Thursday, 18 March 2010

Adrift in the World of Wig Styling

As promised I have been as good as my word and prepared a little photo blog of my first proper attempt at wig styling – my Jackalope wig.

To begin – here’s a picture of the original wig (I bought mine from the brilliant Annabelle’s Wigs) so you can see what I started with.

Originally (like back when I was still thinking about buying a pre styled drag queen wig) I was going to use a readheaded wig but I gradually came round to a pale blonde as I wanted the whole costume to have a dirty yellowed out white theme running through it.

Here is a picture of my inspiration of what I wanted the wig to look like (the picture is from America’s Next Top Model – the lovely Allison).

As my Jackalope lives in a forest (I think ‘real’ Jackalopes usually live on plains or prairies but I have allowed myself some creative licence!) I wanted the wild, tangled look with twigs, plant matter or feathers twined into it. I had been daydreaming about something in this general area for some time but hadn’t been able to nail down the exact style until I saw the episode of ANTM that this shoot was from. As soon as I saw Allison with her hair styled this way I knew that this was the look I wanted for my wig!

My base wig was from Annabelle’s Wigs. The style is ‘Danielle’ and it has a skin top. For those who are interested a skin top is useful for wig styling if you want to mess about with the parting. Without a skin top wigs normally only part one way and trying to part it any other way will just expose the lace the hair is mounted on. There are ways you can change the part on a wig without a skin top but I haven’t attempted them yet as it looks like a pretty complicated process! As the original wig has a centre part and the style I wanted has no parting at all I thought the skin top would be a good idea (although in reality I might have been able to do it another way if I had got a wig that didn’t have this feature).

So I started off by pinning my wig to my wig head which I have affixed onto a stand made out of an old artificial Christmas tree. I pinned it around the outer edge but I also put extra pins in the lace above each section while I worked on it to avoid putting excess pressure on the wig and ripping or stretching it.

After securely fixing the wig to the head I used a tail comb and a hair elastic fastened loosely to section off the portion of the wig at the front that would make the backward bangs/pompadour/quiff whatever you like to call it.

It stayed pretty firmly parted down the centre but I tried not to worry too much about that as that would be remedied when I styled that part. Then it was time to begin the backcombing process. I started at the bottom back. I figured that way if I had any teething troubles at the start they would be hidden by the rest of the hair when the wig was finished. I used my tail comb to part the hair and clipped the parts I didn’t want up out of the way. Then I took the hair in small sections and started backcombing. After I had done a section I misted it lightly with hairspray. I have been using Tresemme because that’s what I’ve got but supposedly Aquanet is the wig stylist’s spray of choice.

At first my technique was not great and some of the sections began to look a little dready. I used to make synthetic dreads some years ago and the technique for backcombing the wig is in some ways very similar to that and in others the exact opposite. With synthetic dreads the objective is to keep them nice and tight and in a well defined shape, whereas for this backcombed style the idea is to make it loose but still voluminous. When I first started I backcombed the hair sections quite strongly like you would when making dreads and this made them rather tight at the root. This tightness meant they stood up and out giving the hair lots of body but it also made the sections look a little too ratty and separate. As I got more used to what I was doing I found it worked better to backcomb the sections more gently and after every few strokes to pull the hair apart from itself (exactly the opposite of making a dread where you would twist the hair in on itself). This makes the hair less ratty and sectioned and gives it more of the ‘candyfloss’ sort of look that I wanted.

When I had worked my way up to somewhere between half and one third of the head I looked at how much hair I had left and decided to add an extra weft in for thickness. Originally, when I looked at the wig I didn’t think it would need any extra wefts put in but as I worked my way up I thought I would put an extra one in under the philosophy ‘better safe than sorry’.

I had originally planned to buy two wigs and rip wefts from one to put in the other but I ended up buying extra wefts (actually they were clip in extensions) separately and having the second wig more as a spare in case I ballsed up the original! This meant it was quite simple to attach an extra weft, all I had to do was remove the two little clips and then they were ready to go in! To sew in the weft I parted the hair horizontally and clipped the top section up with an alligator clip and then I pinned the weft to the wig and wig head, stretching it as I went so it fit neatly. I used a curved sewing needle to sew it in although I’m still not sure whether that made it easier or not, it was only my first time using one and I bought it as it was the recommended thing to use for this task. I am going to stick at using it for this reason but we’ll see if it makes things easier once I get used to it.
Here is a picture of the wig, from the back, after I sewed the extra weft in (to be honest, it's not a great photo - I should have taken one a bit closer up!):

After I sewed the extra weft I got back to backcombing and the rest of the wig took shape fairly quickly. I was really pleasantly surprised at how big I could get it with only one extra weft. After I had done the body of the wig I just had to do the quiffed back bangs. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to entirely get rid of the part but it wasn’t a problem. I backcombed them in the same way and almost moulded them backwards into shape. At the moment I haven’t permanently sewn or otherwise attached them backwards (I’m not sure whether it will necessarily need it) just in case the height or shape needs tweaking when it’s on my head.

Now all I need to do is attach my antlers, rabbit ears and the other wig adornments and decorations. As my antlers as the central piece I am going to wait ‘til I receive and attach them before I put anything else on the wig. I have been talking about doing a little fun photoshoot with Cherryfox Fine Photography before I add the extra bits onto my wig so if that ends up happening I will post the results up here!

Hope some of you found my wig styling walk through interesting. If you did and would like to see more of the same or if you want to know anything further about how I styled this wig (it’s pretty simple really as I am just a beginner to wig styling) give me a shout! PS.Apologies for the quality of the pictures, I took them on my phone so they're not amazing - at some point I will winkle out the cable for the proper digital camera!

‘Til next time

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