I'm writing this post to answer some of the questions I get about the fur/hair I use for my miniature dolls and animals, so hopefully this is going to help those of you who are wondering about where to get it, what it is etc :)
What is it?
The hair/fur I use is real animal fur/hair/fibres. And when saying this, I usually get some comments saying it's animal cruelty - but it doesn't have to be;
Some of these fibres come from animals like alpacas, yaks, sheep, rabbits and more. It is possible to "harvest" all of these without hurting the animals. You can cut, trim, shave or brush it off depending on which animal you're talking about. As an example it's normal to shave a sheep to obtain its wool. As for rabbits, a lot of people brush them like you often do with pets - this way only the 'mature' strands of hair are collected. It's always a good idea to check with the seller (often it'll be stated on the listing/website).
I do have 1 pack of hair where the animal was killed. This was from lamb. I chose to buy this because I needed a very specific texture (curls that would be small even in miniature scale). But when you think about it, a lamb is one of the animals we eat, and I personally am of the belief that it's better to use up as much of the animal as possible, so if you eat the meat, you can might as well use the fur as well. (everyone is entitled to having an opinion, if you disagree, you can choose not to buy this specific type of fur).
Where can you buy it?
A lot of the fibres I have (Mohair, alpaca and angora rabbit) is from a website called forest-fibres.co.uk... Unfortunately this site does no longer exist. I bought it back in 2011/2012, and had I known it was going to close, I woul've bought a lot more.
But you can also find sellers on other websites, if you make a search on Google, or from sellers on ebay. I have bought fibres from ebay sellers multiple times, but one thing you need to keep in mind is that these listings may not stay available for weeks, months or years if stock runs out and they don't relist.
when searching on ebay try something like "mohair fibre" or "alpaca fibre".
What types of fur do I use?
The ones I use are;
Mohair,. Alpaca/silk mix,. Alpaca,. Angora rabbit,. Merino.
But there are others available as well.
Can you use other types of wool or something else?
In my first bunny tutorial (and for a couple of dogs I made in 2012) I used yarn. Depending on the type you get, this can work really well! but the type I used give the animals a very fuzzy texture and would look horrible for doll-hair.
When I started making miniature dolls I experimented with synthetic hair. The problem with synthetic hair is that it doesn't work well for 1:12th scale. It can be extremely difficult to manage in such a small scale, and even though it can be forced to work, the end result is not worth it. It just looks too shiny and fake, and is too thick as well.
What are the difference between the different types of animal fibre?
I am not an expert, so it might be worth doing some research or experimenting on your own - this is just my opinion;
I've found that mohair is really good for doll hair - I've used that on all my miniature dolls. When it comes to animals you could definitely use it for the mane and tail of a horse or something similar. It also works pretty well for achieving a shiny looking fur on larger animals - I used it for the brown parts of my Saint Bernard.
Alpaca, to me, would work for the same as mohair - I used this for the mane/tail of my unicorn. It's a bit more fine and softer than mohair, so I think it works better for small stuff like the fur on a bunny.
Angora fibres are extremely soft and the individual strands of hair are not very defined. I've used this for the beard of a santa before and I use it for the white fur on animals - as it's the only WHITE I have, I have other 'white' fibres, but they are more like a natural white which would work well as blonde hair on a doll.
Merino is a fibre I only received a few days ago (am waiting for more in the mail). I've found that it is very soft as well, probably softer than alpaca. The individual strands of hair seems to be more defined than the angora fibres but less defined than alpaca or mohair, and I did use the merino for a grey bunny which worked out wonderfully. it looks a bit more fuzzy than sleek.