Sunday, March 13, 2016

Alpaca Wigs Pt. 1: Processing Raw Fiber

I got my hands on some (read: a lot) suri alpaca from a local farmer and am trying to learn how to process and make wigs from it. This stems from the lack of wigs that fit Cerisedolls Ombres; her ears keep getting in the way of most wigs I get for her.

There are so many tutorials on how to process raw fiber for wigs that I'm just going to do a short documentation of my adventure.

So here's the raw fiber separated into bundles for cleaning.

The fiber smells really strong, although I'm not sure what else to expect from raw alpaca straight off the farm. XD I bundled up the raw alpaca and rubberbanded the ends for washing.

Take note: wash small quantities at a time.

I used a small bucket and filled it with lukewarm water and Dawn dish detergent. I don't think I used enough detergent but the Dawn didn't do much for me for washing off the dirt or getting rid of the smell, even after a second wash.

After trying a few different soaps, I resorted to Tide laundry detergent. Finally the smell was gone and it was definitely better at washing out the dirt and gunk. I didn't bother trying to pick out the bits of grass and hay at this point, although some tutorials will suggest you get busy with those tweezers.

It took me about 5 washes, but I tried to clean a to much in one shot.

Once the fiber was cleaned, I began combing. Most of the debris came out during this process, although a few bigger pieces needed to be tweezed out.

Before wash

Top: washed, Bottom: combed
I've gotten quite a bit cleaned and processed, but it's amazing how light and soft alpaca fiber really is. I was surprised how much fiber it took to equal 1/2 oz. I have to get back to combing so I have enough for two wigs. The next article on wig making will be about the different methods on dying and coloring the fiber. I'm leaning towards using Manic Panic but there are so many options, I'd like to see which produces the best colors.

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