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How a Hair Lace Wig is Handmade

Here we look at how a hair lace wig is custom made to order. It all starts with a consultation to understand the client’s requirements, and ends up with a bespoke and properly fitted wig that looks as realistic as can be.

A wig made by hand would take about a week to make. Here’s an overview of what a wig maker will do to make a wig from scratch for someone:

Consultation

A consultation establishes what exactly is required by the client. For example, the hair colour(s), the length, thickness, and any parting will be discussed and decided. Likewise, what the wig is to be used for is important, as this determines the lace used. For example, high definition production will require very fine lace, but theatre needs lace with a thicker construction.

Throughout this whole process, subsequent consultations and fittings with the client are good to ensure that the wig is progressing as required.

Taking a Head Shape

A head shape and head measurements are taken from the client/actor in order to make a pattern for the foundation. 

A head shape is made by wrapping the person’s head in food wrap (for example, Clingfilm) and using sticky tape (like Sellotape) over it to create a strong template. Also, the hair line is marked on to this with a soft pencil and covered over with the tape.

Make the Foundation Template

The Clingfilm head shape and measurements that have been done are used to create the lace foundation template. Firstly, the Clingfilm head shape is fixed to a wig maker’s wooden block. After which, the foundation lace is cut to match the head shape and the pieces are stitched together. This creates the cap for the hair to be knotted into.

Finally, the hairline is tacked into the lace using a darker thread, so the wig maker knows where to knot the hair to. This is then removed once the hairline is completed.

Selecting & Mixing the Hair

The required hair length and colour is selected. To make a natural looking wig, slightly different colours of hair will be blended, as natural hair is not 100% uniform in colour.

The hair is blended using a hackle – a vicious-looking large metal-toothed “brush” that is used to mix hair colours. It also combs out the hair.

The mixed hair is then placed into a drawing mat -a double-sided mat with little hooks on it (a bit like Velcro). This makes it easier for the wig maker to take a small section of hair to work with, and keeps the hair safe from being tangled or blown away.

Knotting the Hair onto the Foundation

The mixed hair is knotted into the lace foundation using a knotting hook, which looks like a small crochet hook. These come in different sizes – larger ones to knot several hairs at once (for the bulk of the wig), and finer hooks for knotting single hairs around the hair line.

Cut & Style the Hair

The hair can now be cut and styled as required. 

Some of the items a wig maker uses: a cradle to support the wig while on the block, a hackle to blend hair colours, a knotting hook and a drawing mat.

An excellent short video showing the whole handmade wig process from start to finish.

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