Any advice for a thin but stiff ponytail?

castpixel

New Member
I've completed a costume from Fullmetal Alchemist. I'm not completely satisfied with the ponytail on the character's helmet.
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I used a technique for doll hair, unsthreading a lot of synthetic yarn into long single threads, then straightening them to a shiny ponytail with a hair straightening iron.
After that I was at a loss as to how to get the majestic curve. The ponytail was lush, like very long barbie hair, but very limp. Even the strongest hair gel couldn't make it stand.

To get the curve, I started gluing strands of the hair together with white glue.Not fluffy anymore, it's a congealed mass. It also required 3 wires inside, to provide an increasingly relaxed curve, and to support the extra weight of the glue. The shape is ok, and it has some bounce at the base. It also retains the translucency of the hair strands. But it's not wispy and flowy anymore.

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Although the mangaka Hiromi Arakawa draws it stiff and defeated sometimes, like so:

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oftentimes the ponytail looks light and sweeping as below. So anyone know of any techniques or materials to get this sort of a result? Bear in mind, in the live-action film the whole character is CGI, and I think they tried to emulate a very thick strand of horsehair. I don't see how horsehair could stand up like that on its own either...

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TazMan2000

Sr Member
I'm not sure where you're from but you could try a Michaels store or some other store with artificial/plastic plants. You might find something there that will retain its shape, is flexible and not sharp, that you can paint, or cover.

TazMan2000
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
I would try horse hair to see what it could do.
Another possibility might be bamboo. You can make fine strands of bamboo, which would likely be stiff enough, but might be a little pokey.
 

AnubisGuard

Sr Member
You're not going to get wispy and flowing at the same time as rigid enough to hold it's shape. It needs some kind of rigid core to hold it in place. Maybe unfold a coat hanger and braid the hair around that.
 

Riceball

Sr Member
I'd try making a core that's about the same thickness that you want the ponytail to be, or a just a tad thinner, then using spray glue, attach strands of hair to it. The spray glue should keep the hair from clumping together too much while at the same time holding them to the core. To make the pony tail looking like hair you could also make the core a bit shorter than the longest pieces of hair so that they can hang loose at the end.
 

AnubisGuard

Sr Member
Just how active is the ponytail intended to be? I'm not familiar with the source material, but if it's supposed to be blowing around in the wind as the manga panels suggest, you could make the ponytail out of a thin strip of crepe paper or similar, and install a small fan in the back of the helmet to blow air at it. That way you'd get the stand-away effect, and it would whip and twist around.
 

epoxinator

Active Member
I don't know if it's hair-like enough for your taste but you can get plumes of dried grass at florist shops that would hold that shape and yet move and flow a bit and not be a poking danger to people behind you.
 

castpixel

New Member
Thank you everyone for your suggestions! Synthetic grass sounds very promising, I'm scouring shops as we speak.
Horsehair just flops unfortunately.
A core on which I spray glue strands also sounds promising. It's what I did, but I used white glue, I think spray adhesive might keep things fluffier

<3 thanks again, lovely community
 

TazMan2000

Sr Member
Thank you everyone for your suggestions! Synthetic grass sounds very promising, I'm scouring shops as we speak.
Horsehair just flops unfortunately.
A core on which I spray glue strands also sounds promising. It's what I did, but I used white glue, I think spray adhesive might keep things fluffier

<3 thanks again, lovely community
I wish more people coming here for advice (whether it helps them or not) would be as thankful as you are. A lot of new members (and some long term ones) don't bother thanking others for their effort in trying to help out.

TazMan2000
 

propmaster2000

Sr Member
Just wondering, what is the absolute minimum length the ponytail can be and still be a reasonable and so it's not too thick or too thin, what would be a good average diameter?
Of course the "hair" (yarn) would add extra weight to the inner core suspension rod
so that must be taken into account.
.
 
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castpixel

New Member
TazMan2000 that boggles the mind. I'm not a professional prop-builder, but I *am* a professional in my line of work, and when someone takes the time to share their opinions and expertise, it's a special thing. A thank you is the bare minimum.

propmaster2000 to be honest I can go any length up to 1 meter. Diameter can be up to 1cm I'm sure.

Right now it's 60cm long, the inner core is 3 wires of different length, each easing the ponytail into the next curve. The final length of it is core-less so it doesn't poke anyone's eye out, but that too didn't stand on its own without glue



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propmaster2000

Sr Member
Thanks for the information. :)
The idea I have might seem a bit out there and I don't know if it would even come close to working.......
.
What if you where to take about 2 ft of 3/8" latex rubber tube (Home depot) and completely fill it with 1/4" short tubes .
.
The flat sides of the beads would allow them to be stacked one after another tightly from one end to another (maybe run a cord or elastic though them holding them tightly bound). Then cap the ends.

.
Just thinking out load here.
.
 
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castpixel

New Member
propmaster2000 it's not an out there idea at all! Beads inside a hose of some sort is how they keep muppet arms from being completely flabby. I don't have a home depot here in Greece, but the idea is sound! I think it would work more for a tentacle type thing? Definitely worth some experimentation though! Thank you!!
 

division 6

Master Member
What about a fiberglass rod as your core.
Perhaps something like they use for tents or bicycle flag poles.

Brass rod or telescoping brass or aluminum tubing.
Maybe even a radio antenna.

Anything with rubber or elastic will break down over time.
 

propmaster2000

Sr Member
If you want something semi-flexible for costuming purposes (short term), then going with latex rubber hose (like used in hospitals)
will work fine.
 

epoxinator

Active Member
I was looking at eBay and saw these. Not hair, but no real hair I know of would act the way you want it to on your costume. I don't know if they are long enough at 24 inches.

Dongliflower 50 Pcs Natural Dried Small Pampas Grass, Phragmites Flower Bunch, 758762759697 | eBay

You might even look around in your area for dry grass that you can take for free to make your plume.

Or maybe these feathers could work.

Hair Feathers, 20 Feather Hair Extensions, Real Long Natural Feathers, Plume Cheveux, Wedding Cream Solid White
 
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castpixel

New Member
Wow thanks all!

epoxinator The hair feathers look very promising. If I can find longer and synthetic ones (I'm trying to stay cruelty free for my builds) they might work well! The ponytail is canonically from hair of some sort, so right now I'm closer than if I use feathers, but maybe they won't look like feathers, if bunched up?

propmaster latex hose is decidedly too flabby to hold any kind of curve other than straight down :/

division 6 Well I have no problem with my current metal wire core, but thank you!
 
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AnubisGuard

Sr Member
latex hose is decidedly too flabby to hold any kind of curve other than straight down :/
Clear PVC hose that you can get at any hardware store might be, though. It tends to want to keep the curve it got from being on the roll, and I'm my experience it likes to do its own thing regardless of gravity.
 

castpixel

New Member
AnubisGuard I agree, but as I said I have *no* problem with my rigid core. It keeps the curve just fine.

I was wondering if there were any hair products that would keep this curve naturally. Thank you so much though!
 
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