The wig for Robert Downey Jr. BJD

I posted a lot of the process in Stories on my Instagram, though you couldn't explain much in those within 1 min video, so I decided to make a blog post here.

This poor guy waited for about 1.5 years for his wig, but finally I found time and courage to start the job.

Here are the photos of RDJ throughout different parts of MCU:

As you can see, there are variety of styles, regarding hair direction and length as well. There is one feature though: the hair stands upright on the top of RDJ's head. 

I tried various hair types, and I can tell from my experience that there are a few types that can be used for such wig. Those are angora goat mohair and heat-resistant fiber. There could be other suitable types too, but I never tried them.

Angora mohair looks very realistic, with its super-thin fibers. It can be styled with human hair styling products, dyed with human paints, and so on. 

I decided against it because of a few reasons:
- It inevitally loses its colors over time, no matter how expensive the dye was. It's especially true for the dark colors,
- It can be styled easily, but it's very soft, so you have to restyle the wig every now and then. You have to avoid storing it in the bag, as those standing hairs would flatten.

So my choice is heat-resistant fiber. It doesn't look as natural, as mohair, but if you styled it once it stays upright. Also it costs pretty cheaply: you can buy a $5-8 hair extension on Aliexpress which has enough volume for a good long 8-9" wig. Just search for "heat resistant hair extension". There are straight and curly ones, in various colors:

It wasn't easy to decide what color to choose, as RDJ's hair looks reddish brown on some photos and hazelnut brown on the other photos. I chose a reddish brown shade, pretty dark, so it would look almost black on my photos.

Here are the tools that I used during the process:

1 - a very useful blade tool that allows you to remove extra volume of the hair, was purchased on Aliexpress,
2 - a simple haircomb, very handy, as it has that super narrow teeth side, was purchased on Aliexpress as well,
3 - hairdresser's scissors, I've got mine in some local shop for cheap,
4 - tiny scissors for removing cuticula, very handy to cut extra hairs here and there, also purchased locally,
5 - long nose flat pliers, great for curling the hair,
6 - silicone glue used mostly in scrapbooking, a local brand,
7 - hair clip, good for keeping the hair away from your tools, was purchased on Aliexpress.
Also hot glue gun and heating gun were used:

Also you'll need a piece of glass or plastic to make your wefts, and a knife to peel the wefts off.

A nice hair straightener can be of a great help: most of them are too big to style the hair directly on the wig, even those for making Afro curls, but you can style the hair while it's on the wefts.

You can buy some cheap brand, I have some Gemei hair straightener with ceramic surface. Just make sure that the edges are smooth (outlined with red):

So you can pull your fibers to make them straight or curl them around the edge.

So, I made a wig cap out of a thin tulle. You can see the process being documented pretty thoroughly in my "Making anatomical wig with defined hair line and custom wefts on glue" tutorial. I chose black tulle so the possible bald spots wouldn't be too noticeable.

Here is a wig cap, after I removed it from the head and cut along the natural hairline (screenshot from the video is used, see the video in the beginning of this post):

Important: previously I used Moment Crystal polyurethane glue for both the wig cap and the wefts, but it stinks like crazy due to the solvents in it, so you need a full respiratory protection. I used a silicone scrapbooking glue instead. It works as good for the wig cap. Only 2 layers of tulle were used.
After the silicone glue completely dries it's a bit stiffer than polyurethane glue.

As you can see, the edges don't adjoin to the head perfectly, especially around the ears. That's because no matter how tightly I wrap the head into the cling film, it doesn't stick perfectly, too.

So I made a seam around all of the edges and gathered the fabric a bit. You can gather some areas more and not gather other areas at all, achieving a perfect fit.

Much better now:

I made the wefts using silicone glue. The process is simple: cut a strip of tulle, apply some glue onto it, then lay a bunches of hair onto it. Spread the hairs evenly with any useful tool, it can be anything: a chopstick, a spoon, whatever. I use dental tool for this)) Then apply more glue on top.

I used hot glue for making the wefts as well. There is no difference, just when you style your wig with hot tools you can accidentally ruin the hot glue. But if you style not too close to the hair roots, it's OK. This particular wig has both types of wefts))

If the weft was made with silicone glue, you can peel off the weft by hand, but if you used hot glue you have to use a knife.

I straighten the hairs with a hair straightener. Then I cut each weft to a desired length (about 1.5 cm) and glue it to the back, row by row. The edges of the wefts aren't straight, but have both longer and shorter hairs, so the weft "fades" to the edge.
The top edge of the weft is evenly cut.
I keep about 1 cm distance  between the rows, so the hair looks smooth and without gaps.

If I wanted a smooth look I could do a whole wig like that. But I need a hair standing up on the top. So I do a few more rows, and then I move to another approach: I make a bunches of curled hair and apply them one by one, starting from the front and proceeding to the back.

Looks terrific, in 1950s style))))

Eventually all of the hair is glued:

There is a small bald spot on the crown:

Covering the front line.
I applied a thin layer of silicone glue to the insides of the wig, glued hair to the insides and applied another layer of glue on top for an extra strength.

Then I wrapped the hair back and pressed it with a hair straightener.

Of course, those are too long and should be cut.

I initially made a bunch of hair bundles and attached them to a bald spot with a hot glue:

It's a nice method, but I accidentally ruined those applying too much heat. So I redid the crown adding more bunches made with silicone glue. After I styled the hair the very final small bald spot (about 3x3 mm) is not visible.

I cut the top so there is even length everywhere.

The hair is too thick, so it's a time to use razor blade tool. I worked through all of the volume on top, thinning the hair bunch by bunch, moving the blade from the roots to the edges.

Then I had to style all of that unruly hair.

I used heated pliers the same way as our ancestor styled their hair, back in the days when there was no electric stylers. And hardware heating gun is a perfectr source of heat:

You need a couple of seconds to heat your pliers. 

Warning: use any precautions you feel are necessary, as hardware heating gun produces exteme heat! It can burn your hands in seconds! See that steel nozzle? Just letting you know it turns red on the edges ^_^
Not to mention that the pliers are very hot too.

So, you can work with pliers the same way you work with hair straightener: pull the hair to straighten it or curl the hair. Remove the pliers and hold the hair with your hands in desired position letting it to cool off. After it's set it would stay like that.

Hint: I smoothed one side of jaws of my pliers with a rasp so they won't make creases on the hair fibers, but the curls would be smooth and nice.

The wig is ready!
I tried not to make it too perfect, so I styled the front part to the side and made some stray hairs here and there.

I'm pretty satisfied with the result, though it took me about 4 and a half working days to make this wig. So when people ask me if I could offer wig commissions I politely decline, as it's much easier for me to make a few dresses within the same timeframe.


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