In This Episode
Today: Dog Hair Portraits
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Jean Ford of Orlando, FL is a commercial artist and professional dog groomer. Marrying these skills, she has created a truly unique and bizarre kind of portraiture. Using the shaved hair from her own pet pups, Jean creates dog hair portraits and even three-dimensional sculptures!
Scrubbed, Shaved and Saved
First, Jean washes and grooms the dog and places the cut hair in a plastic bag. Once she finds the perfect reference photo of the pup, one that show its personality, she sketches it onto the canvas and paints the background. Then, very small bundles of hair, sometimes barely as wide as a finger, are glued down and trimmed.
More Canine Creations
Victoria Pettigrew also hated the thought of simply throwing her dog’s hair away. Instead, she decided to spin her pet’s trimmings into yarn!
When her beloved 16-year-old Lhasa Apso dog, Karly, died in 2001, she spun her fur and knitted it into a small scarf. Now customers send hair from their dogs and cats to her company—VIP Fibers of Denton, Texas—and she spins it into yarn before sending it back to them as maybe a pair of mittens, a scarf, a blanket, a pillow, or, for the more daring, a fun-fur bikini.
Dog fur is up to 80 percent warmer than sheep’s wool, but has to be thoroughly cleaned so that when the yarn gets wet, it does not smell like a wet dog.
First the hair is washed in shampoo, then it is put through a process that removes the enzymes that cause odor, and finally it is soaked in softener and conditioner.
Victoria also spins yarn from alpacas, rabbits, horses, and even hamsters, although it may need several years’ fur collection to create a hamster blanket!
How much fur does it take to make a sweater?
How much fur does it take to make a sweater? The general rule of thumb is 2.5 pounds of raw fiber for a basic, large sweater. However, Victoria does not recommend making an entire sweater from 100 percent “canine cashmere,” as dog hair is up to 80 percent warmer than wool. A sweater constructed completely from dog hair would simply be too warm to wear!