Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Vaporeon Gijinka - Wig & Hairpieces - Pokémon

Part 4 of the Vaporeon saga--Wig and Hairpieces. After my initial rocky start, I quite enjoyed creating the decorations for this wig. Though not the most construction heavy wig (like my Presea or Asuna wigs) it required a lot of labour and styling. This wig presented a new challenge for me: dyeing.

Links to Part 1: Bolero, Part 2: Under Layers, and Part 3: Wrap Skirt Tail!

Thanks to Elemental Photography for the great photoshoot! Credit for the original costume design goes to Cowslip!

It's a complaint I have made many times before but I'll say it again: it is really difficult to find a base wig that perfectly matches your character if you need it to be a specific shade of grey, green, blue or purple. And even if you find one that matches you may not be able to find it in the length you need. I had similar problems with finding a wig for Tomoyo and Suppi because they fell into this colour spectrum where there is just not a lot of wig selection.

My problem was that I ordered my wig first, before I went fabric shopping. The wig I picked was a teal wig from Epic Cosplay (though it is really difficult to see here, believe me when I say it is really teal). When I was shopping for fabric I ended up shifting the colour palette to be more blue. When the wig arrived in the mail it really didn't match the costume. Also the wig I picked did not have enough length for the desired style...

(For the record, I don't blame Epic Cosplay for the teal wig, I blame myself for choosing a teal wig and then changing my mind about making the costume blue!)

At the time I was still under the impression that I could meet my original deadline, so I didn't have time to order another a wig--it wouldn't have arrived in time for me to style it.

I went ahead and styled the wig I had, but was super dissatisfied with it. Shown right is the original wig I styled with the original hairpieces I ended up later discarding.

A year later I re-thought my plan for this wig and decided that I really wanted to attempt the slight gradient that is in the original rendering. To do this I needed to order another wig that was longer, and much lighter--so I could dye it to the desired colour.

The second wig I bought was much closer to what I wanted for my base. I ordered a much longer curly wig in "ice blue" from Epic Cosplay.

The first thing I did was trim the bangs to the desired length/style. Then I sectioned off the remaining hair into 4 parts: the two lower pigtails would form the long braids, and the two upper pigtails would form the buns. The lower pigtails I took scissors to and thinned the hair. The bottom needed to be these two wisps rather than the chunky sections you can see in the picture on the left.

I changed the design of the hair a bit, because the upper part was actually supposed to have a lot volume before feeding into the braids, with these spikes of shorter hair sticking out. After the problems I encountered on my first failed styling I decided to add the buns to the top half and use the curls in the wig to create the shorter strands of hair sticking out. This gave me the width/apparent volume without me having to tease it/add it in with hair spray. Suffice to say because the wig was curly I was worried that any attempt to add volume was going to lead to a messy tangled disaster... So the deviation from the actual design was quite intentional.

Looking at some tutorials, I began by creating my dyes. I tested them of the off-cut hair from the bangs until I was satisfied with the colour. The dye was made using 99% alcohol and india ink. I created two bottles of dye--one that was blue and one that was more teal. There was no scientific formula for mixing these, I just added drops of ink until the colour was dark enough. Just write down what you did because if it is a long wig like mine was, you will probably have to make more. Which I did.

The bottles of 99% alcohol I bought already had these hand spray nozzles, but if not I would have bought spray bottles at the dollar store and mixed my dye in there. That makes the application easy.

I did this outside, because I didn't want to end up with blue dye residue everywhere. As it was, my fingers were blue for days after. I covered my stool (which is vintage and actually belongs to my mum) with a heavy duty garbage bag to protect it also.

I started with the bangs. To apply it I simply spritzed it with dye and combed it through. The more saturated you make it, the darker the concentration of colour. In the design, the crown of the head is where the darkest tint is, so I did the bangs first so as to give myself a reference point to compare to for the gradient.

I tied the upper layers out of my way and worked on each bottom pigtail next. I would let down the pigtail and carefully comb out the hair. Since I was trying to preserve the curls and keep the wig from tangling, I dyed each curl individually. Once That section was finished, I would carefully roll up the curl and pin it in position, allowing it to dry. If you leave them hanging wet it can straighten the fibers out a bit, leaving the wig more wavy than curly--which can be a good thing, but not what I was going for. To give it the gradient it had to be most saturated at the base, and I would carefully comb it down to pull the dye down through the hair.

You can see at the back that I parted the hair in a sharp zig-zag so as not to reveal the base of the wefts/netting. This was to save me from having to add in wefts to make a proper part. This works fine for this particular project since the lower half of the hair did not have to pull upwards into the high buns.
Using straight pins and plastic bags, I covered the bottom half of the wig while I worked on the top half.

The top half was done to be much darker than the bottom. I simply made it more saturated with dye. Same with the bottom, I did each curl individually and pinned it up to dry.

The finished dye job, before I brushed out the curls again. You can see the gradient best here. It was meant to be subtle, and mostly to match the wig colour to the costume. I think if I would revisit this wig I would make the crown another shade darker.

This is what it looked like once I brushed it out.

Next I went about styling the sections. I did a quick test style first (pictured left). Many bobby pins were used to create the buns. The lower braids were done in a fishtail braid style. I didn't pull the braiding too tight at the start of the braid, because I wanted it to retain some volume. I sprayed the finished braids and buns with hairspray to keep them looking tidy. I later replaced the black elastics with clear ones.

After doing the back, I moved on to styling the bangs. I used hairspray and a hair dryer to create the big curl and the large section that crossed over.

I decided to take my scissors and thin the ends of the hair even more. Reducing volume, but not length.

I made the silk flowers for the hair in a kanzashi style, like I did with my Cloche Hat last year. A good tutorial for how to make them can be found here! I sewed an assortment of beads into the center of each. The beads on this costume are a range of colours: navy, medium blue, pearly blue and teal. Each flower was hot glued onto a hairclip base. The barrettes I used had a little hole in each end, this came in hand later for attaching the bead strings.

I strung the beads on tiger tail and used claw hooks to attached the ends to my barrettes. This means they are removable.

Overall this wig was super fun to make and looked great. As much as it hurt my pride to do so, I am glad I scrapped the first wig and started again fresh.

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