Scuplting a Persian's face
by Patsy Bowman,
Face sculpting..... an art that comes easier to some than others .Anyone can learn with patience and practice...practice.... practice. Soon you will develop an eye for what you want to accomplish....... the perfect round Persian face.
Start sculpting the face of your show kitten at four or five months of age and continue with face plucking throughout his show career. In most cases after the first initial sculpting all you will need to do is maintenance plucking - every one or two weeks should keep your cat in great show shape. Be sure to practice on a kitty you are not showing until you feel confident to sculpt your show kitty.
Snap some pictures of your cat's head and you will see where and how much hair you need to take off. I have found that the best way to see which hairs need to come off is to study pictures taken before, during and after sculpting. You may see in the pictures areas you missed that the light of the flash exposes.
Once you have bathed, dried and combed out your kitten/cat your ready to start sculpting his face. Find a well lighted area to work. You can use a face comb or metal Course /fine 7.5x1 comb to comb the cheek hair so you can see what you have to work on. Keep a minds eye on the rounded shape you are going for while you sculpt. We want to make the face look round. The Persian standard calls for full cheeks and a chin that is full, well-developed, and firmly rounded, reflecting a proper bite.
Use your cat/kittens outside corner of his eye as a guide , make an imaginary line down as your dotted line. The green line follows the curve of the top lip out to his cheek. Any face hair that falls below the green line is hair you will remove with the sculpting knife. The stripping knife will shorten the long hairs as well as some tapering of the hair. When you think the stripping knife has gotten you to the "ruff cut" of what your going for it is time to turn to natures best tools ...... your fingers. Use your fingers to pluck and sculpt above that line for a naturally feathered look.
The dotted red line shows where you should stop plucking. The sculpt muzzle should blend into the hair on the side of his face. Sculpting done correctly will look natural, as if he was born that way. Remember not to pluck or sculpt any hair beyond the dotted line , we want our cats face to look smooth, round and free of clumps of hair ...not bald. Pluck and shape the cheeks until they look feathered and natural. When plucking you should only take a few hairs at a time. You might want to pluck a little hair under the chin if it looks scruffy. You can also use blunt end scissors to trim up the chin hair if it looks too long. You want the chin to look smooth, round and strong. When working on your cat's face try not to cut off the whiskers.
You can find Stripping knives at any company selling animal grooming products such as Revival : revivalanimal.com or Jeffers: jefferslivestock.com. I`ve bought them at CFA shows as well. Laura Thomas of Purrinlot recommends a TAMSCO Stripping Knife Round Handle Round Handle Stainless Steel Wooden Handle Extra Fine Teeth (pictured above.)
The sculpting knife is a very helpful tool for those cats that have a lot of hair hanging off the cheek.
To use a stripping knife, hold it firmly in your hand, with your thumb placed on the top rounded portion of the blade as shown. Working on a few hairs at a time, the knife can be used to pull hair out or in larger sections of hair to cut the hairs in a natural manner - it depends on the angle the knife is held at against the hairs and the placement of the knife on the hair. Patience is the virtue I`m in need of..... so I place my stripping knife right at the imaginary line while holding the hair under my thumb and pull toward me cutting the hair.
Every now and then stop, step back and take a look at your cat's face to make sure you like your results. Look at your cat from all angles looking for hair that needs plucking.
You don't want to take off too much hair at one time, which is why Laura and I recommend you only use an extra fine tooth comb. It's better to start out slow and take as much hair as you feel comfortable with at first. You can always take off more later but you sure can't put it back once it's gone.
Our model is, GC. Kanora`s Partly Cloudy of Patlen, is all set and ready for show:-)
Sculpting can make the face look much rounder as shaping the hair on top the head, and removing the horns (those little tuffs of hair they develop on top of the head beside the ears) can broaden the head and make those ears look tiny. Your kitty is your clump of clay. Now start sculpting your work of art!
Purrinlot wishes to take a minute here and thank Patsy Bowman, of Patlen Persians for taking the time to write this page and for providing photo's helping to explain and teach the art of sculpting in a clearer more accurate way of learning.
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