How to Get Velvet Scissor Finish
Melissa Verplank CMG, Founder Paragon School of Grooming
Is scissoring becoming a lost art? I’m all for speed and efficiency but if you are proficient with your dog grooming shears, you can trim a dog almost as fast without the shortcut aids of clippers and guard combs.
If you are serious about creating a quality in your finished trims, you need to master the art of scissoring.
How do you do it? How do you get a coat that is plush like velvet? When you comb through it, no stray hairs stick out. There are no rough spots in the coat. The dog looks great when it leaves the shop. Not only that, but the trim also holds together for 2 days, 2 weeks or even up to 6 weeks after the grooming.
Here are the 3 Elements of Great Scissoring.
# 1. Core Skills No matter how capable you are as a scissorer, if the foundation of a groom isn’t sound, you’ll never get that velvet finish. The dog needs to be clean, really clean – squeaky clean. The coat is blown dry so EVERY hair is straight. No waves. No curls. When you sink a comb deep into the coat, it pulls through smoothly. There cannot be a mat or tangle in the coat. Every hair shaft is separated, light and airy.
These items are ‘core skills’ – skills that need to be mastered to perfection in order to accomplish gorgeous scissor work. Your core skills of the grooming process must be solid.
#2. Tools You’ll need a variety of tools and products to get a beautiful result. You’ll need few pairs of straight shears, curved shears, and blending shears in a combination of lengths, curvatures and tooth configurations. The higher the quality of the grooming shear, the better of a cut you will get.
This doesn’t mean you need a hundred pairs of scissors in your collection - but you do need more than two.
Generally, the quality of a shear is directly related to cost – like everything else, you get what you pay for. Don’t be afraid to spend a few hundred dollars on a good pair of shears. If you take care of them, they will last for most of your career.
Build your collection over time. You don’t need to do it in one swoop. Talk to leading stylists and find out what shears they like. Don’t forget, when buying scissors, make sure they fit YOUR hand and feel comfortable as you run them.
#3. Running the Shears You must hold and run the shears correctly. Holding them correctly will balance the shear in your hand minimizing stress. You will have the most control over your shears if you run them with your thumb and ring finger. To get that velvet finish, you’ll need to scissor with your body, not just your hand or arm.
You need to move – following over the dog’s body in a fluid motion. Depending on the shear, sometimes you need to keep your hand dead steady as you run the shears. Many times, with thinners and blenders, you’ll need to give the shear a slight bounce. If you look, there are books, videos, exercises and seminars on this topic alone.
There is nothing more gratifying than seeing an exquisitely scissored dog. It could be in the contest ring, at a certification test site or simply walking out of your salon on a daily basis. Consistently producing top quality grooms represents success to any pet groomer or stylist. Mastering the art of a velvet scissor finish on a dog is a testament to a true artist.
There are many scissoring lessons from champion groomers in the training library at www.Learn2GroomDogs.com. One of my favorites is from Colin Taylor. According to Colin, "Scissors are like shoes." Start your collection and you'll see what he means!