Saturday, 29 December 2012

Let there be light!

My mum decided to buy me the combination lamp mentioned in this -http://makingwigs.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/winter-lighting.html - post! I am so excited. It has REVOLUTIONISED my wig making. I kid you not!

Suddenly I have more speed. I also am not getting major 'eye blur' (loss of eye focus) when I look up from working on my wig. I can even see the TV after looking down last my wig work for a while... without having to wear my glasses. This is encouraging as it surely means I am not straining my eyes.

I have noticed it is very helpful to be able to see the knots and lace with such clarity. I think that it is even improving my actual knot tension/tightness, as I can see what I am doing properly.

Who knew that something so simple could make such a difference?

I shall post update pics on my next blog entry.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Wig Grips - part two: A Review

I originally decided to buy the Milano WiGrip; however, I ended up buying The Hair Grip as this was the wig grip that my friend tried.

Product: The Hair Grip
Website: http://www.thehairgrip.com/Home.html
Colour: Dark Brown (black is available and nude will apparently be available soon too)
Price: $20 for one, with discounts for American Cancer Society Patients and those buying 3.

Buying from Abroad - the shipping was incredibly reasonable and speedy. As someone from the UK who buys from the US a lot, I was really impressed by the shipping costs for this item.

Packaging and Information - the product was well packaged, and included an information leaflet on how to use/wear the Grip and how to care for it. The website is well designed and informative with a couple of video tutorials.



Construction/Quality - The Hair Grip appeared well made and looked smart (not that anyone sees it!).

This product is designed to be worn with head covers or wigs.

Use with Wigs - I found the Grip gives a reasonable amount of security when wearing it under a sheitel (regular style, closed wefted wig with a silk top and no lace front). Its main function is to prevent the wig from slipping. Initially I found it worked very well for stopping the wig from slipping backwards as I moved about, or from moving when I bent down or forwards. It is a pleasant feeling to feel that your wig is pretty 'rock solid' and I was confident that if my wig had been pulled on by accidentally getting caught on something or by a child tugging at it, it would not have budged.

The problem I am finding is that with time and wear the grip seem to be provding less adehsion/friction. I am going to wash it and see if the pile of the material (which is the part that is actually providing the friction to stop the wig slipping) fluffs up and grips better again. I will update on this after I have washed and worn it.

Unfortunately, due to the design, this type of grip is unable to address the sideburns/ear area 'flap' that many women who wear wigs struggle with, so it will not stop your wig from flapping around at the sides! The Grip is also unsuitable for wearing with a wig that has a mono or lace top or part line (i.e. a top/part line that shows through to your own scalp/hair) as there would be nothing to conceal the appearance of the Grip showing through the wig foundation (base). This is a shame, as I can imagine a lot of women would love to be able to wear this type of accessory with their lace front and full lace wigs while doing minimal or no bonding (and perhaps using some bobby pins to keep the sides held down). It would work for a lace front or full lace wig that has a silk top, and it would work for the cheaper lace fronts that have only a small inch or two of lace before the wefted top starts, as well as for the cheaper plastic skin top type synthetics.

The Grip itself is fairly comfortable, as the material is very soft. Potential issues with wearability and comfort stem from the fact that the Grip can be a little itchy (as can wigs), a bit hot, and a little bulky. The design is such that you have two open ends on the band at the back of your head and these ends have large velcro areas stitched to them. This enables you to adjust and close the band at the optimal point for your individual head size. Where the two ends overlap is quite bulky, and depending on where you place this between your occipital bone and your nape, it may or may not poke the back of your wig out a little. You also have to be careful not to tighten the Grip too much when putting it on, as this can cause headaches (both myself and my friend found this). The Grip needs to be firmly fastened so that it does not slip back on your head (and ping off!), but not too tight so as to cause discomfort.

As such, I have found that The Hair Grip requires a little practice to get right. You have to work out where is the best position for you to place it so that your wig holds on, the Grip does not move and you do not have a bump. There is a related issue at the front - in my case, if I place the Grip too far forwards, I raise the profile of my wig too high so that the front edge of it is not flush to my scalp. I am unsure if this is a problem for me because of my head shape and whether other women would not experience this issue. I tend to place my Grip a little further back than I would have thought would be correct. I do find that it still raises the profile a little, but it is definitely not as bad. I think this issue is compounded by the fact that I still have the wire zig-zag comb at the front centre that the sheitel came with. Although I do not use this comb, I have yet to remove it. I believe that because the comb is stiffish (as it is metal), this may be preventing the wig from laying as flat as possible and flush to my scalp. Again, I shall report back once I have removed that comb and see if it is any better.

I am slightly concerned that the Grip is stretching over time. I think that this is inevitable with the material it is made from. As it is not too expensive, I think I will be budgeting to buy 1 every 6 months.

Use with Head Covers - I have found the Grip is excellent when used with slippery scarves such as satin and silk material. It not only helps when wearing them, but also when tying them as it provides enough friction to stop them from slipping. I would not wear a silk or satin scarf without the Grip now as it is that good for this purpose.

Overall:

I definitely think it is worth getting one to try and see how you find it. For me, it has become a good accessory for wearing with wigs. I wouldn't say it is perfect and has resolved all my problems with wig security, but it is good enough that I feel more confidence when wearing my wig out and especially around children. I am not sure how well I will manage in the summer, as the Grip and my wig sounds like a pretty boiling hot combination; however, for Autumn (Fall) through Spring, I can see it being used every time I wear my wig. I give it 4/5 for wearing with wigs.

When it comes to head covers, I feel the Grip really comes into its own. For those women with alopecia who do not like wearing head covers, especially scarves, because they feel that the material sits too close to their scalp and thus shows that they are bald underneath, the Grip is a good choice. It helps to add a little bulk there, as well as giving an unparalleled feeling of security to traditionally slippery materials such as satin and silk. I give it 5/5 for wearing with head covers.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Wig Grips - part one...

Today I want to talk about something partially related to wig making, but perhaps of more interest to the wig wearer. As I am both a maker and a wearer, matters relating to both are relevant to me.

Wig grips.

I find it amusing how the latest new thing (or fad), just springs onto the market and within a short time everyone is talking about it. It happened with full lace wigs, then with silk tops, and I have later watched as the wig grip emerged and this process also happened.

I might be wrong, but I get the impression that the Jewish sheitel (wig) company Milano were the original company to produce a wig grip. Theirs is called the WiGrip. Now more and more wig companies seem to be bringing out their own versions under different names and selling them as an accessory. Essentially they all seem to be exactly the same design:

Some form of velour (a bit like panne velour) in a headband shape that is doubled - 2 - layers (so that the pile of the velour is on both the top and underside of the headband), and the band is closed with adjustable velcro ends. It is seamed on both sides with an overlocker, and quilted across the middle to keep the two layers tightly bound together.

The idea behind this is to facilitate the easier, securer and more comfortable wearing of wigs. The fabric's pile on one side creates a degree of friction between itself and the inside of the wig base, at the same time as creating friction between your hair or scalp and the band. Thus preventing the wig from moving around and providing the 'grip'.

I saw a couple of alopecia ladies wearing them. Then my best female friend got one and I knew I had to try it. When I got my new wig, it seemed like a perfect time to try one myself. In my second post on this theme, I will write a review debating the pros, cons and effectiveness of this accessory.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Wiggy

It's really odd, but recently I have noticed a lot of women whose natural hair looks like a wig! I always find this mildly comforting. I am a harsh critic of my own hair choices, because I would rather not walk around looking like an extra from Hairspray. However, while I am focused on a less is more ideal, it strikes me as rather ironic that many women seem to be adopting quite the opposite.

I have seen -
  • Super dense natural hair that was puffily blown out giving a wig rooty/sheitel look
  • Super dense, and very long extensions 'look' that seemed like a heavy FLW
  • Extremely teased/back combed roots giving a permatease appearance
  • The full, full, full fringed Bob - that just reminds me of my attempts to disguise a wig rim (and many of my fellows alopecia buds do this in regular wigs and toppers - not out of choice!)

I guess it is interesting to see people un-selfconsciously choosing these styles, whereas people with hair loss tend to think of themselves as being forced into these styles that we would not otherwise choose. 








Monday, 19 November 2012

Winter - lighting

Winter brings its own challenge: lighting.

I tend to do my work later in the day, so having an adequate light source is important. I used to sit under a large standing lamp, with a bright bulb.



However, my regular seat has changed and I am finding myself in the dark. Dark hair and a dark corner is a bad mixture.

I've been researching hobby lamps, daylight lamps and other lighting. I think a nice, bright, natural type light would suit me. I have a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) box lamp, and a craft desk based magnifying lamp. Both have as 'daylight' type bulb, and I like this as it is bright, white light.

Ideally a floor standing lamp would work well. I don't always have somewhere to clamp to, so if it is freestanding, that should be okay.

These lamps are expensive. I have been loathe to buy one due to the cost, and not really knowing which one to get. In the UK they range from approximately £50 to £140.

This option, on the other hand, is interesting as it incorporates various features - floor or clamp, and magnification.



http://www.amazon.co.uk/PURElite-3-1-Magnifying-Lamp/dp/B003UUCI8E

It gets good reviews and seems reasonably priced.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

The things I hate about wigs...

Thought I would think about, and note down, the things I have disliked about past wigs, or even about other people's wigs (*gasp*).

  1. Too much hair/too dense.
  2. Forward ventilation on the vertex - it always falls in your eyes and is not how normal hair grows in general.
  3. The hair being the same length on the ear tab lower edge as the rest of the 'head' - no one's 'sideburns' are like this.
  4. The nape hair being really dense - it feels strange against the neck.
  5. The drawn through parting/silk top that is also forward ventilated - it never seems to part easily and you cannot force that hair against 'the grain'.
  6. 'Silk' tops that are not silk and are shiny and griddy.
  7. Split ends and hair that splits after cutting AKA processed hair that comes from goodness knows where.
  8. Open wefts.
  9. Massive ear tabs and lots of hair from temple to ear tab - you can never tuck all that behind your ear.
  10. Wigs that feel like a hat - most wigs feel like this to me... Only hand tied ones feel light and non-hat-like.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Update Pics

Okay, so these pics are not the best! I shall get some with my proper camera when I have finished the mid-section, and in daylight too. You'll get the gist though...







Monday, 5 November 2012

Hiatus

Hi to anyone who has been following my journey...

I am still around!

Quietly and in the background. For those people who used to watch my YouTube channel, I decided to give that a break... not saying I won't do videos again, but I have shifted my focus from working directly with people with alopecia towards looking after myself and my own interests. For a long time, I have put all my effort into helping other people who needed alopecia, wig, hair piece and coping advice, but it got to the point where I just needed to shift that focus. I no longer run a community or make major contributions to any alopecia sites and I also closed the Donation Service that I was running.

The good news it that by making these changes, I now have time and a little energy to do other things.

I am still making minor contributions to the alopecia and hair loss community - I continue to do advocacy work with the general public; I will always try to answer any questions that people email me; and I sometimes contribute to forums if I feel I have a comment worth making, but these activities are not my main raison d'ĂȘtre.

My challenge now is to update this blog with some pictures of where I am at... and I will do this shortly.

I continue to pursue my wig making. Yes, it has not gone as fast as I hoped... but I am getting there slowly. I feel I have learnt so much from this process and to be honest, when I look back at my first posts on this blog, I can truly see that progress. I think that when you are a craftsman or an artist... or trying to become a skilled at something... learning the skills and being creative naturally evolves over time and sometimes this intuitive learning process cannot be rushed. I can see things I did at the beginning of making the wig I am working on, that I now know I could have done better or differently. I have more confidence in my own abilities... so I won't give up... I just keep plodding on. I already have a lot of ideas for other wig making projects I want to work on in the future, so keep your eyes peeled!


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

New Pictures

I wanted to show my progress...


To...






I have realised a couple of things about this wig construction:

1. It would have been better if I had made the lace deeper and placed the monofilament galloon back further - this would help me to disguise the galloon easier. It would also mean I could start the crown further back on the head than I will be doing on this wig.

2. Having the extended nape adds more hair to the bulk density when you look at the wig. In future I would not opt to do this again unless I absolutely wanted to wear my hair up for a certain style/event.

3. Ventilating long hair takes a longer time than ventilating short hair due to pulling the hairs through the knot.

Monday, 14 May 2012

How to get started in Wig Making (and an update)

I had a comment to my last post by Biodagar asking:
I'm super keen to learn wig-making, but I don't know that I'd have the patience for it. :) Do you mind if I ask what the first resources you were looking at when you started? I wouldn't even know where to begin :)
I totally know how hard and daunting it can be to get started with this process. I think it took me about 6 months to get properly started. I did a lot of research on the products/items needed and on cap construction. I think that to make wigs for yourself, you have to have an understanding of what you want/need and to look at wigs you already have so you can start to understand about the way that wigs are constructed. Even with full lace wigs, there are a lot of variations in bases. If you have a wig design that you really like, you can always attempt to copy its construction. Here's my suggestions for the 'short-cut' way of getting started:

First off...
  • Have a look at the posts I made when I started the blog:
http://makingwigs.blogspot.co.uk/2011_05_01_archive.html - the 2nd post shows you basics needed to get started
http:// makingwigs.blogspot.co.uk/2011_06_01_archive.html. - you will get a general idea of what you need to start to do
The first thing you need to do is learn to ventilate - there is a simple video showing how to do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWqGTzj3y14&feature=related. For this process, you need to buy some lace (or you can use tulle from a sewing/craft store when you are just practicing), some hair (cheap wefted processed hair will do), a ventilating needle and a holder. You will also need at least a styrofoam head or preferably a canvas wig block. Once you have learnt to ventilate, you can start learning to make a foundation (wig cap/base).

To make the wig foundation/base - you will have to do research into cap styles. Look at any wig books you can get your hands on. Look at the bases offered by Chinese wig making factories (they usually have lots of pictures showing what's available for custom orders). Have a look at what other people are making on You Tube and blogs like mine. If you already have some wigs, turn them inside out and study the bases. You may wish to take old wigs apart to learn how they are made and perhaps reuse some of the materials and/or hair while you are learning.

An important part of making a wig foundation/base is sewing. If you have no sewing skills, then now is the time to learn them. My first 2 caps (the prototype and the one I am currently ventilating onto) were totally hand sewn. You can find more information on hand sewing wig foundations in the book I recommended above. While hand sewing takes a long time, it is also very satisfying, a traditional way of making a wig foundation and if you are a perfectionist like me: very neat! In the future I will be experiementing with using a sewing maching for all or part of the wig foundation. Even if you choose to use a sewing machine, you still need to know how to use that, so if you have zero sewing experience I recommend having a look in some books and on You Tube again and learning a bit about stitches and methods of sewing.

I hope this was helpful.

Update:

It has been just over a year since I started this blog - amazing how time flies. For the reply above, I was looking back at old posts and I can see how far I have come in that time. I am really proud that I have done this all by myself. Where there is a will, there's a way. I must give credit to the few mentors that I have consulted during this time - particularly to one person from Greece... you will know who you are. I appreciate the advice and answers to my questions that have been given and I hope that as I improve I am able to help other people in the same way. Pooling our knowledge and resources is definitely helpful.

Having seen my pictures from the last update, I realised how far I have come in the ventilation. I have done loads since then. A couple of weekends ago, I made myself a little timesheet to fill in with my wig making hours. I hoped this would encourage me to get more done. It worked. I did 13 hours last week. I shall take some pictures and post them so those of you who are interested can have a look.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Update Pictures

Finally I have time to do this and post. Things in my life have been very busy and somewhat difficult/challenging, so I don't really have much time to do my usual work. Anyway, I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to get an hour of ventilation done 5 days a week. I have really gotten back into the swing of things. I want to get this thing finished! It feels as if it is never ending - having a big head and making an extended nape doesn't help for sure.

Here's the wig:



And the hair...


As I have said before, the hair is not the best. It's really bad hair in my opinion; highly processed and loads of different hair textures (some are horrible and I try to throw before ventilating if I see them). However, it is serving it's purpose of giving me something non-precious to ventilate with for practicing. The hair type is 'pouffy' in that it looks more than it is. When I braid the hair that I have already ventilated, it's not as thick as you would imagine from looking at it hanging down like that.

Moving forward...

I am going to continue ventilating as I am already doing and then when I have ventilated over the the top galloon, where the honeycomb tulle finishes, I will then start ventilating 1 hair per hole.

There is one patch at the bottom right hand where there is not enough hair ventilated and when I have finished doing the current section, I will go back and add some more to that before I move onto doing the vertex and sides.

I also need to buy some metal springs as I don't like the plastic ones I have and I want to add some to make ear tabs.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

I'm Back

Sorry for the silence. Things have been really busy at home and I haven't been overly well for a while.

Anyway, I have been doing some wig making, but not much. I did finish the challenge and got up to my markers. I am now moving beyond that. I will take some update photos and post them to show y'all.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

My Challenge

Following on my last blog post, I have set myself the challenge.

I want to get to the markers (see photo below) by this time next week - so Thursday 23rd. It should be a little challenging as I have quite a lot of things on over the next week. However, I shall give it a go and report back.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Mini Challenge & Eventual Wig Cutting and Styling

I did some ventilation today in the comfort AND WARMTH of our office/studio room. It's far warmer in there than in the house right now (don't even ask!). We are still getting snow. Brrrr.

So I was looking at my wig block... and I keep moving a small pin up the back of the head and aiming for it, but it's like moving the goalpost... so I never quite get there! A while ago, I set myself the challenge of doing x amount of ventilation by a certain date. I can't even remember if I succeeded.

Anyway, on to my point. So I have decided that tomorrow I am going to go in the studio and create a new sparkly marker with a heart shaped pin (more visible that way) and set myself a target of ventilating to that pin by a certain date. I shall document it on here with some pictures... I like to challenge myself and motivate myself... no one else is going to!

I also think it is really important to set yourself targets with the wig making, otherwise it is easy to stop or to get bogged down and progress becomes really slow. I want to get this finished so I can move onto the next project! I have lots of wigs and hair pieces I eventually want to make.

My second topic of the day is: cutting and styling...

As I have a type of alopecia that results in partial hair loss, and I am not currently shaving my head, I still need to get my own hair cut/styled so that when I am around the house, I don't look a complete fright! I have a really nice stylist who does this for me; she runs her own salon. I have been talking to her about my wig making and she has agreed to cut the wig for me when I finish it. I think it will be a good experience for her and for me. If the wig doesn't fit me properly, I will get her to cut it on the block, otherwise I will get it cut on my head.

Have a great weekend y'all.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow... & Wig Making

Overnight we had 6 inches of snow. Mmm... leading to pics like this...

Don't worry, I picked the snow balls off her and dried her by the fire and she's back to normal now!


So days like this...



Are great for doing this...



I am getting there... slowly, but surely!

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Wooden Wig Cradle & An Alternative! Plus, needle safety...

A few posts ago, when I was talking about ventilating position, I mentioned the wig cradle. It is made from wood and looks like this:

For those of you who are interested, it can be purchased from the wig making supplier, Banbury Postiche: http://www.banburypostiche.co.uk/shop/home/C-264.aspx
They are located in the UK and do ship abroad, although you may need to email them for a shipping quote due to the bulkiness of the item.

For those of you who do not want to purchase one or, as in my case, do not have the funds to spend on one (I need to save the money for other things!), I have come up with a pseudo wig cradle idea....

I use a stiff cardboard box! I have two of differing sizes; both of which were originally packaging boxes for items I had bought from stores. They are stiff sided (corrugated cardboard perhaps?), which helps to keep the wig block stable and the box rigid.

Block face down - so I can work the back and crown



Block standing up - suitable for working on a hard surface like a desk or table when ventilating the top/vertex


Block on the side - so I can ventilate at this angle


I also have another box like this that is a little narrower. Of course, if I wanted to, I could cut the V shapes into the ends, but I find that the block rests okay in the box as it is and does not move around. I then use the box on my lap (sometimes raising the height if necessary by putting a cushion under it). I don't always use it, but I found it particularly helpful for ventilating the first few inches of the nape. It is also useful to safely store your ventilating needle, comb and scissors should you be called away from your work (e.g. if the phone rings). On that note...

Ventilating needles are quite dangerous as they have a catchy hook in them, which is designed to catch the hair in so that you can knot it. Unlike a crochet hook, which has a rounded end to the catchy part of the hook, a ventilating needle is quite sharp. It can catch soft furnishings, clothes and skin. I am always really conscious of this around pets and small children. One aspect I had not thought about at first was how dangerous this needle/hook can be around eyes! It would be lethal if the needle got stuck in someone's eye as removing the catchy part of it (which gets stuck in things) would cause untold damage. For that reason I urge anyone reading this who is thinking of ventilating or already ventilates wigs to please be very careful with the needles. Wearing glasses is a good way of protecting your own eyes, but remember the eyes of pets and children and other people around you.




Sunday, 29 January 2012

Progress in Pictures

Last time I posted, I was at this stage:



Here is my latest update on wig making progress...







I am continuing to keep the density light and will progress to light-medium by the time I am an inch or two below the crown. I am pleased thus far! P.S. I just realised I did not take the picture of the "alternative wig cradle" as I had promised to do in my last post... so I will definitely go do that and will add it tomorrow.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dark Hair Contrasting Against Wig Block - Thoughts...

I watch Jamesgirl37 on YouTube, if you haven't seen her channel, then check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesgirl37

Anyway, she was talking about using white paper or tissue (or something white) on the block to get a better contrast between dark hair, lace and the block when ventilating. Everyone has always seemed to favour using blue tape. I do find blue tape quite good - especially useful for creating patterns, markings and instructions on the block, which you can remove easily once you are done (as you peel the tape off and just reapply some new to re-cover it). So Jamesgirl's got me thinking about whether I will try using something else... I have cream masking tape, which I could try. I have used paper before, but I find it does not work well for a wig - it's fine for toppers, closures or just practising in small areas. I do sometimes find it hard to see the knots, but I think this is more related to when I have insufficient light. As soon as I aim a bright beam of light onto my work, my eyes seem to see a lot clearer. Anyway, if I do experiement, I will be sure to document it.

Later today, I shall take a picture of an alternative wig cradle solution - to save money - that I have been using and will post that next time I write here.

Monday, 16 January 2012

A Quick Update

I have to admit to having had a few rest days recently. For a while there, I was going for gold and doing some work each day on the ventilation. However, I caught some 'bug' or fluey cold thing and eventually had to just take a proper time out to recuperate.

The good news is that I am slowly on the mend. Unfortunately - due to medical reasons - I tend to take a while longer to shake viruses off than the average person. So finally today, I picked my needle up again and indulged in a little knotting action.

I am hoping tomorrow to get down to it properly and put a few hours of hard work into it. I shall take another set of updated pics because I will have progressed to working on the honeycomb tulle - by itself - section and will be figuring out density.

During my down-time, I have continued to experiment with styling techniques. I did a whole tutorial on Wigs and Head Covers on how to do pin curls on a wig. I acutally used the section of hair I have added on the wig I am making as my demo wig hair - it was useful as not too much hair to lose clarity for close up pictures of what I was doing. So I had a go at doing them on a shorter wig. I realised that I prefer the effect on longer wigs - so hair that is approximately 12 inches or longer. I don't really like the way they come out on shorter wigs as you don't get enough 'repeat' of the curl or wave.

Here's a few pics of my experiments with shorter hair...

I prefer the end result on longer hair - this was showing half a section done, and I had only left it for about 2 hours to set (normally I would leave it overnight):
The good thing about pin curls is that I don't need to use any heat to do them. For me, learning to style wigs is equally as interesting as learning to make them. I am very much a person who enjoys working with hair - no matter what... so I guess I will be doing more of these experiments in the future!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Video Update

For anyone who does not find this blog from my YouTube channel, here's my latest video:


Monday, 9 January 2012

Working Position - Ventilating Position

I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the importance of having a good working position or ventilating position. I touched very briefly on this issue a while ago in this blog, but I have done enough of my own work now to be able to comment more in depth on it.

Obviously wig making is a time consuming activity to engage in and because of the nature of the beast you can find yourself sat for incredibly long periods looking at something in very minute detail. This type of work can have quite a negative impact on your body if you are not careful and mindful. There are several things to think about:

1. The position you sit in
2. Your eyes
3. Breaks

The position you sit in to work - I have tried quite a number of positions now, ranging from the obvious one of sitting at a surface such as a table, workbench or desk through to the less obvious of sitting in a squishy armchair with lots cushions and a beanbag to rest my legs on! I also have ventilated in bed, on my bed, sitting on a couch and probably some others I cannot even remember.

One thing I have noticed is that it depends on what type of work I am doing as to which position is more suitable and comfortable. For me, hand sewing tends to work quite well with the block on a clamp at a table/desk/bench or with the block in my lap while I am sitting on the couch or in an armchair with my feet on the ground.

When ventilating, I need to be able to change the position and height of the block more easily and it varies quite markedly as to what angle/height I need the wig block to be at, depending on which area I am working on. For example, if I am working on the right side of the foundation, I like to swivel the block so that this side is primary to me rather than twisting myself to reach it/look at it. In addition, ventilating for long stretches is definitely more comfortable, for me personally, if I am sitting in a comfy seat rather than at a table/desk/bench. So I have been finding it more comfortable to sit with my legs supported by something so I can have them higher up (not on the ground), either resting on a large beanbag or a footstool. That way I can have them bent or crossed and prop the wig block up on them. I have also been using a cushion on my legs and then putting the block on that (the cushion is like the scatter type you use on a couch and is feather, so it moulds to the block shape if I press down on it a little bit and stops it from rolling side to side or away from me).

Side note -  I know I am not the only person who ventilates in a position where their legs are raised (if they are not using a clamp or stand). I once watched a video of a theatrical wig maker who worked by sitting on a high stool with her legs propped up on a high level work surface/bench! The block was placed in her lap. She spent hours ventilating like that - so I guess what works for you really does depends on your body and any physical issues you need to overcome/compensate for (e.g. if you already have a back or neck problem to bear in mind).

If I want to ventilate on my bed, I usually sit cross legged and then rest the block on my legs, again using a cushion to raise the height of the block. I put lots of pillows behind me to support my back and shoulders. You can get a wig cradle to put your wig block in, as this helps to stabilise the block when working with it in a horizontal position. It functions regardless of whether you are working at a table or with the cradle resting on your lap. It looks like this:


Available from Banbury Postiche.

If you are working at a desk/table/bench you may want to get an adjustable chair that allows you to adjust the angle of the backrest and seat, as well as the height of the seat to an appropriate level. Office chairs are good for this purpose. If you don't have one or can't afford one and find you are sitting too low, then use some cushions or seat pads to raise the height of your chair seat. If your work surface (and thus the wig) is too low, then raise the level of the block by using an adjustable clamp or put something large (phone directories, old shoe boxes filled with books) under the block/cradle to raise the height of the block so that it is nearer your eyes/hands. 

To sum up...

- Vary the position you sit in as this can help prevent muscle ache 

- Use props, if necessary, to support your body - e.g. cushions under arms or against your back or under your bottom (!) to raise you to the right height when working at a hard surface or a footstool or beanbag to support your feet/legs

- Ensure your block is at the correct angle so as to prevent neck strain/pain and shoulder tension


Your Eyes - Lighting is important because it can make so much difference to how well you are seeing the area you are working on. I have even thought I was seeing quite well until I turned extra lighting on and then realised that I was actually straining a little bit to see clearly. This is especially a factor if working during the winter or in the evening/at night. You can get specialist daylight lamps and magnifyer lamps that are free standing on a table top, clamp to a surface or are free standing on the floor. If you can't afford one, using a desk lamp to spotlight the area you are working on can be helpful. I sometimes use one like this:


Glasses are another factor - I do think it is worth getting your eyes checked if you have not recently had an eye exam and mentioning the close work you are doing or will be doing. I wear glasses for mild short sightedness and astigmatism. I have noticed that when I am doing any close work (not just wig making, but crafting etc.), if I look up after focusing on an item close-up, I cannot focus properly for distance vision. If I wear my glasses, I don't have this problem, so to avoid eye strain and complete blurriness when I look up, I have been wearing them for wig making.

Use a contrasting backgroung colour to help your eyes see the difference between hair and lace/foundation material. Bright blue paper or blue painters tape helps to create contrast between the lace and hair. This can be very important if you are using less 'visible' hair. For example, I am currently using dark hair against a pale/translucent lace, which is fine if the lighting is good as the dark against light is fairly obvious. However, when doing repair work for someone else, I was working with blonde hair on a translucent lace. The base colour of my block is a kind of of taupey grey and is not very useful for helping anything (dark or light) to show up. In this instance (when working with lighter hair) I would definitely use some kind of brighter colour behind it - the blue works well and is favoured by wig makers. You can cover the block (or styrofoam head if you are using one of those) with it fairly easily or, if you are in a pinch and have some bright blue paper, you can use that by pinning a small section of it to the block or head under the area you are working on. I have used both and they work equally well visually. Although in the long term, the tape works better as you can cover the whole area you will be working on. If you use the paper, it's not practical to cover the whole area as you will find you have pins holding the paper down which get in the way of your work and could potentially snag your foundation.

To sum up...

- Ensure adequate, bright lighting is illuminating the area you are working on
Create constrast between the hair and lace if necessary
- Wear glasses, if needed, and/or use a magnifyer to prevent eye strain

- Make sure to keep your work close enough that you can see it well - use a cushion, wig cradle, clamp or stand to get the block at the correct distance


Breaks - it is easy to get sucked into the wig making vortex and end up ventilating for hours with no break. It is a good idea to change positions every so often - get up and walk around for a few minutes, have a drink, look at something in the distance (good for your eyes to focus on far away if you have been focusing on close-up work for a while - according to my optician)... stretch! Give your hands a wiggle - they can get a bit stiff (in my case) and sore from holding the hair under a certain amount of pressure and from holding the needle holder. If you struggle to remember to take a break, set a timer to go off periodically.

Wig making should be fun! As it takes quite a long time to make a wig from scratch (especially if you are a beginner and learning how to make the foundation and to get into a ventilating rhythm), it is worthwhile taking a little time to figure out a good position so that you can enjoy many happy, flexible and pain-free hours of wig making!


Saturday, 7 January 2012

New Pictures... Finished the Nape

Here's some pictures to update the blog - I have finished the extened nape. I will perhaps add more hair to the edge (where the galloon is - to conceal it more effectively) and at the end of making the wig, I will ventilate a couple of rows to the inside to help conceal the edges. Sorry they are not the best quality - I shot them with my phone and the lighting was not the best! I think you can get a better idea of density from these versus the braided shots of the post before. There's not as much hair as one might think!








I am now working on the mid-section where I have the wide galloon. In this area, I have lace overlapping tulle, so it's quite hard work ventilating it. The lace holes are on top and small, so I am ventilating into that rather than aiming for the tulle. I hope to finish this section in the next couple of days and then move onto ventilating into the tulle by itself.


Lastly, and for fun, I set the hair I have ventilated into pin curls - they came out well. After I defined some of the frizzier ones a little better:



Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ventilating - Step 1 ~ The Extended Nape

The past couple of weeks have seen me finally getting time to set to and start ventilating. It's great - I really enjoy it and I find it very relaxing. However, let's be frank for a moment... Boy oh boy does it take a long time! I know I am not 'up to speed' yet; I can feel each time I pick up that needle holder, that I am getting into the process and the rhythm quicker than the time before, which is progress.

As one would normally ventilate a wig from the nape upwards, I have been focusing on the extended nape to begin with. Admittedly, it will take me longer to ventilate this wig than if I were making one without an extended nape, as that extension is a good deal more hair to add than if it were not there. This is compounded by the fact that the lace I used in that area is very fine (lots of tiny holes). It would be easy to add way too much hair there! As I do not want to end up looking like Cousin Itt: http://tinyurl.com/7qw6j6o, I decided to go light on the ventilation. I would say the first inch is probably what most people would term light density and the rest is very light. I am realising that I truly am a less is more hair wearer. The pictures I am showing are from a little while ago, as I have actually now finished this section (and will post more up-to-date pics shortly). So what you see is the more densely ventilated area at the bottom, starting to lighten out towards where the honeycomb lace starts.






I have plaited/braided the hair to keep it out of the way while working. At this stage it seems easier to plait/braid it, than to try and use clips, which get in the way as I have not worked a large section. When I take the next round of pictures, I will be sure to photograph the hair loose, so you can get an idea of the amount that has been used.

To be honest, I do think that at this stage there is a real art to getting density right. It is hard to judge! I have been trying to think about my own hair and how that looked before I had any hair loss. The hair I am using is not good hair - it is processed and a mixture of strands, it is naturally wavy and I know it would be really easy to put too much in, as my own hair strands have always been finer than this. So... with that in mind, I am trying to achieve coverage (of the foundation) without over-dense ventilation. I keep reminding myself that this whole process is me learning and mistakes are allowable.

A tip - if you are ventilating a lot, find a movie or some music (or something!) that you can listen to. I really think it helps to keep a rhythmn and to just get into the zone. I have been ventilating to DVDs, the radio, tv shows. I even ventilated to all 3 Lord of the Rings movies - strangely inspiring and motivating seeing as so many of the characters on there are wearing lace front or full lace wigs!