doing dark brown last. Any goof ups were covered up and nothing, absolutely nothing- was wasted!

Thanks for the note-

Linny said...

Hi Deb!
i am very new to sculpting and use viscose hair at the moment because i am a vegetarian. The mohair that your lovely lady supplies,does it get sheared from the animal or does it some on a pelt? this would be an important factor for me.
i absolutely adore your work and you are an inspiration to me
love linny xxx

Deb Wood said...

Hi Linny,

The tibetan lamb you see mentioned all the time in artists' descriptions comes from a hide. The mohair, however, is sheared from the animal in most instances. Those animals are bred and raised for the express purpose of shearing and processing their wool, like sheep are. I spoke directly with Pat, the owner of Pearl Moon doll hair and she told me that she raises her own flock for mohair- and does the shearing herself as well. She did tell me that there are instances where some of her flock are sold at market however. She said it is just the way of that business.


Lady Linny said...

thanks so much Deb! i would have thanked you before but i have been away for 2 weeks in florida...didn't want to come home lol...this makes things so much easier for me and i really appreciate you taking the trouble and time to speak to someone about it...many thanks!!!!!