What method should I use to recreate a small wooden horse tail?
May 20, 2013 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I have these antique wooden horses, some of which are completely missing their tails due to breaking off and subsequent loss. I would like to recreate 4 extra tails using some method but am getting overwhelmed by the possibilities. I am not afraid to try creating a mold then casting them somehow, but I would like this to be easy and cost effective (<$30 total) since I only need to do 4. I am doing this purely for aesthetic reasons and the material does not have to be terribly durable and Obviously I do not expect this to be wooden. The tails are approximately 2" x 1" and are originally wood, painted black.
posted by thorny to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
Can you get some hemp or other fibrous twine or rope, untwist it, and give them rope tails?
posted by theora55 at 1:17 PM on May 20, 2013

I assume you have a spare tail. You could use this and plaster of paris to make a split mould then use that modelling clay that you can bake in a domestic oven to make the tails.

It doesn't require specialist skills and you can find plenty of howto's online.
posted by BenPens at 1:19 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

You could use black Sugru to make the tails, via a mold or just via hand-sculpting and letting the silicone air-dry.
posted by limeonaire at 1:28 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd use polymer clay. It dries by itself, which makes it easier to use than modelling clay. I would remake the tails in the proper spot, not separately, so it's easier to see whether they look right.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

My daughter did something similar on a much larger scale a couple of years ago. She created a horse tail using some PVC to simulate the tail bone and them yarn for the tail. For you application a pipe cleaner with something yarn like but thinner might work well.
posted by COD at 1:45 PM on May 20, 2013

Were I confronted with this, I'd drill and insert a wooden plug and carve them. That's the cheapest and you can have 4 different tails. Failing that, if you want them all identical and they have any value, a mold is simple. Do a clay version and make a plaster waste mold. You can use a number of materials to cast, from filled epoxy to various plastics. Check these guys out.
posted by FauxScot at 1:47 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

COD has a great suggestion. A readily-available material (yarn like but thinner) immediately makes me think embroidery floss. If you want something more horse-like, look into the world of customized model horses. The keywords are "remaking" or "hairing" or "RRH" (includes the remaking and repainting, which don't seem to be your interest. The hair is often mohair, and can be ordered online or bought at some craft stores. You can see examples and get instructions online, too, like this page.
posted by whatzit at 1:49 PM on May 20, 2013

So far so good on these suggestions. I appreciate them all. I had not thought about doing a real hair version of the tail, but that might be interesting. I do have an original tail that I could create a mold with, so I may do that. But I have learned a lot just checking out these suggestions! Thank you!
posted by thorny at 2:02 PM on May 20, 2013

You could probably whittle them quite easily.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:18 PM on May 20, 2013

I'd make the mould from silicone in one part. With simple parts you can make a mould box, fix the part upright in it then pour silicone over it. This should give you a block of silicone with the part inside and a pouring hole where you attached the part to the floor of the mould box.

You can cut the mould in half with a sharp blade to remove the original part then clamp the two halves together again with elastic bands.

Then cast in any two-part thermoset plastic - e.g. polyester, epoxy, polyurethane.

You'll probably need to spray a release agent (PTFE/Vaseline) on both the original part and the mould before casting.

Very similar to making moulds for simple tin casting if you want to google it.
posted by rog at 2:30 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Use horse hair (from the tail). Musical instrument repair sites have it for re-hairing violin bows, and it's available at low prices on Amazon. Since you don't need the super-consistent hair that violin bows require, get the cheapest stuff available.
posted by KRS at 7:54 AM on May 21, 2013

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