• How to make a donut rat using shed hair, by Finoriel


    How to make a hair piece for a sock-bun donut with your own shed hair. If you are collecting shed hair since ages to eventually make a rat out of it, but never got around to actually do something with it...
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    Originally posted by Finoriel, at: 03/21/2011
    There are different types of rat-shapes available and I think it's safe to say that one of most popular ones is the doghnut shape as a base for the sock bun. We can buy mesh-versions or make another DIY-version by cutting off the tip of a sock and rolling it up, so why would one collect ones own shed hair for ages to make a rat out of shed hair?
    Besides the obvious answer "Because I'm a hairnut! ", the main reasons for me were:
    - Sometimes the mesh versions are hard to find in shops and if you find one they often don't have the right measurements.
    - Socks are usually not matching ones haircolor and it can be kind of awkward when people point out "Umm, there's something in your hair!" when the sock is showing by accident.
    - Also it is much easier to secure a hair rat with u-pins than trying to shove them through a rolled up sock.
    - My hair rat is less heavy than a sock-rat of the same size.

    What you need to do before getting started:
    Collect lots of hair! I'm not sure how long it took me, but my finished donut rat weights 35 gram / 1,2 ounces. In lack of a proper Victorian porcelain hair keeper I stored the hair harvested from my brush/comb in a simple paper-bag. Air tight containers could lead to mold-issues.
    Measure your ponytail and find an object with a similar diameter.
    Some form of detergent (shampoo, dish liquid, floor cleaning soap, etc.) it does not really matter as long as it develops lots of foam with some water.
    A metal crochet hook, ideally one of those with a thicker plastic handle to have more grip.
    Be prepared that the process of making the rat is slow, the longer you work on it the better the result will be.
    Use gloves if you are having sensitive skin. I didn't and my hands did not appreciate the hour of being drenched in soap-water.


    Take the wad of loose hair and place it in the sink.


    Add lots of soap and some water and fluff up the clump of hair. It should be a big loosely connected wad with a roundish shape. The soap and the foam add the needed slip and clean out eventual residues like dust or sebum or leftover product.
    Then you put your fingers through the middle of the loose wad to create a hole and start shaping the role by squeezing the hair in shape. This sounds a bit odd, but the loose hair will tighten up on it's own and the process itself has a lot in common with felting wool or dread maintenance to tighten up locks.
    Add more soap if it doesn't feel slippery enough.
    The donut-hole in the middle is prone to getting too small, so it's good to insert something with roughly the same diameter as your ponytail while felting when the dread-ring matures. I chose a small pump-spray bottle for that purpose, but anything round and waterproof will do.


    After continued squeezing and adding more soap the ring resembles something like this. The picture was taken about half an hour into the process.
    I occasionally removed the hole-placeholder to keep the ring round and to even out eventual thinner parts.
    It's important to even out irregularities as soon as one discovers them by squeezing the neighboring thicker parts and drawing more hair to the thinner parts with the crochet hook. Don't be afraid to rip some hair in the process. More soap makes it easier.


    With continued squeezing the rat-felt-dreadlock-donut matures and becomes quite solid, when it's solid enough for your taste and has the right shape you can rinse off the soap. It's important to rinse it out well, there shouldn't be any product residues left. Those tend to stick to dust and may create mold-traps later.


    My finished donut looked like this. It's good to dry it as fast as possible, so I put it on a towel first and then placed it in a sunny spot. It still took about two days to fully dry.

    Maintenance tips:
    The biggest problem with hair-rats is that they should not be kept moist for extended periods of time or there may grow mold in them. So if the dognut got wet in the rain make sure it drys properly afterwards and doesn't stay wet for days. Do not store it in an airtight container trapping eventual humidity with it, keep it in a dry place when it's not in use.
    When you use it in dusty environments or/and on oiled hair or are using product like hairspray etc. it may be a good thing to wash the rat from time to time.
    My own rat is now about 3 years old and over time it developed stray-hairs sticking out and was loosening up a bit, but a wash with lots of soap and some felting/squeezing like when I made it fixed that.

    Happy felting
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