Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wigging Out -- Braids

They’ve given Aunt Jemima
a new headrag
synthetic fiber curls
to replace bright calico…

Like the hopeful young women of “Dreamgirls,” the women in my mother’s family swore by their wigs.  Usually the wigs covered their short plaits, but every now and then someone’s wig would slip and one of those little pig tails would peek out – to the wig wearer’s everlasting embarrassment.

This was my mother’s “go to” wig.  She called it “Glendora.”  I borrowed it for a photo shoot when I was in college:

The women in m mother’s family knew how to make cornrows, but they considered such styles “countrified” so it was the young men of my era who reclaimed braided hairstyles as a fashion statement.  At first they would go to our cousin, Mary Jane, to get their hair plaited so their Afro’s would blow out to more impressive dimensions when they got ready to go to a dance.  Later, under the influence of Stevie Wonder, they fell into the habit of wearing braids as a regular hairstyle instead of just as part of the upkeep on their ‘fros.

Braided hairstyles were one manifestation of the highly developed traditions of sculptural arts in African societies.  Cicely Tyson was one of the first African American women to adopt braids as a fashion statement when she appeared on the CBS drama series, East Side, West Side with her hair in cornrows in 1962.  In the doll world, Bryon Lars created extravagant sculptural braids for Moja, Tano, and Tatu from his Treasures of Africa collection while doll couturière Em’lia has crowned her “Comet Moth,” the 4th doll in her Insectopia collection, with braided horns.  

My braided wig designs are much simpler, but here is a selection of the styles I have developed for 1:6 scale dolls and action figures:

Updo braids -- Expresso
Mircro-braids -- Black
Center part braids -- Auburn
Center part braids -- Chocolate

Center bead braids -- Brick

Please let me know what styles and colors are your favorites and what you would be willing to pay for handcrafted items that take up to six hours a piece to produce.

À Bientôt


  1. I love seeing all of your personal pictures. Today you look even younger than you did then. By the way, I have a suggestion. I think you should also show what the wigs look like on Barbie dolls, too. There are going to be some that aren't familiar with these dolls and they will wonder what the wigs will look like on a doll they are familiar with.

  2. The first three are very elaborate. The auburn, center-part style is my fave. I love dolls with braids.

    My 10-year-old grandson has worn braids since his hair was long enough for my daughter to braid it. He received his first haircut at 3 or 4, I think, wore an afro for a while, a crew cut, another afro, and allowed it to grow again until age 8 when he requested another haircut. A few months later, later he resumed his signature braids.

    Is a haircut required for the dolls that wear your wigs or can their original hair be tucked underneath? Is the auburn center-part wig for sale?

    dbg (Debbie -- don't know why Blogspot will not post my correct ID.)

  3. I've worn braids in my hair in phases. I love my braids. My grandmother wore a wig a lot. I was surprised when she had the wig off that she had a lot of hair underneath the wig.

    I love the micro braids and the center part braids. I'll take them in all shades.
    My question is the same are the dolls modeling the wigs hair cut underneath?

  4. I like the way your braids are textured. Usually braided hair on fashion dolls is thinner. Vanessa of Vans' Doll Treasures had a Power Team guy with braids - very striking looking - do you have photos of any of your guys wearing "hair" braids?

    I enjoy how you begin with your hair story/stories and then glide into the hair of your dolls. Thanks for sharing ;-D

  5. Dear all,

    I envy people who can wear braided hairstyles. I have never been able to wear cornrows myself because my hair is so fine, the tension would make it would all break off. I can do twists but I have to take them out the same day which is very time consuming.

    The wigs are not designed to fit over existing hair. I find the process of yanking out all the original hair to be very therapeutic. I can also do "straight" hairstyles with silky textured embroidery floss that can even be gently combed so removing the original hair does not restrict the doll to Afros, braids, and twists.

    When I get a chance, I will take more pictures with some different models -- including men. So I guess I'll be doing more hair stories in the near future!

    Many thanks for the feedback.