There are several ways I have created whiskers on my realistic creatures. I have my favourite ways and as that involves real whiskers I must often put a piece away for many months, sometimes years, in order to wait for those whiskers to come to me.
I have five indoor cats so I’m always on the look out for them in their favourite grooming spots. I have a substantial stash now and these are saved for the masterpieces.
My other go to method is to use horse hair. The hair from the mane is a little finer than the tail hair and some even graduate in colour which adds a lovely detail.
My favourite method of attachment is to dip the end of the hair into glue and place it into the felt. The reason I like this method more than sewing them in is because this way I can really control the direction of the hair. Using the natural curve of the hair to mimic the natural curve of a whisker. This is not as easy when you sew them in as they turn uncontrollably and it’s very difficult to tie a knot in a hair as it tends to untie itself over time. However it is possible to sew them through the sculpture making sure the hair is curved correctly and adding a drop of glue on the long side pulling it through the sculpture and leave to dry. My only dislike for this method is that most whiskers actually lay back along the face unless the creature has postured them forward.
The major difference between real whiskers and horse hair is that real whiskers graduate. They have a lovely bulbous root at the base which helps to secure them into the sculpture and then they are very fine toward the tip. It’s amazing how obvious this is once you really compare them, this is all part of training your eye for detail.
Horse hairs are pretty much the same diameter all the way through and look as though they have been cut at the end but still create a very impressive illusion. Getting them to stick into the sculpture is a little tricky with out a root, but worth the effort.
I have tried all sorts of things for whiskers like paint brush hairs, human hair, the guard hairs of my ginger cat for the whiskers on my little tiger, the list goes on. I can only encourage you to be inventive and find some inspirational source even if that means you are willing to approach your local vet for donations.
All I can say is the moment they are on is when you will truly understand “the cat’s whiskers” as defined in the Collins Dictionary, slang; a person or thing that is excellent or superior.