Monday, 31 October 2016

From horse's tail to bracelet

NEW on the Blog

Dear readers. When this blog first began with this post way back in 2012, I had no idea how popular it would be. People have asked for video demonstrations to help them with their projects. This is especially useful for beginners and so you will see, this post has a video to show just one way to get your sample of tail hair from a horse.

I hope you enjoy the videos as they are published. Lots more to come.

Best wishes, Lou

The horsehair must be cleaned, bagged and named. But before that, you must of course get the hair from the horse! Before you cut the hair you  need to know how long the lengths of hair should be, how much to should get and where to take it from.

Tips to cut the right amount of hair for a bracelet

  1. First, give the tail a good brush so that it isn't tangled. If it is smooth and knot free you can easily find the length you need and only cut just enough.
  2. Next start at the bottom of the tail and hold on to a lock of hair that leads to an area close to the horse's hind end where cutting the hair would not be visible. Doing it this way makes it easier to identify the longest strands of hair. You will need a generous 60cm plus to make a bracelet.
  3. The lock of hair will contain close to 200 individual hairs. Many of these will not be good enough to use so before you cut (as close to the end as possible) be choosy and see where the best hairs are. This is more important if you are wanting to have a bracelet made from a coloured horse and need to have enough of each colour.
  4. The cut horsehair should then have a rubber band placed around the cut end. It is then put in a plastic bag and kept dry.

Here is a video showing where I take samples from.

Here is some cut but unwashed hair

Preparing the horsehair

Now the hair needs to be washed.  I do this with shampoo, ensuring the hair stays together in a lock,  making it easier when it comes to sorting out individual hairs to use in the bracelet.

If the hair is very dirty or very dry, I use some conditioner. It might even need two or three washes to get it ready to use. It then gets left to air dry.

Sorting the horsehair

Just before the hair is completely dry it gets sorted. How the hair is grouped depends upon the size of the bracelet and any pattern to be used. Sorting still takes me up to two hours. The fastest I have managed this is one hour but the process is actually quite relaxing. It is important to get the very best strands for the bracelet and not opt for ones that may break or kink in a way that later spoils the bracelet. The strands must be a similar length and each group of hair (usually up to sixteen) also needs to be of a consistent length.

At the moment I don't have a wooden marudai to use to make the bracelet. So I use a glass jar with a suitable weight in the middle to help maintain tension as the horsehair is braided.

Foam kumihimo discs are ideal for working with horsehair because they grip the strands nicely while you work. For information on what equipment you need to get started, check out this post starter tools

Here is a video I have made showing how to sort hair and set it up on the kumihimo disk.

Preparing to braid

The Kumihimo braiding method is discussed in other posts. There is a wealth of information on kumihimo on the internet. If you look at my post  using beads in horsehair bracelet you will see a short video of how a simple kumihimo pattern works. What is key though, when working with horsehair is to allow enough length at start and finish to properly finish each end and avoid the work coming undone.

Maintaining a steady, firm tension is really important.

I have found it more challenging to work with different colours and patterns. I have recently worked on four patterned bracelets for the first time.

There is excitement when you see the emerging pattern. At the same time I feel a sense of anticipation and slight unease. It  is only when the bracelet is almost complete that I start to relax. Braided horsehair can be undone and re-braided if you make a mistake or decide to change your design, but you may need to wash and prepare the hair again in order to allow the hair to regain its natural shape. So far I have been fortunate and not had to start from scratch.

The finished bracelet

This one is a 'diamond' pattern.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Making a 12 Strand Rounded Flat Horse Hair Braid

Find other pattern posts here

How to Make a 12 Strand Rounded Flat Kumihimo Braid

This pattern is simple to follow and the braid has pretty, rounded edges. The strands in this example contain about 16 tail hairs each.

The instructions for this braid are similar to the 8 strand braid we recently discussed.

To make the braid you will need enough strands of horse tail hair, at least 60 cm in length. Another way to work out the length is for the hair to be three times the length you want your bracelet to be. 

How many horse hairs you use will depend on how wide you want the final piece to be. To get an idea refer to blog post What Size Bracelet to Make

If you are a new reader of this blog please check out posts showing you what basic equipment you may need and how to start and finish a braid. There are posts on most aspects of making horse hair jewellery so don't forget to use the search button also to find specific information you need.

Starting positions of the 12 strands

Here you have four strands set up at the top or, north side of the disc and four on the south side. 

Two strands to the west and east of the disc.

Now, starting right to left (or left to right if you prefer), move the bottom strand at position 1 to 14 and then move 14 to position 1. Moving north to south and south to north.

Do this with each set of vertical strands in turn, always in the same order until all have changed places.

The final move is to move the horizontal strands from east to west and west to east. 7 goes to 25 and 25 moves to position 7

The moves are repeated until you reach the length you want your braid to be.

The braid in the photo has been finished using sterling silver crimp ends. I do like to use these. They have a classic look and are unlikely to cause skin irritation. They hold the braid firmly in place too.

The hoof print is also made from sterling silver and adds extra interest to the piece. This particular embellishment was made from silver clay then left to dry thoroughly before firing and polishing

Monday, 24 October 2016

Sorting Horse Tail Hair and Setting on the Kumihimo Disk

Sorting hair for braiding

There are many ways to sort the hair out. Once you have an idea of what you want to make, you can decide how much hair you need and what length. Hair for spiral braids will need to be longer than for flat braids, simply because more braiding and work goes into a spiral braid and more hair is used.

Sorting the hair need not be messy. Provided you get everything around you that you need, it will not take you long to have the hair in place on your disk, ready to be braided.

In this video, you can see how I sort and set the hair and fix the end to keep it secure. This version contains no narration so you don't need sound to watch it.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Cutting a Sample of Tail Hair

Way back in 2012 I spoke about how to get your sample of hair from the horse. The most important thing about getting a sample is safety. If you are used to handling horses the process of cutting some hair should be straight forward. If you are going to braid some hair for someone else, you can aske them to get the hair for you.

Here is a video I have made with some help from Hope Pastures rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming centre and in particular Henry the horse, showing how to select a sample of hair and cut it, so that it barely shows afterwards.

This is the first of a series of videos that I hope you will find useful.