Monday, May 29, 2017

Alpaca Wigs Part 2: Coloring and Weft Making

Coloring

I know I said I would do an article to cover the coloring process but I completely forgot to take any photos so you will have to do with text.

 

I colored my fiber using Ion Color Brilliance. It’s a cream based hair dye sold at most cosmetic and pharmacy stores, and it’s pretty inexpensive. The best part is, ICB comes in natural colors and brights.

On a sheet of aluminum foil, I removed the rubber bands from the cleaned and brushed alpaca. The dye is brushed into the locks. I use a palette knife to blend colors and smooth the dye into the hard to get places. I flip the lock and work the dye into the other side. Repeat with as many locks as needed.

You can test multiple small locks of fiber at different times until you find the shade you want. I prefer bold colors so I left the dye in for 45 min – 1 hour. Rinse gently under warm water under it runs clear. With the cream dyes, the locks will feel really slimy at first and eventually rinse down to a super soft, slick texture.

After gently squeezing out the excess water, lay the locks out to dry on some paper towels.

I noticed the towels would have some color stained from the locks, which is fine. You can choose to rinse again, but I have yet to have any of the dried locks stain my resin.

After drying overnight, you can begin to brush them out. I usually pinch the middle of the lock and shake out the ends a bit. They come apart really nicely. Brush carefully and prepare to make your wefts.

Weft Making

Use a silicone mat, wax paper, acrylic pane as your base. If you use wax paper, double it up so the glue doesn’t seep through and stick to your tabletop.

Now is the time to re-brush and straighten your locks. I actually use a small comb. I find that it forces you to be slower and work with smaller amounts, reducing fiber loss.

Before and after brushing & straightening. 

What I normally do is lay down a line of white Elmer’s Glue, smear it into an even bar about 2-3” wide. I take one lock of alpaca and trim the top just so it’s even-ish. Gently spread the lock open across the glue. As long as you’re careful about not getting the glue everywhere, you won’t have much of a mess. The fibers will look like they’re all messy and tangled but if you brushed it out beforehand, you can easily fix this later.
 

Across the top of the lock, I place another line of glue on above the first glue line. I use my palette knife to spread the glue evenly across the lock. One of the important things to look out for is spreading the glue evenly and with straight edges on both sides.


With the exception of your parting wefts, your other wefts can be thinner. I overestimated how thick to make my wefts and the wig came out fuller than I wanted. Parting wefts need to be full so you can fold them over the glue. If you don’t make the wefts full enough, you just need to do some creative combing and styling. That’s what I did.

So it will take a while for your wefts to dry. I left mine overnight, although 3-4 hours should do it. Have all the glue dry is important so when you peel the wefts off your surface, they come up as one sheet.

Trim the glue as necessary to clean up the edges. I cut the glue off so only about ¼ inch is left holding the weft together.

Gently comb out the tangles. You might lose a little bit of fiber. If there was a spot where glue did not saturate the lock, you might lose a whole chunk. Don’t panic. Just cut that lock in two and trim again. Some people prefer to work with long wefts, others work with tiny pieces at a time. You’ll find that both have their uses.

If you’re storing your wefts for later, lay them flat between two pieces of paper. You can pile them together, it won’t tangle up unless you agitate it. Just make sure to brush it out again before applying to the wig cap.

There are many ways to both color and make wefts so look around on youtube for tutorials. 

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