Monday, December 3, 2018

Mama's Hair

When purchased in July of this year, as I wrote in my blog post that includes Barbie Fashionista 82, "I have plans for Fashionista 82 as soon as time permits."

After my mother was placed on an antiarrhythmic medication in June of this year, she began experiencing extreme hair loss.  Each time she combed her hair, wads of it would be in the comb.  The first time it occurred, she was in the hospital and asked me to throw the hair away.  I told her I wanted to keep it and explained why.  After that hospital stay, she remained on the medication until a follow-up visit with her cardiologist took place.  He instructed her to discontinue the medication as hair loss was one of the side effects of amiodarone.

After discontinuing amiodarone, the hair loss continued but was not as marked as it was during the time she was taking the medication.  I continued saving the hair and had enough to fill a sandwich-size Ziploc bag before the hair loss eventually subsided.

Mama's saved hair

Due to recent life changes, I have more free time on my hands and am able to complete doll-related things that have been on my to-do list.  One of these things was to make a wig for Fashionista 82 using my mother's hair.  Because I like the doll's buzz cut platinum blonde hairstyle, I opted to make a removable wig to allow her to return to the original hairstyle, if desired.

Things Used

In addition to the doll, to make the wig I used:

  • Rubber bands
  • A piece of white fabric (tan would have been better to blend in with the ash blonde color of Mama's hair, but white fabric is what I had on hand).
  • Plastic wrap
  • Aleene's Tacky Glue
  • Hair
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

Making the Wig Cap
Enough fabric to cover the doll's entire head, neck, and breast area was cut.  

Not shown, plastic wrap was wrapped around the doll's entire face, head and upper torso to protect these areas from glue.  The plastic wrap was held in place with a rubber band around the doll's neck.

The fabric was placed snugly over the plastic wrap and held in place with a rubber band around the neck.  The wrinkles in the fabric were smoothed out as much as possible, particularly in the area that would create the wig cap.  Using a pencil, the outline of the area that would be the wig cap was drawn.

Aleene's Tacky Glue was applied to the area inside the pencil tracing which would be the wig cap.  Several layers of glue were applied by smoothing each onto the wig cap area with my index finger.  Each layer of glue was allowed to dry before applying the next.

The glue was allowed to harden for over 24 hours.

The cured wig cap was removed and the excess fabric cut away as illustrated in the next four pictures.

I trimmed off even more of the wig cap than what is illustrated in these photos.  The nape of the neck could have been trimmed more.
Applying the Hair

Beginning from the nape of the neck up, the hair was applied in rows.  In the above photo, one row of hair was added.  Two additional rows were required to cover the back of the head.

In this photo, the hair on the back of the head has been glued on and the head wrapped with plastic wrap to hold the hair in place.

Profile view of the applied hair and plastic-wrapped head illustrates the bare crown and sides of the wig cap.  The plastic wrap was left on for only about 30 minutes.  It was removed to allow the glue to fully dry before additional hair was applied.

Two wads of hair were overlapped for the crown and side hair.  The overlapping gives the illusion of a part.

One side of the crown hair is applied.

Both sides of the crown hair are applied.

View from the back with all hair applied

Plastic wrap was again applied to hold the crown and side hairs in place.  Rubber bands were placed around the ends hoping these would crimp the loose ends.

For the edge of the wig cap to blend with the color of the hair, it was painted tan.  The inside of the wig cap was also painted, but that was not necessary.
Trimming and Modeling the Wig

All stray hairs were trimmed and 82 or Bea, named after my mother, modeled the wig.

Full-length view of Bea dressed in her original fashion and wearing her wig

Some of the length was trimmed after this photo was taken.

Bea is redressed in a Sparkle Girlz fashion worn with Barbie black wedge heels.

Close-up from the front

The hair looks a little matted because, well, it is.  I was working with wads of hair that had been enclosed for months in a Ziploc bag.  There was no way for me to separate the wads without having several small pieces of hair.   The texture of the hair would have worked better for an Afro or another fuller natural hairstyle, but it is what it is.  I have achieved my goal of using Mama's hair on a doll.  I do have some hair left but probably not enough to create another wig unless I ask her to resume saving the few strands of hair she loses when she combs her hair now.
One More Redress

Because it is the Christmas season, I decided to dress Bea in this Mikelman Christmas gown and make jewelry using pieces cut from a rhinestone necklace.

Close-up of Bea's jewelry which consists of a choker and drop earrings
In the two photos above, the wig is placed on Bea's head so that the side part is more visible.  The ends of the hair in the back are swept a bit to one side.

The Mikelman fashion works well with Bea's original platinum blonde hair as illustrated next.

With or without the wig, Bea looks fabulous in this Christmas dress, as fabulous as my mother always looks when she dresses for church or other special occasions.

Mama's Hair Throughout the Years

This photo was taken when Mama was in her late 20s, sometime during the 1940s.

Mama's hair was black and very long when I was young, but she obviously wore it short in her 20s before I was born, as illustrated in the photo above.  I recall her sitting on the floor between Daddy's legs and him scratching her scalp with a comb to lift dandruff.  Neighbor ladies with whom she was friends when I was between the ages of 5 and 8 (and possibly younger) loved to comb her hair.  They would sit outside on the concrete steps of our apartment and the neighbor would comb her hair and style it in two side braids as I played, not far away from my mother's watchful eye, with said neighbor's child or another outside-playing child who lived nearby.

Mama is holding my sister in this photo dated April 1963.  Sister was born in 1961; she was about 18 months old if the photo was processed in the same month it was taken.
By the time I was 12, and when she wore it shorter (because for some odd reason people thought women of a certain age should not wear their hair below their shoulders and by 1967, she didn't), she'd ask me to "scratch" and/or oil her scalp, if Daddy wasn't home to do it.  I believe she began wearing it short again in her mid-30s after the birth of my sister.

During the 1970s, when her hair was still naturally black, she often wore it up with a "wiglet" attached (a hairpiece with ringlets of curls) as shown above.

In this photo taken during the late 1990s for the church directory, Mama's hair was a frosty brown.
Eventually, her black hair would have probably been 50% gray had she not begun having it professionally colored brown or frosty brown beginning in the 1980s and well into the 1990s.

Mama at her house in April 2017 before going to a fellow nonagenarian's birthday party.  Her gray-blonde hair is pulled back with a blonde ponytail clipped on.
By the 2000s and even now, when she feels well enough to travel to the salon, her hair is colored various shades of blonde, usually honey blonde.

The hair clippings used for the doll "Bea" are a cross between Mama's natural gray and the grown-out professionally colored hair.  She gave up perms over a decade ago and she only has it trimmed now... no more short hair unless it is her choice.  She no longer adheres to the rule that women of a certain age should not allow their hair to grow below the shoulders.  After living over nine decades, this nonagenarian has earned that right not to worry about age-related hair standards.


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  1. Debbie, what you did with your mother's hair is really sweet. Thank you for sharing her story and pictures with us.

    1. Thank you, Arlette, and you're welcome! BTW, I've used my hair on dolls and two of my dolls have my 1st grandson's hair. :-)


  2. I love how you repurposed your mother's hair. She is very attractive no matter what age. Love the Christmas dress on the doll.

    1. Thank you so much simsgrl for reading this lengthy post. I had initially ended it with Christmas redress, but decided (because she looks so fabulous wearing it), to include the photos of my mother.


  3. Replies
    1. Thank you so much beggarmaid. I will share your compliment with her.


  4. That was a great project and tutorial! It really turned out well. I will have to try something like that!


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