2nd Edition

Wig Making and Styling A Complete Guide for Theatre & Film

By Martha Ruskai, Allison Lowery Copyright 2016
    336 Pages
    by Routledge

    334 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    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



    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.