My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Project: Upcycled Micro-Braid Wig in Black, Silver & Purple

I have rather dull and boring hair. It was a chin-length bob, and has grown out a bit. In my previous job I was assistant manageress of a store in the city centre, and had to look rather "normal" because I'd spend a lot of time on the shop floor. Then I got made redundant when the rent was upped on the building and the branch was closed. Since then, I've been looking for work and need to be able to revert to looking normal-ish for interviews (sometime soon I will post pictures of myself in work clothes to show how I try and strike a balance with not feeling like I'm in a "suit" costume and remaining businesslike) so I have kept my rather boring hair-cut. If I could get away with doing anything to my hair, I'd either have it in micro-braids like my favourite wig, or have the sides short with tribal patterns shaved into them, and the remaining central section in a death-hawk, all black. Sadly, I don't think either style would go down well in a job interview, so a boring bob it is.   My solution to not being able to dye my hair unnatural colours, braid it up, or get it cut into unusual styles is to wear wigs, and most of these wigs are ones I've made myself out of old halloween wigs and kanakalon hair. I can have different hair day of the week, and do so for far less than it would cost to get my hair re-styled each time! 

All my wigs are synthetic hair, and as such they come with their own set of care issues, some of which make me hiss because I know it would be easier to have some hair-styles done to my real hair than try and maintain fancy wigs. For curly hair I buy Cosplay/Lolita wigs, for other styles I make the wigs myself. This post is an explanation of how I made my favourite wig, hopefully detailed enough to follow if you want to replicate this project.

My favourite wig is my black, silver and purple micro-braid wig, and I made it myself. It's partly my favourite because of all the time and effort I put into making it, and that my partner put in helping me with braids! It started off as a black long "witch" Halloween wig, which looked absolutely awful, so working from the bottom upwards I braided every layer of hair into micro-braids. I took another cheap halloween wig and cut that into inch-long strips with hair attached along the seams of hair, braided up each lock and sewed it onto the cap of the first one, and then repeated the process with a black and silver wig, making a few braids that were blended silver and black. To blend, have the three chunks of hair you are using for the braid comprise of differing amounts of silver and black (or whatever other colours you are using). Having decided the wig needed more silver, I bought a silvery "wizard" wig, and cut and braided locks from that, also pairing up locks in black and silver to make more blended braids. The purple is in six braids on one side of my face, and those started off as a pair of clip-in hair streaks, which I braided up and sewed in. I used purple thread to sew on the black hair as it was black hair on black cap and the thread was pretty hard to see otherwise, and as the roots of each braid were hidden by the braids above them, the thread cannot be seen when the wig is worn anyway. 

Each Halloween wig was between £5 and £7 and the clip in strands were £1.50 each. I only used half of the hair on the silver wig, the rest I am saving to use with a second silver wig to make a silver micro-braid wig. This project is excellent for turning cheap, natty-looking Halloween wigs into something much nicer and more lasting instead of throwing them away after the parties are over. 

I made this wig quite a while ago, and as such do not have any in-process photographs as I had no craft blog, so I can't really depict how I made this one visually, only show photographs of the final product. 

Me in my home-made micro-braid wig.
Photo by Chance Photography
As the hair was synthetic, the braids were fixed by twisting the ends tight, and then gently passing them above a candle-flame (being careful not to burn my fingers or set the braids alight) until the plastic melted together. As there is a danger of igniting the hair (I did this to one of the first braids) be very careful not to lower the hair to close to the flame, or use another, less intense, source of heat. It does need to get quite hot though, in order to melt the plastic hair fibres. Really do be careful; I don't want someone to try this and either set their project on fire, burn themselves, or set their room on fire. Also, in case you do set a braid alight, have a bucket of water/sink to drop the braid in and also melt the ends before you sew them on to the whole wig so if there is an accident your whole project isn't ruined. It is possible to do this with hair-straighteners, or with anything else you can get hot and press the twisted ends with, but I don't recommend it because the fibres can melt on and that is a pain to get off again. Now that I have been wearing the wig for a while, some of the ends of the braids have gone a bit frizzy, but they have stayed fairly secure, and it would not be difficult to twist any that got loose once again and re-heat them.  Human hair and some synthetic fibre hair will not seal like this; only hair marked "do not use heat on this wig" will, as that is the synthetic hair that will melt if it hot, which is generally a bad thing, but not when sealing braids!

After the first wig got into a horrible frizzy mess, I learnt rather quickly to cut the wigs up into long strips along the seams of hair and store them in layers separated by paper. Combing through cheap wigs is a pain in the rear and a lot of the hair will pull loose. This hair is not wasted, neither is hair from the central top seam, which is difficult to pry apart. With the hair pulled from the wig in combing, tease it out into strands, and hang them by their centres over a hook until you've got a good thick lock, then twist the two halves together so there's a loop at the top, hook that loop over something that won't get ruined by heat, and then twist beneath the loop tightly and seal with heat. This will make a lock of hair with a loop at the top which can be braided and sealed like all the others and sewn on via the loop at the top. With the top seam, just cut the hair off and, being careful not to disrupt the locks too much, hang them over a hook like the hair from the frizz and twist and seal in the same way. I will have to draw a few diagrams for this process to explain. 

This is a very time-consuming project as each lock has to be cut, braided, sealed and sewn, and can be a bit messy if hair escapes. As the hair is synthetic, don't let your pets eat it or play with it in case they swallow some. My cat is a bit of a pest, so I had to keep him away from this project as I was making it. Braiding the locks is quite therapeutic, and if you don't want to keep a candle burning while you seal them, just clip the ends. If you want, you can thread beads onto the central strand of the three in braiding before you seal up the ends - I am going to do this on my next micro-braid wig (which will be silver) so look out for posts of that in the future. With that wig I will take lots of photographs of the process so you can see exactly how I make it.  The braids look quite good from the back and sides, but where the bottoms of the braids show at the forehead and top of the head, it is obviously a wig and looks a bit naff, so I always wear a bandana in order to hide it. A lot of people remark on my unusual hair, usually in a complimentary way, and most believe until told otherwise that I've had the braids done to my real hair and are quite surprised to hear that it's not real and that I made it myself. 

Whatever style wig you have, it is important to store wigs on a wig stand, and one the right height for the length of hair. Unlike loose hair, a braided wig will not tangle and frizz so much, but the braids still tangle amongst themselves, and the ends get frizzy faster if the wig is not stored properly. Keep an eye on any braids that have got caught and started working loose from the cap, and sew them back on carefully. Wash the finished wig by rinsing it under a warm, but not hot shower, and leaving it to dry by air on a stand. Don't use any shampoo designed for human hair. I haven't used any wig products on it as the style is braided and the products could get trapped in the braids and make the wig look dirty after a while. The main purpose of washing the wig is not to clean the hair, as unless your braids have trailed in something or been worn outdoors a lot they will not get that dirty, but to clean oils and dirt from your real hair and scalp off the cap and underside. 

I think this is my most successful wig project, and as such I will be making another similar one in silver, but with beads. I am currently making a neon green Harajuku inspired wig to wear with my cyber-goth outfits, and as I now have this blog, I'm taking photographs of the process. I also made the necklace in the photograph above, and will explain how I did that, too, and how I modified some welding goggles into cyber ones. 

2 comments:

  1. I love this! Would you mind sharing how it was made or are you selling it? Either way I am interested.

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    Replies
    1. The wig shown is not for sale. I tried to explain how I made it in the post itself; I know it's a big wall of text with no pictures of how I did, but I made the wig long before I started blogging and wasn't expecting so many people asking how I made it. I am still planning to make that silver wig, but it was put on hold as all my materials are in storage at my Dad's place.

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