Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Creating Custom Colour When Making Wigs and Hairpieces

One of the things I have been working on lately is creating customised colour to match hair (e.g. for hair pieces) or to create a really salon-fresh look, which some people want.

With hairpieces, a customised colour is pretty much essential in order for the hairpiece to blend seamlesslely and naturally with the wearer's own hair.

There is an exception - sometimes people naturally have hair that does not have multi-tones. Good examples of this are people whose hair is colour 1 or 1b.

A good way of making a nice blend or mix is to combine several shades within a certain colour range, e.g. 6, 8, 10. You will find some references online for colour blends if you want ideas to get started on creating your own color mixes (hint: take a look at sheitel sites to find examples).

Here's an example of one of mine using 8 and 10 virgin European human hair.

8/10 Human Hair Colour Mix

The 10 is raw hair which has a range of tones within it because it came from one donor. The 8 is purchased, so the colour is more consistent strandwise, but there is still variation within the strands.

You can choose to blend all the colours you select in order to create an overall new colour or you can choose to create a high-lighted or low-lighted effect. I chose to add low-lights by putting the darker tone over the lighter hair.

As you can see, the darker tone occurs in small sections like low-lights sometimes do (although you can of course choose to do chunkier sections if you wish). In order to add low or high-lights, you can do this by ventilating selectively as you reach the upper layers of your hairpiece or wig. Another option is to add them via dyeing the hair after making the wig/hairpiece (as you would do in a salon). The downside being the hair is no longer virgin. If it was not virginmhair to start with, you may not always get the result you expect when dyeing as you do not know how the hair has been treated before younlaid your hands on it.

If you wish to create a blended/entirely new colour, you can do this by passing all the shades of hair through a hackle. For an example of this, have a search on YouTube - there is a video of a gentleman blending synthetic hair using a hackle. If you do not have a hackle, another option is to place all the shades in your drawing cards and take a little from each shade as you work (although this will appear far less blended than if you use an actual hackle).

Monday, 18 November 2013

Where to Buy Virgin European Human Hair for Wig and Hairpiece Making

A wig making friend of mine just found my blog and that got me thinking: I am conscious I haven't written here for a while. Apologies! I have been really busy doing a lot of background work, and also struggling with my chronic health problems. Unfortunately this means that I don't have time for the extras like blogging.

I meant to post pictures of a couple of things I have made so I will try and get round to that ASAP.

In the meantime, I have had some questions sent to me recently. I have replied to everyone, but the answer to one of them I thought might be useful to post on here and I will elaborate a little.

One of my blog readers asked where she could source cuticle correct hair that is suitable for a caucasian.

Raw European Hair for Wigs and Hairpieces

Procuring true cuticle hair is complicated unless you know where to go to. There are SO many sources on the Internet claiming to sell virgin this and remi that... a lot of it is absolute falsehoods, and it's very easy to end up buying really poor quality hair for a high price.

If one wants to buy cuticle hair, then the best type of hair for someone who is caucasian would be virgin European human hair. This type of hair is really expensive, so it is best to use it when you know what you are doing (rather than for learning and practising) and to use it on hairpieces and wigs that you envisage having a long life. In order to get the most value from this hair type, as it lasts a long time, you would not really want the base/foundation to expire before it does.

It's really important when buying hair to ensure not only is the cuticle intact, but also aligned (meaning that it has been kept root to tip - clearly identifiable so that you know which end is which).

There are a few sources where I would buy this from, but to make this simple I will list the 2 main ones. Both sell cuticle correct and aligned, virgin European human hair in a range of colours and amounts (you can buy per small increment).

US - De Meo Brothers in New Jersey. http://demeobrothers.com/

UK and Europe - Hugo Royer. http://www.royer.co.uk/myshop.php?cat=34

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Ventilation - The Art of Knotting Hair

I have had a couple of queries regarding how to learn to ventilate and/or comments from people who remarked that they were struggling to ventilate, so I thought I would post a little help here.

Ventilation is a difficult process to describe accurately solely by words, so I thought I would post the video that I found most helpful when I was learning:

  1. Get a large piece of tulle or wig net instead of lace, a ventilating needle & holder and some hair. Pin a piece of the tulle or wig net to your block SECURELY. Ricky doesn't have his pinned very securely, but then he is a professional so he can get away with this, but if you are learning and your tulle/net is flapping, it makes it just that bit harder as you don't know - at this stage - how to compensate for it.
  2. Practice catching one hair in the needle. It is much easier to learn to ventilate if you focus on one hair.
  3. It's all about the tension! - The way that a knot is formed relies very heavily on the wig maker having the correct tensions between the hair that is held in a loop in one hand and the needle that has caught the hair and is pulling it through in the other hand... if the tension on the needle is not strong enough, you will struggle and end up losing the hair out of the needle.
  4. Don't pull too much! If you pull the hair strand hooked on the needle too far away from the loop in your other hand you will struggle to maintain the correct tension. Keep it small and neat. You need enough hair pulled through but not too much that it becomes loose and falls off the hook. 
Once you have mastered ventilating several rows of single strand hair, you can then progress onto using a piece of lace (which has smaller holes) and practice some rows on there. 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Back to the Wig Block - Working on a Small Hairpiece

It's September and I am finally back to normal - so my blogging and answering emails should become more frequent. Apologies to anyone who has been waiting for a reply! I shall be catching up with replies this week. I was away for much of August, so had put down the ventilating hook and the computer/blogging/emailing and taken a break. I think sometimes this is just what we need when we work so hard at a craft that is quite physically and mentally demanding.

Anyway, back to the wig block! I am in the midst of working on another hairpiece. This particular one is the smallest I have made so far and I shall be interested to see how it works on the wearer's head. I am hoping it will function as intended. It is a clip-on hairpiece that has a seamed/galloon edge. My concern is that with length being far greater than width, it may not sit as flat as I would like.

Tiny Hairpiece Base - Parting Piece
One issue with making a hairpiece is that it is very hard to tell exactly how it will behave until you have finished it as the weight of the ventilated hair adds an element of structure/stiffness to the 'floppy' base and that, in turn, helps to keep the hairpiece flush to the wearer's head (I guess the force of the weight of the hair is being exerted downwards onto the scalp). As a result, I shall have to see what the end result is and will report back with some pictures.

I have some wig pictures to post of a lace front wig that I made - will post them at some point in the next few weeks.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Making Hairpieces - Special Challenges

One of the things I have discovered over the years that I have been working at wig making is: there's always something new to learn! Perhaps surprisingly, given their size, hairpieces are a nice little challenge and there is a lot more to designing and making them than meets the eye. Due to the way in which a hairpiece is worn, I find there is a certain complexity to the design and planning stage and this goes beyond what I would normally need to think about when designing and planning a wig.

How much hair?

With a wig, I can generally guesstimate how much hair I will need; however, with a hairpiece this is more complicated as one has to think:

How big is the hairpiece?
How dense does the hairpiece need to be?
Will the hairpiece be totally hand tied?
Is the hairpiece going to be really short or really long or somewhere in the middle?

Length and density can dramatically affect the amount of hair needed, and hand tying has implications over a hairpiece that incorporates a mixture or weft and ventilation.

Big versus Small Base?

Another aspect to think about when they are planning a hairpiece is:

How big does the base really need to be?

When I was working with people who had hair loss, I noticed that there was a tendency for people to want to get the biggest hairpiece possible, but this does not always work out for the best:
  • The wearer was over-compensating for their loss and needed less hair. Too much hair looks fake.
  • As with wigs, a lot of hairpieces are made with excess hair which means they are far denser than a normal/average head of hair would be. In reality this means that the bigger the base, the more excess hair there is - this is hair which we would not normally have on our heads and suddenly there it is... and you know what? It looks fake too. This is, unfortunately, especially true when you put such a hairpiece on the head of someone suffering from partial hair loss/alopecia. The thick density of the hairpiece does not blend well with the natural density of their own hair: the two do not merge. Sometimes people with hair loss have to adapt to the fact that the hair they have left has changed, and rather than trying to achieve what they used to have, it is better and more realistic to work with what they have - thus someone who used to have thick hair may find that when replacing what is lost, to effectively blend it with what they have means they end up with a medium density. For those wearers who do not like this idea, a wig can sometimes be better as there are less or no issues of blending with their own hair.
A solution may be one of the following:
  1. A smaller base - If the person wants to compensate for one or two layers of hair, a small hairpiece can work wonders. Sometimes less is more! In this situation, hairpiece base length tends to be more important than width. The hairpiece needs to cover the front to crown to provide a sheet/wall of hair falling down over the person's own hair, whereas width just adds more hair so 2 inches for minimal loss or someone wishing to cover their roots would work well.
  2. Rethinking the large base - Sometimes it is better to stick with a large base rather than ventilating the same amount of hair as you intended to 'replace' into a smaller base, as this can result in a dense/thick hairpiece and a poor blend between the wearer's hair and the hairpiece. Instead you would ventilate less hair into a larger area of base material; this results in the hair being spread over a greater area, thus looking more natural rather than having a lot of hair ventilated into a small area and looking like a great clump/chunk of hair plopped on top of someone's head. If you do decide to ventilate less hair into a larger base, it is worth thinking about the part line (if there is one) and ensuring that it will be dense enough. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Men's Toupee Hair System - making, cutting & styling

Recently I had to make a hair system (toupee) that was to be in a 1960s pompadour style. Effectively it should look like the top of this but without the gel:

From: http://www.elvis.com/news/detail.aspx?id=6399

The Base - I used durable wig net and a lace perimeter that enables bonding and a natural hairline. This is the first time I have used wig net is for this type of work. The pros are that it is cheap, it is a reasonable colour if working with brown hair and it is very durable. The cons are that the holes are very large and because the hair on the top of the head is more likely to separate than hair hanging down, you can rely less on heavily dense large knots to hide the holes than if this material was being used at the back or sides of a wig. As a result I had to do so many more knots, which was time consuming.

The Hair - I used Indian hair in a number 4 with some blonde to to create a variation of colour/highlight. This type of hair is softer and more malleable than say Chinese, and the natural movement/kink/wave of the hair helps when creating the hairstyle. The hair was a lot longer than I needed for this style, but it didn't matter as I was going to cut it anyway. It is worth thinking about the style you wish to achieve when selecting hair, as your end result can be heavily influenced by this aspect. Some hair types do not lend themselves well to certain styles.

Cutting & Styling - I cut the hair into a pompadour style, then combed it back and ran some wax through the dry hair. I then styled it by combing the under layers back towards the crown, and then combing the front upper layers in a diagonal fashion towards one side, and using my hand to 'bump' the front to give it that pompadour look. I fixed the style with hairspray.

Overall I am pleased with how this turned out.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Away From The Keyboard

I haven't posted for a while because I have been so busy! I am currently working on 3 projects and will post pictures when I get a chance. I have been ventilating until 2 a.m. some nights, although to be fair, I don't start until late morning.