Apologies for the terrible pun (especially as they’re technically thrupenny dread falls) – the name crept in to my head while I was diverted with the task of making them, and before I knew where I was, it was too late to stop it! But I digress…
We were off to a steampunk gig at Scala, and I needed to come up with something to do with my hair. The last time we went there it was swelteringly hot, and that was at Samhain. August, after a few weeks of blistering heat, was likely to be even worse. Hats were out of the question, then, but my hair is far too unruly to entrust with a style of its own for an evening!
As luck would have it, I’ve been having a bit of a clearout lately, and discovered some long-forgotten jumbo lengths of kanekalon synthetic hair. I’d been toying with sticking them back on eBay, but honestly you can pick the stuff up so cheaply, it hardly seemed worth it. Figured I might as well have a play and see what happened!
I had three colours to choose from: black, dark brown, and ivory. The slightly ambitious plan was to have a go at both transition and candy cane dreads. Bearing in mind I’ve never made anything like this before, not to mention the fact the rest of my outfit was assorted shades of blacks and browns, these two seemed the way to go…
Inititally I intended to make two bunches, so I split each braid into four (two for the bands, two for ribbon ties), then each sectioned piece into four again. Time to get braiding!
I began by doing the bands, which I just looped over the post of an upright chair. As my natural hair colour is fairly close to the brown, I wanted the brown as the top colour, blending down into black. Which means starting with the black dread.
There ensues a process of loose-plaiting, twisting, and backcombing. Endless backcombing. Then some more backcombing. You get the general picture!
So. Er. Yes. Here’s where it all turns a bit unhelpful. The trouble with trying to blog about creative projects is, well, they’re creative projects! By their very nature I end up getting so absorbed in what I’m doing, I completely forget to keep a photographic log. Sorry!
For those of you who are interested, I’ll describe the process as best I can. For those who aren’t, I shan’t be the least bit offended if you want to scroll past all the talky bit to the pretty pictures at the end. Off you go, then! Carrying on in three… two… one…
Once the individual strands were formed into thin dreads, the real fun began! First up, wrapping the brown around the top of the black, using about half the length of the brown dread to cover roughly a quarter to a third (the latter for transitions, the former for candy canes) of the top of the black.
I tried various techniques, but the one I settled on was to wet my free hand in a bowl of water, then run it roughly up and down the twisted portion of braid, before squeezing it with hot hair straightening tongs.
The rest of the brown I began to space out, either evenly for candy canes, or with increasing amounts of black showing for the transitions. Again, wetting my hand, rubbing it along the braid, and using the tongs to set it. Then I tucked the trailing tip of brown into the black, set it, and continued down to the remaining portion of black hair.
I swiftly discovered the reason behind suggestions you use a metal comb for this task: this was the first tooth of my lovely hand-cut Kent comb to go. By the midway point, I’d lost about ten, and headed to the local supermarket where I stocked up on cheaper (and, surprisingly, sturdier) options.
When the two bands were done, I was worried they didn’t seem very thick, so gave them a try to see how they’d sit. They weren’t even going to begin to be enough for bunches!
Actually, I’d been in two minds as to whether I wanted bunches or a ponytail, which seemed less hassle to put in, and less likely to fall apart over the course of the evening! So this rather made that decision for me.
I took a goodly length of cotton tape, and used that for the ribbon tie, making the dreads in exactly the same way using the remaining hair. Yup, again I’m wishing I had a picture to show you. Especially considering the carnage that ensued!
I tried the whole thing on as a ponytail and… it still didn’t cover my hair.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the real secret to creativity? The ability to reach that moment when you just want to throw the whole damn lot in the bin and stomp off in a tearful tantrum, but instead? Instead, you just keep going. There’s a fierceness, a fearlessness to creativity. Or at least it seems that way to me! Neatly following directions will only get you so far. That’s not art: it’s whatever medium you’re working in’s version of painting by numbers. The “fuck it” moment. That’s where the magic happens!
Wait, I have to give due credit here. Because, while I know this process well, it never gets any more comfortable. There weren’t tears, but there may well have been a teensy bit of stomping.
I headed downstairs, utterly despondent, and announced to Angus the falls were shit and I was shit and everything was shit and I was out of time and that was shit and I don’t have any money and that’s even more shit and now I was going to have to go to the gig looking like shit, so that’s just totally shit, isn’t it?
Let’s be generous and say he was laughing with me, not at me. Yes. Let’s do that.
Either way, he found my anguish suitably amusing, made it clear he had every faith in my ability to salvage the situation, picked me up and squeezed me till I feared for my ribs. I duly announced he’d squeezed all the grumpy out of me and I could now return to making my falls!
Yes, yes I am basically an overgrown child, and yes it really is that simple to get me to shrug off a bad mood when the cause is something as trivial as hair extensions!
Here’s where I really wish I’d taken pictures. Because, just between us, I may have gone a teensy bit cray cray. Just a bit. Little smidge. Totally off the reservation batshit insane. But only a little. Whee!
As there’s no pictures until the finished result, let’s just say there was ribbon…
Lots of ribbon.
Also leather thonging.
Also copper wire.
Also clock pendants.
More copper wire.
The thrupenny bits!
Which were actually stamped 1949, but hey… what’s a little time travel between friends, right?!