Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creative Color

Creative coloring has been around for years. I have an old poodle grooming book from the 1950's that gives instructions on how to use food coloring to dye light colored poodles. Many people would love to add color to pets and often wonder what a safe way to color your dog is. Now keep in mind I am a DOG groomer, I don't often work with cats and have no opinion on what is and is not safe for your cat. The poodle pictured below is Jazz, she lives here, and is our resident therapy dog. She is often colored for her therapy work and the people she visits love it. Jazz seems to know when she is "in color" as we call it, she prances and wags and is in general very very happy. There are some people out there who disagree with the whole concept of creative grooming in general and creative coloring in particular. They have their reasons. Some say it is disrespecful to the animal, others think it poses a health hazard, and still others feel it is cruel. I can tell you from my experiences that nothing could be further from the truth provided the products used to color my girl's hair are non toxic and safe for her skin. As I said, she always seems happier and she gets TONS of attention from strangers, which she loves, when she is in color. 

I use manic panic with great sucess (to good in fact lol) I have also used food coloring and crayola side walk chalk, crayola markers, and a personal favorite Crayola blow pens. It takes a lot longer to get coverage with any of the crayola products but in most cases water will take it right out of the coat. Very very temporary. Though I did have purple sidewalk chalk stay in Jazz's ears for several weeks once.

Here are some examples and quick facts as I have learned them on a few various methods.

Hair Bows, Hair Dye and Other Silly Things~**-2009_0524jazznzoey0007.jpg
Done with blow pens and markers. The blow pens take a bit of work but once you get the hang of it it's pretty easy, like air brushing. Not ok to try doing this for an all over color, you'll get a headache at the least and pass out at the worst (yeah I learned that already lol). The markers are really easy to use but not on long hair, it's hard to do it on long hair. You can use them to stencil but again only on short hair. The longer the hair is the less crisp your line is it just becomes a big splotch of color instead of a heart or a rainbow like you intended. Blow pens WILL rub off on wet hands, as will markers. If it gets wet it will likely run and or fade very quickly. To get coverage in longer hair takes longer and more ink. You'll probably need several blow pens of the same color to accomplish the look you're going for. The method is pretty simple. Blow ink onto hair and run a comb through the hair once to distribute the ink as evenly as possible. All done. Markers are MUCH harder to use than blow pens except on very short hair. Jazz's poms were done with markers I had to sit and color and comb and color and comb over and over to get the light blue I achieve. Looking closely you can see that I didn't get really even coverage. The red was also done with markers but since the hair was so short in the red areas it was very simple. Just color like you would on paper and then blot with a paper towel to make sure it's dry and isn't going to rub off. Keep in mind though, get this stuff wet and it IS going to rub, run, and fade on whatever it touches.

Hair Bows, Hair Dye and Other Silly Things~**-2009_10150012.jpg
Done with sidewalk chalk - body and blow pens - mane and tail.

Side walk chalk can be dusty and it's hard to get all of the dust out when you do a full body thing like what I did here. I used my dryer to try and blow the excess off. Problem was it's the dust that is the color so the more you blow off the lighter the color becomes. It's MUCH better used in small areas like highlights for the ears that I did here on my very first experiment with coloring Jazz. It's also hard to get even color on long hair with chalk, easier with blow pens.  To use the chalk you soak it in water, cool water will work but warm water worked better for me. Rub wet chalk on hair and comb through. It will take a couple of applications and you will have to re soak the chalk several times I promise. The wetter the chalk is the more color you will get to stick to the hair. The purple body lasted about a day as pictured and then faded a ton. I also had purple dust on my black leather couch. Probably this was because the chalk was to dry during application and thus was more dusty? I don't know for sure. What I do know is that I won't likely be trying an all over color with chalk again though the ear highlights below are cute and I liked.
Hair Bows, Hair Dye and Other Silly Things~**-2008_11150016.jpg
Jazz's chalked ear highlights that lasted for weeks :) even through washing. Most chalk doesn't last that long though.

Hair Bows, Hair Dye and Other Silly Things~**-2009_1025pinkjazz0017.jpg
Food Coloring all over
Food coloring in cheap and easy to use. It will not wash out right away or rub off on hands, not even wet hands. It fades gradually with each bath. It's also hands down the easiest to get. Head down to walmart, in the baking isle, and they have boxes of just one color, it's a 1oz bottle. I takes 6 or 7 to dye Jazz in the above picture. Don't get the multi pack of food colors, those are too tiny and don't get any gel colors or anything like that. Just plain old McCormic food coloring. Usually they have red, green, and yellow - I have yet to see the blue but I am sure it exists. Less than 2 bucks a bottle I do believe.What you want to do here is dump the food coloring into a spray bottle and if you desire add a few table spoons of water. I try not to add anything if I can help it because the more you add to it the lighter the color will be since most of it will come off. PUT ON GLOVES before applying color. Spray dog down, careful of the face and eyes, I wouldn't even do the face to be honest, and let sit for 20 or more minutes. Rinse and viola Pink poodle. You will by the way want to remember that you will also get a much much lighter color with food coloring. It will not be possible to get red, it will always come out pink. Some dogs don't hold the blue pigment well and will turn out purple when you try and use blue. I haven't experienced that myself but I have heard of it.

Actual dyes, like manic panic, are reasonably cheap and will wash out eventually... most colors anyway. Red you are stuck with so make sure not to apply it anywhere you want it gone in a hurry. You get much deeper richer colors with dyes like this.
Hair Bows, Hair Dye and Other Silly Things~**-2009_0622jazzcreativegrooming0138.jpg

The thing to keep in mind with dye AND food coloring is you need to assume that the finished color will be much lighter than what it looks like in the bottle. For example to dye a poodle pink with food coloring you need several of the larger one ounce bottles of RED food coloring and about half an hour to let it sit in the coat before rinsing it out. Gloves are also a good idea with any color lol.
this is what it looked like in process with the food coloring
Hair Bows, Hair Dye and Other Silly Things~**-2009_1025pinkjazz0006.jpg
by the way this stuff will stain anything that will absorb it so while it came off the shower/bath tub pretty easily it didn't come off the rug or the door when she unexpectedly jumped out before she had been rinsed! LoL

Nail polish is FUN FUN FUN!! Love it!! I don't use the pet brand nails polishes either if I can help it. It chips off waaay to quickly, takes to long to dry (IMO) and requires several coats. I go to walgreens and purchase a brand called sinful colors. It lasts just long enough, dries faster than any dog polish I have ever used, and doesn't always need coat after coat after coat to achieve the desired color. It's also in most cases cheaper than the pet stuff. I do have several bottles of the pet nail polish and when I do use it I always put a coat of white (from the above mentioned walgreens brand) on the nail first so I get a truer color. It's an extra step and a pain so as you might imagine I rarely use the pet nail polish.

This is an example of the sinful colors polish job
Hair Bows, Hair Dye and Other Silly Things~**-2009_0525jazz0009.jpg

You might have noticed, I'm a bit of a creative grooming freak LoL though I am still experimenting.I have read of other products that can be used safely to color pets but have never used them so obviously cannot offer an opinion on them. These days there are dyes specificly marketed to pets the supply company Pet Edge sells one for example. I have hear mixed reviews on some of these products and thus haven't tried them out.

One more important note, in some places it is illegal to color your pet. I can think of two off the top of my head. You may check and make sure it is OK  before you color. In some places it is OK for YOU to color your own dog but not OK for a groomer to do it for you, this is the case where I live. While I can color Jazz if I desire I cannot color a client's poodle and charge them for the service. Silly law but honestly I'm fine with it. I don't have time to color every poodle I meet :P

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