Surface Control – looking at Hair Spray and styling gel, initial investigation.

Surface Control – looking at Hair Spray and styling gel, initial investigation.

Like Ann, I have been having a  busy time since the last post. I was all set to head to Oakville then my trip was postponed to next week. So I am packed, but still need to find the camping cots we bought years ago to sleep on. They are nowhere to be found so we went out to Canadian Tire and bought a new one. I have been refining my notes on the chickadee as I made another armature. (well you just saw that so I don’t think you will be much interested in seeing a second bird so much like the one Mom got and liked! But I fear Ann’s Cookies may have been more appreciated!) The bird is now living in her living room by the window. I did have something I wanted to investigate further and now might be the right time to get part one started. This will have a time component so I will not make a full report now.

Surface Control – looking at Hair Spray and styling gel, initial investigation.

Last week I was wondering about how to reduce the flyaway fuzziness of Mom’s Chickadee. I eventually took matters in hand with a pair of fine sharp pointed scissors. This did quite a respectable job, but I had considered other options. Spray fixatives were used with pastels at school and being cheap art students we often bot inexpensive hair spray rather than proper artist fixative.  Will hair spray work on wool? Let’s Investigate!!

When considering fixatives/ hair spray there are a number of factors to investigate.

  • Does it hold the fuzz in check when initially applied (I was using the product instruction for distance for spraying.)
  • Dose the hold lasts more than a few hours or days?
  • Does it discolour the wool?
  • Are there any other changes in the wool that is noticeable at the time of spraying, or over time?

Off to the Dollerama to find cheap hairspray!  On previous visits, I had seen hair spray and hair gel (Glenn uses it to keep his hair neatly in a ponytail for work.) I found two hairsprays that looked interesting.

 1 the subjects of investigation.

 The “Blue sample” was Finesse – Superior hold Firm Unscented Hairspray, it boasted a weightless, dry finish.  The instructions are shake can then hold 20-30 cm away from hair (in my case wool)

The “Pink Sample” Was Salon Selective all day Volumizing Stay Put, Extreme Hold, enriched with argan oil from Morocco. ( I have no idea what that is but it sounds impressive!) The instructions are to shake the can and hold 20 to 25 cm away from hair/wool.

The “Black Sample” was AXE Styling Adrenaline Spiked-Up Look Extreme Hold Gel. Instructions, use a fingertip amount mix vigorously then style through hair.

The “None Sample” was Core wool from World of Wool in the UK,  just the wool covered by a piece of card stock to keep the sun off.

What I have learned so far: hairsprays have long names and seem slightly pompous in their extremeness. (No Hair products were harmed in this experiment and all hairspray will go to Glenn at the completion of this investigation.)


Next, I made the test felt pieces using the World of wool Core wool that I had hand carded. I made a sample 7 inches long and about 3 inches wide. I used a bit of light blue merino yarn to mark off the sections.

 2 making the needle felted wool sample

3 dividing the sample into sections for each application and a control or None section.

I masked off the sections that were not getting the spray treatment to reduce cross-contamination of the samples.

 4 Prep to spray the blue sample

 5 Blue spay applied

 6 parted off the excess and tried to compress the wool. Wax paper may have been a better choice, next time!

The Blue sample is unscented (mostly) and it gave a good light coverage at 30cm.

Next cover that sample and on the pink spray.

 7 pink sample was much wetter than the blue spray.

This gave a lot more wetness both on the surface and into the wool but it was also held at the suggested 20-25cm for this product.

Next up was the black sample

 8 I borrowed Glenn’s hair gel from the bathroom.

For this one, since I had to apply it to the surface I made little finger circles on the top half and stroked the felt in one direction on the bottom. It took a couple of fingers’ worth of gel to get the surfaced covered. The circular motions loosened up a few strands of wool but seemed to have stuck the surface down. It remained damp long after both Blue and Pink were dry.

 9 On the back of each sample I sewed on a tag saying which sample it was.

Then I covered the thin “None” sample on the right so it would not be in the sun.

10 the sample

Hum, maybe I should change that to half in the sun half out of the sun so we can see if the plain wool will change colour in the light…. Give me a moment I will fix that.

11 the upgraded sample

OK, now we can check if wool left in a window will change colour in the sun. (It may lighten I suspect, but let’s see if my hypothesis is correct.)

12  L to R; Pink, Blue and Black

Sample fuzz check at application Will the  hold last Is there any discolouration  at the application Is there any discolouration  over time other changes noticeable when applied or over time
None 4th fuzziest N/A N/A N/A N/A
Black Least fuzzy * see other Slightly shiny or more reflective Surface is compacted more than other samples also has the firmest surface
Blue Second least fuzzy Not noticeable Closest to None sample
Pink 3rd fuzziest Not noticeable 2nd firmest surface

13 table

Now we have gathered all the data to begin this experiment. We will have to return to this in a few weeks or a couple of months and see if we can see a change. By then I may have finally cleaned up my desk again, how does it get so messy?

Next week I will be off in Oakville likely working on the project I have started for Glenn. He has had only had one picture felted for him so far so I think he needs a sculpture. Here is the fabric that I hope will be part of his accessories (the sculpture, not Glenn).

14 it’s not the plaid I was looking for but it may work.

Have fun and keep felting!


16 thoughts on “Surface Control – looking at Hair Spray and styling gel, initial investigation.

  1. Very interesting experiment Jan. I never would have considered hair products for this purpose but, reading your piece now it certainly makes sense. 😊 Looking forward to seeing how the pieces react in the longer term. Enjoy your trip.

    1. i suspect there will be use for hair products with wool but lets see what works. i would hate to hair spray a sculpture and have the wool tint yellow over time. i will likely expand my investigation to other hair products too!
      after the aplication, and not considering posible discoleration, hair spay and sissors may be uesfull to reduce fly away fuzzyness. it will all hinge on the time conponent and seeing if we dont get a colour change. the blue sample may be best for retaining the wool texture. i will check if it looses hold over time.
      today is grey and overcast so not a lot of light to investigate any colour change yet!

  2. As usual Jan, a great post, lots of good photos and a thought provoking experiment. I do like your scientific way of going about these, and I’m looking forward to your conclusions.
    I’m also looking forward to seeing what you are going to make for Glenn. That piece of fabric with all the different weaves in the plaid looks very intriguing.

    1. thanks Ann! my mind is just full of questions! if i organize the question into experiments and investigations i should be able to find answers and that will generate even more questions! (and mite be usefull information in there too)

      the Glenn project is puttering along, still have to resolve feet vs hooves but i think i will make a 2 fingers and a thumb for the hands. i am blending clasic and mordern interpritations of my subject matter. i am also considering anitomical excessoryes so he will need underware or a kilt to keep from being educational. i quickly realized the leather apron would not hide that ummm…. excessory from the back vew. (the excessorys are detatched at the moment so i can keep working on him in public. without shoking anyone)

  3. Interesting and valuable post Jan. We like your scientific approach to the experiment.
    Perhaps though you should monitor the samples for several years because your art work would last decades.

    1. yes this could be a vary long running post! its grey and overcast today so not much of a change is likely yet! i will update at intervals and see how it gose

  4. Great experiment Jan I am looking forward to seeing the changes over time. I hope you are going to do weekly pictures. even wet felted pictures can have fuzziness so It will be interesting to see how it works. did the hair spray flatten the fuzzies when you pressed them with the card? Its hard to tell in the pictures.

  5. yes the pressing seemed to help i think a wax paper may be better less likly for the wool and hairspray to stick to or lift when you remove the card. the blue sample smeed to be the least fuzzy after pressing.

  6. Jan, you are our resident scientist! Always experimenting and seeing what happens and the effects of the variables. I look forward to seeing how time effects the products.

    1. thanks Ruth! i have more questions than answers but if i keep investigating i will have more answers too! i hope others will investigate too and then share there results.
      i have more surface questions for needle felting as i investigate further i will share. but i may get distracted by other projects on the go. i do like having multiple projects going at the same time.

  7. Jan I’m even more intrigued and mind boggled at your description of Glenn’s piece(!)
    Is he of Scottish extraction?

    1. Glenn is of Welsh ancestry, by adoption i am Scottish on both sides. i was looking at both Welsh and Scottish inspiration and decided i liked the Scottish version for its fluffiness. (Glenn is rather Fluffy too.)
      i will defiantly show you what i’m up to soon!

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