Sunday, March 7, 2010

Maiko Momoware Style Katsura

I started out by buying a lace front wig on eBay. I wanted a natural looking hairline since maiko use their own hair rather than wearing a wig. My own hair isn't long enough to do a traditional maiko style, and besides, it'll be nice to be able to just take off a wig at the end of the night rather than have to try and unglue my own hair!
Anyway, I bought a wig from quirkyhan, which turned out to have lace at both the front and back! That means I'll have a natural looking line at the nape of my neck as well, which is an added bonus. ^^ I paid around $50 for the wig, which is amazingly cheap for a lace front wig, so I was happy. I think the wig would have been easier to style if I had been able to find a full lace wig, but with the insane prices that full lace wigs get up to, I might as well have bought an actual katsura from Japan!
So, once the wig was in, the next step was to build a metal frame to glue the wig to. I know it sounds strange, but I wasn't planning on using this wig for anything but a katsura, so I wanted the wig to be sturdy, and not to have to worry about the style coming apart when the wig was moved. The metal frame also makes the wig easier to put on and take off, and the styling doesn't get destroyed.
I used a single sheet of K & S Metal in brass, in .015" thickness. You can buy it at Hobby Lobby with their modeling supplies. I cut the sheet in half length-wise, then cut each piece in half again to give me four, more or less, even sections. With a little bit of fiddling on my wig head, I managed to get the pieces into the right positions before hot gluing them in place. It was by no means an exact science, I just played around until it felt comfortable on my head and looked about even on the wig head. I like the .015" thickness because it's still sturdy enough to lend support to the katsura without being too thick that I couldn't work it with my hands. The cut edges will be sharp, so be careful if you do this, but you can shape it without using any special tools. I then fit the wig over the frame so that the hairline would sit when I wanted it to on my own forehead, and hot glued the wig to the frame.

The next step was to style the wig. For product, I used what I had on hand - Hold It!, which is basically a hair glue, and aerosol hair spray. I thought the hair glue would actually be the deciding factor on how firm the style would hold, but surprisingly, the hairspray was the thing that made the difference! The Hold It! did make the hair easier to handle, though, and it gave it a nice lacquered look like geisha hair has. Running a rattail comb through the hair while the product was still wet also gave it the same look as combed geisha hair, which has a very distinctive look to it, which is created by the wooden combs the katsura makers use during styling.
I started out using Kurokami-Kanzashi's momoware tutorial, through to about step 8. It took a while to get the hair to look just how I wanted it to. I didn't have the supplies to finish up at the time, so I stopped there and let the wig rest for the evening. You can see the progress in the pic to the right, and yes, I have my kanzashi on there. I just thought it was pretty. ^^;
At this point in the styling, it was time to make the 'wings' on the sides of the head. In CelticFreefall's momoware tutorial, she had used half of a "hair doughnut" to add support to the poufs, but I didn't think the end product was large enough. I thought maybe I could find a larger hair doughnut at the beauty supply store, but they only had one size. So, I improvised. I bought a pack of jumbo black foam rollers. I took the plastic bits off and glued two of the foam centres together to form one long roller, which I then took the scissors to, snipping and cutting until it was the shape I wanted. The result is a sort of tapered crescent shaped piece of black foam. (I had to cut out a little bit of the side that would be against the head so it would lay flat, otherwise it would protrude from the side of the head at an odd angle.) As you can see from the picture, it wasn't exactly a masterpiece in foam, being all lumpy and such, but it doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to hold up some hair.
Once I was happy with the size and shape, I sewed the foam crescent to the side of the wig, close to the front hairline. I had to make sure to comb all the hair forward first, otherwise it would be trapped on the back side of the foam, and I wouldn't be able to comb it over to create the wing. (So don't forget, comb forward first, sew the foam on second!)
After the foam was sewn onto the wig, it was time to style the wing. Once I had coated the hair with Hold It! hair glue, I combed it forward at an angle, then back over the foam, making sure to cover the foam completely with hair. It took several attempts to get the hair to look just how I wanted it, and many, many brave and valiant bobby pins are now permanently lodged in the wig, but the wing ended up turning out perfectly!
The second wing took considerably more effort and time. In hindsight, I should have created the foam base for both sides of the wig at the same time, but I didn't, so I just had to eyeball the foam until it was about the same size as the already style side. This slowed down the process a great deal, so if you are going to do the foam like this, create both sides at once! I also seem less able to style things on the right side than I am on the left side, since it took forever to get the bloody wing to look right! Many more bobby pins were sacrificed. But, in the end it all came out looking pretty even, so all the futzing was worth it. (And the parts I'm not entirely happy with will be covered with kanzashi!)
The final step was to create the bun in the back. I thought I could find some way of creating a kanoko cheaper than buying one from Japan, so I purchased some shibori look fabric off of eBay. It didn't turn out to be significantly cheaper, though, so if you are going to do this, go ahead and get the kanoko. Anyway, I bought a red fabric with small gold dots on it that looked like a faux shibori. I cut a small piece of it and used it to cover a hair doughnut. The one good thing about using the fabric instead of the kanoko is that the fabric could be cut so that it could completely envelop the hair doughnut, where the kanoko tends to leave open spots that leave the doughnut exposed. These exposed places are usually covered with hair, so it's not a big deal, but it cuts down on some styling effort. Anyway, with the fabric, I covered the hair doughnut and stitched the inside seam closed with a quick whip stitch. I knew it was going to be covered, so it didn't have to be pretty, and I wouldn't have to worry about the fabric sliding out of place with it stitched closed. Once the doughnut was covered, I slid it onto the ponytail in the back, parted the ponytail, and wrapped the hair around the doughnut to create the proper look. The hair that was left hanging loose was fanned out over the back of the wig and sewn in place to cover up any spots where the hair wefts were exposed. I then took a piece of red ribbon, tied it around the newly made bun to cover up the hair bands that were keeping the hair in place, tying it in a knot in the front and leaving the ends loose.
And that was it!

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