Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Friday, June 15, 2012

Paper Hair

One thing that is awesome about my job is that I have a pretty eccentric range of tasks. This week I took time out of my normal vacuuming and boob-shaping schedule to make paper hair for my mannequins.

If that didn't make any sense to you, maybe a visual will help:

This is the paper hair I made in grad school. Pretty good for a first try. But, if I decided to pursue a PhD in advanced paper hair arts, I could be producing something like this:

From the Kyoto Costume Institute
Why paper hair? Well, mannequins can be creepy. Too abstract and you get ominous blank faces and missing limbs. Too realistic and you hit the uncanny valley and your visitors have nightmares. The nice thing about paper hair is that it gives the idea of hair and can be styled to represent different periods, but everyone knows you aren't trying to fool them into thinking it is human hair.

Speaking of creepy, here are the only two pictures I took of the process this week. I'm actually pretty proud of how this 1840s hair turned out, but it might be hard to tell how awesome it is while you are being distracted by the sight of a woman wrapped in saran wrap.

We were hot gluing pieces the paper to a buckram cap, and had the saran wrap there to stop the glue from seeping through the buckram and sticking to the head. Later I pulled a ribbon tightly across her face and left it overnight because I was trying to flatten part of the 1950s hairdo. 

I think on my resume I will describe this as "mannequin torture craft projects."  


  1. I just came across this entry, and I have to say - the one you've done on your own is so much better than our joint effort! Great job!

  2. That 1840s one turned out to be the best of the bunch. If I showed you the 1950s wig I made you would be much less impressed. But for the record, I thought ours with the front curls was pretty awesome!