Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wigs and Unicorns

Most of the things I put here are replicas of costumes worn in movies/shows/comics/whatever. So this costume is a huge deviation from my usual. I don't even have an original concept sketch to show off. I sort of just made it up as I went along. Which, ironically, went very well for me.

I work at the Colorado Rennaissance Faire. Last year I was this:

And if I have ANY say in it this year I will never, ever, touch that costume again. I did not make any part of it and it was freaking horrible to wear. About 110*F on any given day, made my neck ache to the point where I could barely move my head, almost no visibility...the list of complaints goes on.


This year I decided I'd really like to present something that would allow me to actually interact with people. Speak to them, make facial expressions, have fingers. So, I came up with the notion of a human version of a unicorn. A cursed unicorn who's been thrown into the human world, unable to figure out exactly how all the rules work. I'm sort of psyched to try it out.

So, at the Scarborough Rennaissance Faire in Waxahachie, Texas -- in between four tornadoes -- I debuted a costume of my own design.

It consists of two underskirts that have elastic tops, and the full overdress that laces up the back and has some decorative lacing down the sides. The sleeves are rather like Yuna's sleeves in that they hold on to my upper arms and lace closed. They also drape wonderfully. The corset I started making; my friend Kitty (who is a freakin' badass costumer, I'm sure I'll have some photos up here of her eventually) is much better than I and she helped me start it - I helped cut it, sewed the first stitches and did pressing, and then had to leave for the night to make it to work. I wound up running out of time so she was kind enough to finish it for me and it's WONDERFUL.

So, the Unicorn Ariella:

You may notice there's a wig:

Which is really the focus of this entry. (Other than LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!!!).

The photo above is the wig just after I purchased and styled it. Speaking of; the wig came in top notch condition. Smooth as silk, beautiful, exactly as advertised, a week before I expected it. So, lhjun2010 on ebay, here's some advertising for you.

Now here's the problem with wigs: when you wear them loose, and they're long (this wig falls to about my hips) ... they tend to tangle like freaking hell. It's ridiculous. It sort of makes me blindingly angry.

After two days in the sun and running about in Waxahachie, the wig looked more like this:

I don't know if you've ever tried to brush a snarl out of a wig (I don't own a wig brush, by the way, I use a plain wide-toothed comb) but it's friggin impossible. I made a tangle into a snarl into a rats nest into a hot mess. All of that fuzziness in the middle of the wig is fist sized tangles.

I tried to quickly run a brush through before day two of faire and it was like shooting marshmellows at a boulder. So I gave up, wore it for day two, and felt disgusting since my wig was so awful.

I did, however, manage to fix it.

I went to Walmart after reading Internet recommendations and checked the Ethnic hair care section. I was thrilled to find the exact thing people have suggested: Motions Oil Sheen & Conditioning Spray.

This stuff is amazing. It's slick, but it doesn't leave a horrible oily residue (I haven't washed my hands since using it and I'm not feeling sticky or greasy). It smells like strawberries, sort of a sugary scent, very unexpectedly pleasant.

For reference:

The problem?

This stuff does not work on the matted mess that my wig was. It was absolutely useless on the bad tangles, actually.

So my solution?


I used most of a travel bottle of conditioner on the wig, filled the tub with warm water (not hot, not cold. Hot would change the shape of the wig, cold would just suck), and put the wig in. I laid it in the water flat and then tugged it around a bit to get what hair would naturally go straight to do it. Then I let it rest for ten minutes.

After ten minutes I started gently combing, starting at the bottom and working up 1/2"-1" at a time. When I started to get frustrated with the tangles I just walked away for 5min and then came back and tried again. It took about 30-45min before I was satisfied that I'd done what I could. So I pulled the wig up and rinsed it with the shower head on cold to get all of the conditioner out.

Then I took it back to my room and towel dried it a bit (squeezing using a towel, no rubbing), and put it back on the wig head.

After letting it rest for an hour I began gently combing it out. Once I had done a first pass (mostly on the bottom) I started spraying the Sheen and working tiny bits of fiber at a time to slowly (VERY SLOWLY OH MY GOD SLOWLY) work it out.

For the next 3-4hrs I was literally just combing, combing, combing. Around the time I wanted to throw the wig out it started to give. I could see the snarls going out. It was a relief.

So, almost five hours of hair pulling (har har) later: the final result is above. It's a relief. It looks strange because it's still wet and I just sprayed it down.

Speaking of, here's how the sheen rests on the fibers:

So, there's how to unmat a wig after a weekend at a renaissance faire.