Five Months?!

I have started my new, big-girl job with the library, and I am finally starting to settle down into something like a routine. My job eats up 45 hours a week of my time, and I keep an active family life, and I’m writing a novel plus short stories. Somehow, in all of that, I am squeezing in a bit of time here and a bit of time there for hair. Where do I find the time? It’s due to my new process of Spun Art Locks. It’s very easy to do just a little bit at a time. Twenty minutes here, an hour there, rather than the marathon 5-8 hour sessions I had to do making more standard wool dreads. I’m not being shy about my method for making Spun Art Locks either. I’ve already made the first of two (maybe three?) videos documenting my process. I’ll run through it here via text:

  1. Hand card roving colors (1-6 colors at a time)
  2. Spin hand carded clouds into yarn
  3. Felt yarn 1/4 set at a time in boiling water on stove
  4. Shock hot yarn with cold water
  5. Cut to length while still wet
  6. Dry in station in front of fan

The longest part is probably hand carding the colors. It also takes the most muscle. Spinning might take just as long, honestly, but it’s much more enjoyable to me. The whir whir of my spinning wheel is so relaxing. The rip rip, brush brush of hand carding isn’t nearly as fun. Alas, it is necessary to blend the colors and add in extra sparkle or texture. Another thing I’m concentrating on is decoration of my Spun Art Locks. Spikes and skulls and ribbon and thread and feathers and sparkle! It really brings a theme to life when the hair has more texture and interest to it.

Unfortunately, due to my limited time, I have to charge premium prices and turn down a lot of custom orders right now. A full set of 12oz of yarn starts at $150, and I’ll only take on a custom order if 1 you’re a previous customer 2 you’ve got a great idea. I’ll continue to make pre-mades for anyone ravenous to buy them. The pre-mades will be heavily themed and decorated.

Here’s me wearing some of my very own Spun Art Locks in gold, yellow, and dark blonde.
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Here’s about 1/3 the set off the head.
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Anyways, I’m going to keep faithful to my roots (pun, haha) and keep on keepin’ on with hair extensions. I’ll update this blog as often as I can.

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Fads and trends in the dread world

I remember, way back in the early 2000s, when extra smooth totally flawless dreads were the hot item. We’d actually wrap dreads in extra KK hair and smooth it all out with straighteners. Then it seemed to move away from that wrapped look to super smooth regular backcombed, steamed dreads. The trick was a damp towel over the dread with a straightener to get that smoother look. Also, candy cane swirls were all the rage with printed (especially leopard) dreads right behind that. Colors weren’t as available then, with Plastik Haar being THE place for unusual colors. I even bought some neon cone orange for loose extensions (which did not go very well). There was a hot moment where barely sealed naturals were popular. Then came the almighty crochet hook, which has kept its powers over the dread world for quite awhile now. Question is, what will be next, after the crochet hook?

Also, color ways come and go. I cannot remember anything specific from the early 2000s, but it can be easily said wild Rainbows have always been popular. Lately, I see a lot of Lisa Frank inspired color ways, usually in an extremely blended kind of way. Then there’s the Galaxy theme (which I love) that can be attributed in my mind to one photo of dreads in the snow. Mermaid seems to be popular as well and runs the gamut from blue and green to purples and teals. Along with the demand for more naturally textured dreads, there seems to be a general but quiet upswing in demand for more natural colors as well. Autumn sets are now popular year round as they lend themselves to more subdued colors, and there never seems to be enough brown to blonde tipped dreads for everyone.

I wonder, will the dread world swing back in the other direction? More towards the wild and unnatural, or will this drive toward ever more natural appearing dread extensions continue?

Dread woolie making—easy concept, difficult application.

Hey, wool dreads, that’s easy! Rip, split, roll, done. I can do that!

Oh, grasshopper, it’s not so easy. Yes, those are the basic steps, but that “roll” bit can be a bitter bitch to get through if you’re doing it right. Remember there’s hot hot, soapy water involved that will inevitably get everywhere as you move the sopping wet wool from the pot to the rolling surface. Then the rolling surface will get sopping wet as well and the water will fling everywhere as you roll if you’re pushing hard enough. Keeping your hands in soapy, hot water that long leads to major skin dehydration as well. And of course, the sore hands! Pushing and pushing and pushing while rolling again and again can cause some serious pain in the fingers, palms, and arms, even shoulders. And if you’re only doing this basic technique with solid colors, you’ll wind up with basic solid color stick dreads—want neat effects like wraps and sparkle and swirls and transitions? Even more hard work must be put into each dread.

So yeah, it may sound easier than synth dreads, but it’s still not easy. The best part about wool dread making is no specialty tools. Just wool, hot water, soap, and your hands. Keep rolling y’all!

Thin vs thick and why they’re both lovable.

I am a lover of both thin and thick dread extensions. There are pluses and minuses to them both, but depending on how you want to wear them and the look you’re going after they can both be great. So let’s start with thin dreads; I’m talking super thin like this:

Ash2

These are actually wool yarn dreads that were hand spun for me by LIVEtheHAPPY of Etsy. Major plus of thin dreads is that they will lie more naturally than thick dreads. There’s not a problem of them sticking out here or there because they are more flexible (wool yarn dreads even more so flexible than thin synths). You can toss your head around a bunch and the thin dreads will lie back down easily. They are great for a more natural look and wild colors too. Don’t think that thin = less volume either. You just have to stuff more on your head. For instance, the wool yarn dreads I’m wearing above are installed 2 at a time, so that I’m wearing somewhere just over 100 DEs, but only roughly 50 sections. That’s how I install thin yarn dreads all the time. Quick + lots of volume. They can be put up into buns and ponytails easily as well. They can even be braided together in sections for a Mohawk look:

OB3

The downside? Well because they’re more flexible it can be harder to achieve really big, high styles. It can be done, it just takes more work and time that’s all.

Now let’s talk thick dreads. Here I am wearing some:

M4034S-4211

Thick dreads are great because they go up into insane styles so easily. A few rubber bands and you can have horns; case in point:

M4034S-4211

They’re also great because it doesn’t take as long to get lots of volume. Each dread can be put into a pretty big section of hair. The down sides here are that they can get a bit out of control and not lie right. This usually resolves itself after a few days of wear once the roots loosen a bit, but it can still be a bit awkward. They’re also harder to sleep with since the individual dreads are bigger and therefore not as easy to move around/squish. Weight, especially with long, thick, synth dreads, can be problematic for people as well.

All in all, it just depends on what you want. I’d suggest trying both if you’ve got the money to spend. Myself, I wear long, thin, wool yarn dreads the most because these days I’m not much into high, spiked, big hair styles. When I do wear thicker dreads, they’re usually short so the weight doesn’t bother me. If you’re new to all this, I’d say go down the middle with some sharpie thick dreads to start; then you can decide what you want more—more natural, lay down dreads or more spiky, stick up dreads. What’s your preference, vet dread extensionists? And why?

Contests, used, discounts, cost of materials. Always an opportunity for reduced cost hair.

For some reason, I notice that a lot of hair enthusiasts are often skint. Me included. Not sure why; maybe because most of us are just normal folks working for a living and life’s mishaps often keep us down. Though it does make me wonder why more well off folks don’t like dread extensions… hmph. Anyways, off point. If you are struggling to get your hard working hands on some dreads, I want you to know that with enough digging, luck, time, and compromise you can get dreads at discount prices.

I’d like to emphasize that last word in the list: compromise. When trying to buy anything at discount prices you’re probably not going to get exactly what you’re looking for. It’s great to have a dream set of dreads in mind, but it’s also good to aim for something close-ish to that dream that’s the right price. Be flexible with length, thickness, texture and especially color.

So how do you find these reduce cost dreads? Pay close attention to the various Facebook groups that cater to dread extensions. Some of these English language pages are: Dreadlock Kingdom, Synthetic Dread Society, Dreadlocks Appreciation and also checking out Alternative type trade/sell pages.

On these pages second hand dreads will pop up often, and they are roughly ¾ to ½ the price of new dreads dependent on how many times they’ve been worn, if they are resealed/washed, and the original maker. Also, individual makers hosting sales will often advertise such sales on these pages; JUMP on these sales fast as makers usually limit the number of kits they’re willing to do at reduced prices. And dread makers will also advertise their contests for free dreads on these pages as well; we’ll talk a little more about this later.

Another longer, more time intensive way to get dreads at cost of materials is to watch the up and coming talent; many times when a dread artist is first starting out they will offer kits at cost of materials plus shipping. Of course, they are also new comers to the hair world—extra attention must be paid to the photos they post of their work, how seasoned vets respond to those photos, and lastly checking up on the newb’s selling/buying reputation. It’s not so hard to find out the reputation; ask for the new seller’s Etsy name or eBay name and go through their feedback on both. If the feedback is spotty, STAY AWAY! If it looks stellar then the person is probably trustworthy. But, keep in mind that a new seller may burn you, so be sure to always pay with Paypal (NOT as a gift) and do not hesitate to report them within the 45 day time period should you believe something fishy is going on.

A note on contests. Some contests are run like raffles; buy tickets, the more you buy the higher your chance to win. Some contests are completely free and randomly picked by number. Some contests are based on photographs or descriptions. This last type of contest is not “easy” to win, but as a maker that has hosted one I’ll give you some pointers. First of all, dread makers are by nature creative artists so you want to wow them on a creative level. If it’s a photo contest, that happy slappy photo of a rainbow over a lake with butterflies probably isn’t going to win; and even though I don’t feel like I should have to say this, sending in a photo of another dread maker’s work will only piss off the dread artist running the contest. Find a photo that is 100% unique and also tell the dread artist WHY you chose it. If it’s a “dream dread kit” type written contest don’t think that an entry for “red and black swirled dreads” is going to win. That may be what you want, but that isn’t going to tickle the creativity of an artist. Remember, you’re not placing a custom order here; your inspiring an artist to exercise their own creative muscles. So don’t say “20 DE sharpie thick dreads in red, black, and burgundy that are 20 inches long.” Give them a description “I want the teal tentacles of a sea witch that curl around her gold, scaly tail.” Give the dread artist a story, a photograph in words. That will get you at least put in the “considered” pile rather than tossed away with the “rejects.”

Yes, dreads at reduced cost are possible. It will take longer, it will not be exactly what you want, and it will take work, but it can be done. Just pay attention to the dread pages, compromise on your wants, amp up creativity in those contests, and keep a wary eye out for new makers.

M4034S-4211My very first self made dreads; also a way to avoid high costs!

Dreads as part of self or just a hair style?

Now this debate will definitely take on different meaning depending on if we’re talking natural dreads or extended dreads. I do not have natural dreads, so I can only speak from the perspective of extensions. I do invite conversation and commentary from those of you with natural dreadies, or the combo of natural with extensions. So, are my dreads part of my inner self, or are they just a hairstyle? I’m not sure, to be honest. I know that the proposition of not wearing them ever again (or at least for extended amounts of years) makes me feel as though I would be losing a part of me. So I guess if I look at it that way, yes, my dread extensions are a part of me. However, if for some reason (job, illness, sudden zombie apocalypse) did occur and I could not wear them, I would go on. It wouldn’t be the death of me or anything, it wouldn’t stop me from living life; I’d just feel like a bit of a poser. I’m not being 100% honest with the world if my outside doesn’t match my fabulous inside. And for me, that’s what dread extensions are; they are an extension of the fabulous, sparkly, unicorn I am inside. I suppose then that it is more than just a hairstyle, for me. I’ve been making/wearing some kind of alt hair extensions since 2002. That was around the time that I went through a major interior change as well. Perhaps another major interior change will happen again for me, and the dread extensions won’t be as important later on down the road. But for now, yes, they are a part of me and not just a fashion statement. In fact, I’ve never been much of one to be interested in “fashion” anyways; I don’t care if dread extensions are popular or not, I just want to wear them to express my inner self. Do you feel like your extensions or natural dreads are part of your inner self? Or have you chosen them because of the fashion statement they make? Or maybe a combo of both?

CRU2

Me wearing my Cruella inspired dreads; yes, I wore them to Disney World.

Faux-hawks and dreads: brilliant or not brave enough?

A lot of ladies and gents that wear dreads regularly also choose to shave a bit of their head here of there to make installs more comfortable or for fashion reasons. But some people choose to go another route: enter the faux-hawk. Here’s a picture of me with one. Question is, is this a brilliant hairstyle or is the wearer not brave enough to cut it all off? I have about 1 inch of my sides shaved at the hairline, see here. I dye it regularly to match my dreads, but I keep the rest of my hair about 10-12 inches long, and undyed. Basically, I don’t want to kill my hair with dye because I like my natural hair, and shaving off large amounts would only lead me to being very upset later that my hair was gone. So I go faux-hawk from time to time. But there has been criticism out there that faux-hawks are for the weak and afraid. Maybe I am afraid of the commitment? Lots of people say “it’s only hair, it’ll grow back.” But me, I have a bald spot right at the front of my hairline on the right side, so I believe it might just not grow back. In fact, at any time more of my hair could mysteriously fall out leaving bald patches because my body obviously has the ability (I saw the doctor, and he warned me of future bald patches appearing.) Should people criticize others for not taking the plunge with the clippers? Does it really matter, faux or real hawk?