Introduction: Horse Tail Tutorial
This is a tutorial on how to make a kick-ass beautiful horse tail for your masquerade or halloween costume as shown in the image. It will take a lot of time and patience and I warn you, dont get into this unless you are 100% dedicated! ;)
What you need is a clothes hanger in metal, scissor, latex milk, a piece of rope about three feet long, sturdy thread or cord (I used thread for leather working), a brush and a pair of pliers to cut your clothes hanger with. And of course, hair.
I used synthetic hair extensions from LA Trend , the kind without clips or anything - just long, loose hair. The straight kind I use for shine and gloss and the slightly curly one for more volume. You can mix colours any way you like. In this tail, I used black and white.
First, cut your metal clothes hanger in three pieces - that is, cut away the hook part, cut the longest piece apart in the middle and you have two pieces which will serve to stabilise the tail root or tail base. Bend them like the image suggests. The two short loops will rest on your back, the pointy ends will be the tip of the tail.
Now, cut your piece of rope in two parts. Bent on the middle the pieces should be a little longer than your metal bars, like the image suggests.
Use the thread/cord to tie your metal pieces together, loops apart and away from each other. Then fasten the two rope pieces, one on each side of the metal supports, with the thread.
Undo the rope twisting until each length of the rope has become two parts. Gather them into three groups and start braiding them AROUND the metal pieces, so you actually braid the metal into the rope as a stabilising base. Tie the ends securely together at the end. This will be the root of your tail, which you will tie, or sew, the hair onto.
Now you need to focus on the hair. This is where it gets tiresome. Take a small bunch of hair - and I mean small, because otherwise the strands will only snag and stick to each other and you will have no end of grief - and slowly pull it into different lengths from the ends until it looks natural. Straight cut-off hair doesnt look very natural on a horse! Brush it out and hang it over, for example, the back of a chair. Take one more small bunch of hair and do the same. Add it to the first. And so on, and so forth, until the hair bunch is about the diameter of a chopstick. This is the stage where you mix different colours if you so wish, as well as different textures. Remember what I said about curly hair giving more volume? I tend to mix straight and curly in about 1 to 4 ratio - more straight hair and you will get a glossier shine, more volume and it will become too light weight and wont fall naturally.
When you have finished a couple or three hair bunches you will want to fasten them to the tail root. This is where the latex milk comes in. I usually fill the bottle cap to about half, BEND YOUR BUNCH OF HAIR ON THE MIDDLE and dip it in. Right at the loop, yes. That is why you want the longest synthetic hair you can find - because it will end up about half the lenght in the end!
Once you have soaked the loop of hair in the latex milk you take a piece of thread and tie, or sew the bunch of hair, to the tip of the tail root. Always start at the tip of the tail and go upwards to get a natural fall on the hair.
Continue to mix you hair bunches and pull the ends into different lengths and work your way up on the tail base. I only cover the top side of the root as it has a tendency to rub on your bottom underneath and make it hard to brush out. Instead I cover the underside with a piece of thin leather at the very end.
The tail is taking shape! Notice that I have already worked on this particular tail for a few days already at this stage. As long as you are patient and work methodically it will end up a goodlooking tail that you can be proud of. :)
When the whole upper side of the tail root is covered in sewn-on little hair bunches, its time for the finishing touches. I use a glue gun to cover the bottom side of the tail in thin leather (cloth will also work I imagine, but it doesnt glide as smoothly over other materials as leather does) and finally, wrap the very base in another strip of leather. Done! But how do I fasten my tail to my costume, you wonder? Well, you can always loop a cord around those metal pieces to tie it to a belt of course, or you can do a sturdier fastening that gives the tail a proud bearing...
See these four leather straps? I sewed them on securely at the start of making the tail root, or you can do it when you are almost done. It doesnt really matter. What matters is that I have made one small hole in each of those straps, and when inserting each strap in a small, rectangular hole in my tail holder (a simple leather plate fastened with straps around my hips), you can make sure they dont slip out again by inserting a thick steel wire in each hole. See below.
This is the inside of the tail holder or harness. Here you can clearly see each inserted strap from the tail and the steel wire that holds them in place. You will probably want to add a tough material in between you and those steel wires as well, but I leave that up to you. Or maybe another tutorial. :)
As a short add-on; you can also make a mane with the very same method. Here I have taken a strip of cloth and sewn the hair bunches on after having dipped them in latex milk. The length of the mane base is about 1,5 feet and its padded with thin leather on the bottom side, closest to your head. But I wouldnt advice you to use as long hair extensions on the mane as on the tail, its simply too much and will become awfully warm! ^_^