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The Wilder Side of Grooming

Daryl Conner//November 1, 2014//

The Wilder Side of Grooming

Daryl Conner //November 1, 2014//

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When Jerry Shinberg, founder of the All American Grooming Show, first challenged groomers to come up with something a little different in the competition ring, he could not possibly have imagined what the fertile imaginations of pet stylists would create as time passed.

From the first efforts of slightly different, unusual patterns, an entire arm of the grooming industry has developed and the creative competitions are the highlight and grand finale of grooming trade shows across the country. Intricate designs are clipped and trimmed, and color, feathers and gem stones are applied to create art on the living canvas of pets.

The level of craftsmanship and artistic talent have caused people outside of the grooming industry to sit up and take notice. Fashion photographer Paul Nathan used stunning photos of creatively groomed dogs to assemble an entire book, “Groomed.”

“I would say creative grooming is about taking grooming in the opposite direction of the practical maintenance of dog care,” he said of the project. “It is about creating an extremely fantastical, unique and imaginative artwork with the dog as the canvas, using non-toxic, washable dyes, masterful clipping and sometimes accessories.”

Angela Kumpe has won multiple creative grooming awards and international fame for her creations.

“The current trend is that new pet-safe products are becoming available from multiple sources,” she said. “One exciting new development is hair crayons. Many groomers have used chalk to get quick, vibrant color, but it fades quickly and can rub onto other parts of the coat, ruining a design. These new crayons are basically chalk in a wax base. It goes on as easy as chalk, the color is long lasting and it stays where you put it.”

Other popular trends like “face and bootie bling are popular, too, and can easily be added to pets by any groomer right in the salon,” she said.

Stylists use small gem stones to create impact either singly or used to fashion a pattern on pets’ faces or “booties.” The gems are attached to areas with short, smooth fur using nontoxic, water-soluble glue. “And another fun new trend is tattoos” she said. “Rub on tattoo transfers designed for children to use can be easily applied to pets’ underbellies, where the hair is already sparse and is usually given a sanitary trim anyway.”

Many companies have responded to groomers pleas for safe, easy-to-use color. Companies such as Davis Manufacturing, Warren London, Opawz, PetPaint and Espree now carry nontoxic colors, glitter and more.

Finding pet-friendly semipermanent dyes, temporary paste hair colors and unusual accessories has become much easier for everyday groomers. A stroll through trade show floors across the country allows groomers to find fun new products available at many booths.

Stylists are finding that just a small touch of color, nail art or one sparkling gem can cause a lot of excitement among their clients. These additions may only take an extra moment or two to apply, but can make a huge visual impact.

Kumpe recently caused a stir when she painted a facial portrait on the back of a smooth Chinese crested dog. She explained, “Lori, Craig and I were hired by an artist in June to design 13 dogs for him,” as part of an advertising project for a new clothing line. “One thing he asked me to do was paint the image of a French actresses face on the back of a Chinese crested. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it at first, but really it was pretty simple.”

First she printed a picture of the actress’s face in black and white. Then she cut out a stencil for the eyes, nose, nostrils and the outside edges of the lips.

“The rest of it was like putting on makeup,” she said. “I layered on colors, using an airbrush. First, tan, then sort of a ‘bronzer’ to create depth and the shape of the nose and cheek bones. I used different shades and kept layering; red to the lips, pink to the cheeks. Once when I was on the Queen Latifah show the makeup artist there took time to explain to me every step of how she applied makeup, and why. I used that information as I was airbrushing this face onto the dog with an Espree airbrush. The products were a combination of Bombay nontoxic India ink and the new Espress airbrush ink.”

She added false eyelashes to complete the picture and her results were stunning.