Welcome back to another edition of What The Fuck Am I Doing? I’m your host, Mac Beauvais, and we’re going to talk about a project that was nearly the death of me.
In my last installment, I mentioned that I decided to make three costumes in the four days leading up to SDCC 2013. You already know about the Ariel one, but the other two were Cosmo and Wanda from Fairly Odd Parents for my husband and myself. I made a lot of elements for both, but the biggest challenge was to style a wig for my Wanda.
The Breakdown: Most animated characters are hard enough translating into cosplay, but of unique difficulty are the ones that are extreme caricatures of the human form. These are often characters whose elements change to suit the animators needs at certain angles. As a example, think about classic Mickey Mouse cartoons and how his ears are cheated depending on the angles of his head. (Both are always showing, even in profile and three-quarter.) Wanda’s hair presented a similar challenge as the back and front roll are both viewable at many different angles.
Now, I am no stranger to the world of wearing wigs and crazy hair. Here are some examples from the header on my Facebook page (including the wig we’ll be discussing):
I love me some wigs. However, I am a novice in the arena of styling them beyond a bobby pin here and there. Before this project I had cut and restyled a grand total of: 0. To make this whole thing even more interesting, I found myself working under strict budget constraints. I ideally buy wigs that range into the 30 or 40 dollar mark. They’re not the best out there, but they generally have plenty of hair on the cap and are easier to style since they’re not so cheaply synthetic. (You can read more about wig shopping from my post over at Suvudu.)
Total cost for my Wanda wig: $17
What do you get for $17? Cheaply plastic fibers, a non adjustable cap, and unrealistically shiny wig with unevenly distributed/very little hair. Fortunately, the shiny part was not an issue since this is a cartoon character. The rest on the other hand…well, here’s how it started:
The first thing that really needed to be done was to give the wig the character’s signature front roll. The bangs in the front were obviously not going to achieve this on their own and there was not enough hair on the front of the wig to fake it. Knowing I didn’t need the wig to be as long as it was, I sheared off the bottom section, working to keep the clipped ends even.
As a temporary measure, I folded a piece of packing tape over the edges to keep them in place while I warmed up my hot glue gun. Once it was warm, I drizzled glue all over the ends of the hair until they were one big section. That section was then glued to the inside forehead band of the wig cap.
Once that section was secured, I brushed the short bangs down into it and proceeded to hairspray the ever loving hell out of it. (We’re talking chemical warfare.) While the fibers were more tacky and sculptable from the drying hairspray, I took the ends and rolled them around into a big curl, securing it with a couple of bobby pins.
I then hit the front again with a ton of hairspray. (I use a brand called AeroGel for hairspray. It’s a sort of hairspray/gel hybrid that I use on my own hair. You can use anything you like, but keep in mind unless the wig is secured in other ways that the hairspray will lose effectiveness over time.)
Then came the really tricky, rip all of my own hair out moment: figuring out how to do the back. I knew that I wanted to curl it all up to mirror the character’s rolled, almost bun-like look, but the hair towards the base of the cap was very minimal.
The general word of warning on cheap synthetic wigs is to avoid introducing them to heat from things such as curling irons because it will melt the fibers. I, however, am an idiot and don’t always listen to what I’m told, so I took a curling iron to it anyway.
Moving as quickly as I could, I’d roll and heat sections of the wig until I could feel the heat coming through the hair. (Touch gently so you keep your fingertips!) I’d then secure that section with a clip.
I did this for the whole head and sprayed everything down again with hairspray. I let it sit for a few hours and the result was not stunning, but it had achieved adding a flip to the bottom hairs so that they were all moving in the right direction.
Carefully brushing through the wig, I’d roll up sections all the way around and secure them with bobby pins until it looked like this:
And then, you guessed it: more hairspray. (I’m probably dying from inhalation as we speak.) However, hair spray was not going to be enough and the bobby pins were too obvious, so I grabbed my bottle of glue called E6000 Quick and dabbed it in sections right where the pinnacle of the rolls meet the back of the hair to secure them firmly. You can use pretty much any glue, but I like the E6000 Quick because it sets up after only a minute or two, has a lot of holding power, and I’m impatient. The final step was to wiggle those last bobby pins out of the bottom until the only ones left were on top of the head holding the big curl.
The finished look:
I was really worried about how this was going to turn out, but it was apparently good enough that Nickelodeon asked us to film us for some Halloween programming bumps. Whether or not they’ll be on television remains to be seen, but that’s a damn fine compliment.
Got questions? Concerns? Accidentally gave a girl nickel a boy’s name? Let me know in the comments below!