The Wigmaker
by  Brianna and Gabriela

Wigs were worn by everybody in Colonial times to either cover grey hair, for fashion, or to cover baldness. There were many varieties of wigs including; a ramilee wig, which was worn by, soldiers during the war. This was the most common one. Another type was called a campaign wig, worn by travelers. Ordinary people wore a Sunday Buckle or a Major Bob. People with little money as well as apprentices, wore a Minor Bob. Some African American enslaved people became barbers for white men. They learned to powder their master's wigs as well.

There were many materials and tools used to make wigs. Some raw materials were hair from animals and people. Dye was used to make colors like brown, pale yellow, auburn, chestnut, grey, white, black, and grizzle (a mixture of black and white.) The wig makers learned how to use specific tools by learning it as apprentices.

Some tools they used were:

  • Comb - to comb
  • Curling iron - to curl
  • Hackle - a comb through which hair was passed in getting it ready for the wig
  • Weaving frame - a frame holding silk threads that hair was woven into strips for the wig
  • Wig Block - head-shaped block that held the net underneath the wig-created according to the measurements of each customer
  • Wig points - nails in the wig block that held the wig in place

In order to be a wigmaker you needed to know how to use the weaving tools, how to weave hair, and how to do a good job teaching apprentices.

  Click on a trade below to read more about it.

Source: Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Wigmakers. New York: Benchmark, 2000, c1965.

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