2nd Edition

Wig Making and Styling
A Complete Guide for Theatre & Film

ISBN 9781032179605
Published September 30, 2021 by Routledge
336 Pages

USD $39.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Wig Making and Styling: A Complete Guide for Theatre and Film, Second Edition is the one-stop shop for the knowledge and skills you need to create and style wigs. Covering the basics, from styling tools to creating beards, it ramps up to advanced techniques for making, measuring, coloring, and cutting wigs from any time period. Whether you’re a student or a professional, you‘ll find yourself prepared for a career as a skilled wig designer with tips on altering existing wigs, multiple approaches to solving wig-making problems, and industry best practices.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Wig-Making Terms, Tools, and Techniques

Glossary of Wig and Hair Terms

Wig-Making Tool Kit

Wig Styling Tool Kit

Hairpins and Clips


A Well-Equipped Wig Area

Handling a Wig

Blocking a Wig

Blocking Hard-Front Wigs

Blocking Lace-Front Wigs

Basic Hand Sewing Stitches

Chapter 2: Wig Application and Removal

Hair Prep

Long Hair

Nylon Wig Caps vs Fishnet Wig Caps

Short Hair

Prepping for Film

How to Hold and Put on a Lace-Front Wig

Applying Hard-Front Wigs and Falls

Removing Wigs After a Performance

A Word About Quick Changes and Tap Dancing

Chapter 3: Care and Maintenance of Wigs

Cleaning Wig Laces

Cleaning Facial Hair

Touching up a Wig

Washing Wigs

A Note About Hair Washing Products

Washing the Wig off the Block

Washing the Wig on the Block

Storing Your Wigs

Storage Systems

Chapter 4: Wig-Making Basics: Learning to Ventilate

Ventilating Needles and Holders

Loading Your Needle

Wig-Making Laces and Nets

Fronting Laces

Back/Foundation Laces

Stretch Laces

Other Wig-Making Materials

The Direction and Stretch of the Lace

Types of Hair

Basic Wig-Knotting/Ventilating Technique

Double Knotting

Ventilating Positions

Hair Density and Ventilating Patterns

Ventilating Direction

Untying Knots

Color Blending

Sewing with Invisible Thread

Hair Punching

Chapter 5: Taking Accurate Measurements

Proper Head Measurements

Transferring Head Measurements to a Block

Plastic-Wrap Head Tracings

Padding Out a Block with a Plastic Tracing

Chapter 6: Facial Hair

Creating the Pattern for the Facial Hair Piece

Tracing method, free hand method, & stock paper patterns

Adding Texture to the Hair

Individual Hairpiece Characteristics




Beards and Goatees

Cutting and Styling the Facial Hair

Applying the Facial Hair

Removing the Facial Hair

Direct Application Techniques Hair

Laid On Facial Hair

Floating Beards

Historical Timeline of Facial Hair Styles Gallery of Natural Facial Hair

Chapter 7: Working with and Adapting Commercial Wigs and Weft

Cleaning Old Wigs

Bringing Back the Shine of an Old Wig

Dulling the Shine of a New Synthetic Wig

Removing Weft

Thinning a Wig with Thinning Shears

Sewing Weft to the Underside of a Wig

Adding Weft to Wigs

Sewing Weft to a Pre-Made Foundation

Piecing Together Wigs

Full Bottom Wig

Piecing Together Wigs to Increase Size

Styling Tricks to Conceal the Front Edge of a Wig

Using the Performer’s Own Hair to Conceal the Front Edge of the Wig

Chapter 8: Fronting Wigs

Fronting and Other Adaptations of Commercial Wigs

Types of Fronts

The Human Hairline

Changing the Hairline

Building the Fronts

Variation 1

Variation 2

Variation 3

Truing the Hairline

Lace Direction and Hair Growth Direction

Quick Front: A Step-by-Step Example

Standard Front

Deep Fronts

Deep Front Variation 1

Variation 2

Variation 3

Mini Fronts

Silk Blenders

Nape Lace

Chapter 9: Building a Wig From Scratch

Types of Foundations

Building a Circumference-Band Foundation

Vegetable Net & Caul Net/Circumference Band/Right-Side-Out/Hand Sewn

Variations on Circumference Band Foundations

Variations on Nape-Piece Foundations

Variations on One-Piece Foundations

Notes About Adding Hair

Parts, Crown Swirls, and Cowlicks

Miscellaneous Foundations

Balding Wigs


Sewing Weft to a Pre-Made Foundation


Chapter 10: Partial Wigs, Toupees, and Hairpieces


Graying Temple Pieces



Type 1

Type 2

Type 3

Type 4


Kabuki-Inspired Lion Wig

Making Custom Weft

Using Weft to Make Clip-In Extensions

Chapter 11: Wig Styling Techniques

Elements of a Hairstyle

Straight Hair

Wetting and Drying

Flat-Ironing and Roller Setting

Steaming the Hair

Wavy Hair

Finger Waves/Water Waves

Marcel Waves

Pin curls

Waving and Crimping Irons

Curly Hair

Roller Setting

Roller Setting: Ringlets/Sausage Curls

Roller Setting: Spiral Rolling Techniques

Spiral Curls/Medusa Set


The Standard Basic Braid

French Braids

Reverse French Braid

Rope Braids

Herringbone Braids


Chapter 12: Creating a Hairstyle

Break the Hairstyle Down into Sections

Understand the Hairstyle

Interpreting Research

Draw Your Setting Pattern

Set Your Wig

Comb Out the Set

Teasing and Stuffing

Wire Frames

Styling Men’s Wigs

Wig Setting and Styling Tips

From Set to Style: Examples

Example 1: Cosette in Les Miserables

Example 2: 1930s Hollywood Movie-Star Look

Gallery of Historical Hairstyles

Chapter 13: Choosing, Cutting, Coloring, and Perming the Hair

Dyeing Wigs and Wig Fibers

Universal Hair Color Systems

American Cosmetology Hair Level System

Types of Hair Color Products

Dyeing Protein Fibers

Using Fabric Dyes

Preparing Hair Bundles for Dye

Dyeing Synthetic Fibers

Perming Wigs and Wig Fibers

Cutting Wigs

Chapter 14: Hair that Isn’t Hair: Wigs Made from Other Materials

Bases and Foundations

Fosshape™ Bases

Buckram and Felt Bases

Other Types of Bases

Covering the Cap

Building a Structural Support Frame

Combining Hair and Non-Hair Materials

Working with Jumbo Braid

Example of the Step-by-Step Process of Creating an Unusually Shaped Wig

Gallery of Non-Hair/Fantasy Wigs

Chapter 15: The Business Of Wigs and Hair

Analyzing and Understanding the Play

Forms of Drama

Basic Plot Structure

Scene Breakdowns

Organizing Your Production Bible

Character Design

Group Relationships

Designing an Overall Look for a Production

Budgeting for a Production

During the Production

Wig Jobs and How to Get Them

A Note About Unions, Licenses, and Certifications

Charging for Your Work

Appendix 1: Wig Resource/Supply List

Appendix 2: Blank Forms for Shop Use


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Martha Ruskai's thirty year career as a freelance wig and makeup artist and designer includes opera, film, print, TV, and dance. When not in the theatre, she can be found at dog shows, agility, and water trials with her Portuguese Water Dogs.

Allison Lowery is the Wig and Makeup Specialist for Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas -- Austin and the author of the Historical Wig Styling books. She has previously worked at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Glimmerglass Opera, among many others. She is also an active freelance wig stylist, makeup artist, and wardrobe stylist. Please visit her website at www.thewigmistress.com to keep up with her many projects.