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delusionsofgrandeur

Somewhere in Mongolia, a stallion is laughing at me

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Hi guys -

 

As a larval re-hairer who was once thought to have good hands [**bitter, hollow laugh**], I'm completely stuck in re what to do about maintaining a smooth, clean ribbon of hair like all the cool kids on the re-hairing videos do, without having it immediately explode into an amorphous roiling mess as I am tying off my second knot. Wet, damp, and dry, I can comb out the beautiful flat ribbon of my dreams, pinch it hard and pull it tight, only to watch it instantly slump, puff, and frizz into a sagging chaotic mass of wavy epithelial despair -- while I'm still holding onto it. I'm thinking of contacting an exorcist.

 

Clearly I'm somehow letting the hair inside the bundle slip loose while I'm holding it, but I'm gripping and pulling it as tight as I dare. I thought that wetting the hair would take care of that, but it didn't. Neither did dusting the ends with powdered rosin to provide some friction.

 

I've tried a comb, I've tried a brush, I've tried a bending stick, I've tried combing dry, I've tried wetting with water, and alcohol, and even acetone. I've tried anchoring the hair in a clamp on my workbench and pre-combing it before inserting it into the first mortise, even blow-drying it straight as if it were attached to the head of a sorority girl (I re-hair tip to frog). I've tried holding the hair in place with clips and barrettes. I've tried knotting ahead of the mortise and sliding the knot back; I've even tried multiple knots along the length of the hair. I tie down the hair flat at the tip the way Mr. Tucker suggests (thank you CT!). And of course I do my proper combing and brushing (from the ends up, of course) and wetting after the tip end is inserted. For, like, **hours.** I've tried both coarse good-quality hair and fine, less expensive hair. They both writhe into similar nests of madness, except that the finer hair also snaps during combing and mats up into sullen, gummy tangles, which is really entertaining.

 

Every hair in every bundle I get has a slight natural wave, which is normal for horse hair, right? I discard the hairs that are extra wavy, or kinky, or of uneven thickness, or sprouting tentacles and whispering the dread name of Yog Sothoth. What remains looks and acts like perfectly normal non-demon-possessed horse tail hair until I try to comb it into a ribbon and install it in a bow. Is there something about horses' tails that I haven't been told? Are they... parasitic aliens???

 

The one thing I haven't tried yet is a real metal rehair comb rather than the plastic flea comb I have now. It would be nice if I could fix the situation by Buying a Thing,, and I'm ordering one, why not, but I doubt that it will solve the problem entirely.

 

Anyway. Eventually I just give up, get the hair as together as I can (i.e., a sad drooping sloppy bundle with one tight angry hank in the middle), finish the job, and then viciously flame everything into submission. Inevitably, I scorch a lot of hairs, which I remove so that the musician won't be annoyed with me. The result, after rosining, looks like a genuine re-hair, doesn't have any crossed hairs, and plays decently according to my slave violinist bow-tester (thank you Dad).

 

But it takes far too long to be practical, it's bad for the hair, and at heart I know that it's a cheat. We all know that flaming is only for snapping six or seven stray stragglers into place, not artificially firming up a sagging tangled pile of mess into a dark unholy thing that looks like, and yet somehow horribly is not, a ribbon.

 

Listen, I know that re-hairing is difficult to learn and just takes miles, and I'm fine with that. At this point I may need to carve three or five plugs before I get a good one, which is embarrassing, but at least I can do something different with my knife and see a different result. But I can't seem to do anything at all to change what's happening with these pallid filaments of existential gloom that just won't stay put in a ribbon. No matter how I vary my approach, and no matter which hair I use, the same thing happens. Which means that I'm the common denominator, so I know that I am the problem. But how? Dear god, how?

 

I was taught by one of the best bowmakers in the business (I won't sully his name by linking it with mine at this point), and it's shameful not to be able to do more justice to the excellent training he gave me. I was able to comb out and install hair that worked while I was in his shop. So I've done it, truly I have, but it's not working now. What do I need? A different jig? Different thread? A blood sacrifice on a stone altar at the new moon? Can somebody offer me a hint about what I'm doing wrong before I need to re-stock my vodka supply again?

 

Because I've started to buy the big bottles.

 

Many thanks in advance [puts head down, sobs, bangs fist into pile of hair shrapnel and maple shavings],

 

d.o.g.

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The one thing I haven't tried yet is a real metal rehair comb rather than the plastic flea comb I have now. It would be nice if I could fix the situation by Buying a Thing,, and I'm ordering one, why not, but I doubt that it will solve the problem entirely.

 

 

Get one.  IMHO, you're having two problems, one with static electricity, and having a conductive comb will help.  with every stroke of the plastic comb, you're charging the hair. Your relative humidity is the other problem, affecting the length and elasticity of the hair, and from what I'm hearing, paradoxically, the RH is higher than optimum (high RH alone will not automatically fix static charge problems).   

 

You've got an entertaining writing style  :) .

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I think that your comb is probably too fine, and the hair isn't slipping through easily. The teeth need only be small enough to comb the hair straight, not extract wildlife. An ordinary comb will do.

 

It sounds to me that you're trying too hard. You mustn't grip the hair too tight as you comb it through your fingers, or you'll over stretch hairs and end up with a mess. Just remain calm, comb the hair out, and hold it firmly enough to tie the knot.

 

If it's any comfort to you, the stallion is long gone, and was probably delicious.

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Thank you for your prompt replies; already I can sense enough of a glimmer of hope to cancel my order at the Hemlock Shoppe. What I'm seeing from you makes a lot of sense. Although now that I've read CR's reply, I'm all hungry for barbecue.

 

VdA: I'm sure that you're right, and AAMOF it has been both unusually hot and really humid in my area. Charging the hair fits what I'm seeing; one of my main frustrations was that the more I combed, the worse everything got. My brush also has plastic bristles, so brushing would charge the hair too, especially the finer hair. With all the money I'm saving on nooses and cyanide, I can get myself a really nice metal comb, so I'll do that and see how it goes. And thank you for the compliment. There's a reason why they call it "gallows humor."

 

CR: How did you know? That's exactly what's happening; the teeth of my comb are actually pushing the hairs *out* of the ribbon instead of combing them in like the Ministry of Hair says is supposed to happen. Trying too hard, gripping too tight, and excessive stretching also kind of sounds like me (and I can sense your astonishment that this should be so). As for staying calm, I'm afraid that ship has sailed, but I'll do my best. (See remark above about buying the big bottles. Very calming, and nothing goes better with a nice hot sandwich from The Land of Equestria.)

 

BD: I'm glad you like the pallid filaments. You should see some of the stuff I redacted from my drafts.

 

Additional Question: I've combed (ha! rim-shot) this forum for advice about the proper handling of the turning stick, and I've found lots of descriptions, but somehow, the words, they just... bounce. Turn hair? Turn knot? Press thumb - oh yes, but where?

 

I absolutely understand the theory of how the turning stick tensions the hair so that the hairs at the under-side of the ribbon are shorter, producing an even ribbon that exits the mortise from under the plug. What I don't get is the hands-on technique: where the thumb goes, how you change hands without losing the orientation of the hairs, how you can slam a shot at the same time, etc. Most of my week of instruction was spent learning how to carve wedges and plugs without chipping and splitting and offending the tree spirits, and I really didn't spend enough time on hairdressing. I understand that now.

 

So, for those of you who do use turning sticks and find them helpful, can I please see some pictures or video showing just how you do it? The videos I've seen somehow manage to cut away, or the camera is blocked by the re-hairer's hand, just at the point where I most need to see what's going on. (And I really did think that the interweb was better at not cutting away from key moments in videos.) I don't think I'm the only one who would appreciate having either stills or video on the subject of the turning stick available, and it would get a lot of questions cleared up for the new kids.

 

Thanks again and in advance - sandwich time.

 

d.o.g.

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delusionsofgrandure,

 

call me if you'd like. I have been rehairing bows now for about twenty years.

I've given up trying to teach people, because if they can rehair, they can, and if they can't, well I'm guessing that you already know the rest of this story.  but if you'd like, I can help you out of this mess.

 

  there are lots of areas in rehairing that may be problematic.

 

Call me if you'd like. I live in Roswell NM.  

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Maybe advice from a relative tyro will help somewhat. I haven't had quite your problem, but each time I do a final combing before inserting the hair, it turns up twisted hairs jammed against the knot. I've finally just started making a knot ~an inch past where it needs to be. Then I comb it again and trap all the crossed hairs in the interval between the “false” knot and the real one. Then of course I cut that away and proceed to the frog mortise. So far, I have theorized that the first, too-distant, knot causes the imp in charge of frustrating that particular hair job to relax for a moment, and the second knot is done before his attention returns to me.

 

Dave

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You should see some of the stuff I redacted from my drafts.

 

 

I am frequently thankful that no one can see mine  :lol:

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Hi guys -

 

Just look at all your bright shining faces gathered to help me in my hour of despair. What a great forum.

 

CT: Many thanks, I've got it. I'll be taking you up on your kind offer soon, probably early next week as the next couple of days are full for me. Re teaching: I agree that while skill and practice are crucial and vastly underrated, the native talent also has to be there. As for me, I've done four or five successful rehairs so far, and eight months ago I didn't even know that rehairing bows was a thing, so I'm guessing that it isn't time for me to give up all hope just yet. Besides, it may be mawkish of me, but I just love doing it. Talent? We'll see; it's unfashionable of me to say so, but I have always thought that it has to be there. Now excuse me while I kick some goshdarned kids offa my lawn.

 

DG: That's a good trick! Actually the problem of finding tangles near the knot is something I haven't run into - although now that your imp knows that, I'll expect a visit. Thanks for arming me in advance.

 

ES: I suspect that more is coming. Be afraid. (Haha, just kidding, I have no intention of filling this forum with bizarre verbal arabesques that would make Henry James mutter "Edit, dammit!" and send August Derleth off to the local sanitarium to get some peace and quiet. Nope nope nope. That would be just silly.)

 

And now I've got to go get a metal comb. I've seen bone and tortoiseshell combs, but I like VdA's theory about static, and if I don't try a metal comb I'll just lie awake all night staring into the darkness, wondering if it would have worked. (To each his hangup.) Plus a metal comb has a kind of steampunk appeal that I really like. Maybe I can find one with gears on it.

 

Many thanks,

 

d.o.g.

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D.o.g. , you will find what you seek written in a book called the Necronomicon. I regrettably am not in the habit of loaning out my copy.

Ja

[scratches her Tindalosian hound behind the ears and adds some metoritic pigment to her latest varnish batch]  Actually, it's also in the Lost Notebooks of Stradivari, right after the varnish recipe that begins, "Combine equal measures of aquafortis, vitriol, and willow shavings in a ceramic bowl.............".   :ph34r:  :lol:

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...have you checked to see if your house is built on an ancient equine burial site?

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D.o.g,

 

You really should consider doing a blog. "mawkish" ?  That's only the second time I have read that word. They have no mawks in Wyoming.

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They have no mawks in Wyoming.

If they let mink and falcons coexist in the vicinity of wild cannabis and fermenting silage long enough, they will.   :P  Aren't those things generally known as "weagles"?   :ph34r:  B)  :lol:

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D.o.g,

 

You really should consider doing a blog. "mawkish" ?  That's only the second time I have read that word. They have no mawks in Wyoming.

 

- creativity in and with the English language is something I can easily understand.

Making up my own words is also something that I can abide, and in fact, often do.

Hey violinss88, what's wrong with verbating or even createilizing the proper word, when the one you're going to use doesn't exist?

 

All the mawks have died off?

Damn.

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Mawks were high eating; company vittles if you will. Carrier pigeons were haute cuisine too, something like a Cornish Game Hen, but with smaller drum sticks. ;)

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- creativity in and with the English language is something I can easily understand.

Making up my own words is also something that I can abide, and in fact, often do.

Hey violinss88, what's wrong with verbating or even createilizing the proper word, when the one you're going to use doesn't exist?

 

All the mawks have died off?

Damn.

I've been wondering if we can declare "Medusa" a verb. As in, "this hair is Medusaing all over my workbench."

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