Pool Noodle Marie Antoinette Wig

Steps for making an 1770s Marie Antoinette "Pouf" wig from a $1 baseball cap, 3 pool noodles, some foam curlers and cool melt glue.

Tara Maginnis in her Pool Noodle Wig Creation in her room at Costume College 2014:

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This wig was partially based on images from this book: __________________________________________________________________

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18th Century Hair & Wig Styling: History & Step-by-Step Techniques by Kendra Van Cleave which I used as a reference for the pool noodle wig. Even when making such a fantasy object as a pool noodle "Pouf" work is made much easier by sourcing a book with good research. Kendra's book, while dealing with wigs and hairdos made with real or realistic hair, is relevant to this pool noodle project because it #1 documents real styles from the 18th Century, and more importantly, #2 she shows them from all angles, providing an easy blueprint for arranging your foam "curls" in a way that will look "right" from all angles.

You will need:

Rubber coated work gloves like these or these.

Low-temp or 2-temp glue gun that can be set to "low"

Clear multi-temp melt glue sticks

2-3 pool noodles

Package of yellow foam curlers

Baseball cap

Skinny sharp snap-off utility knife like these.

Craft Scissors

Some random fake flowers, ribbons, decorations, etc to taste (and for convenient hiding of mistakes.)

Making of the Wig: Begin by de-billing a baseball cap with your craft scissors. Put a glove on your non-dominant hand.

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Lo-temp hot glue the bill down the back of the cap by either side of the back adjustment flap to make an adjustable "wig cap" base.

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Slice half a noodle into lengthwise thirds with a thin utility knife, extended out 2". Do remember to wear your non-dominant hand glove for all this.

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Shave the ends down (with the knife extended 3") as shown.

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Slice half a noodle into lengthwise quarters with a thin utility knife, extended out 2".

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Shave the ends down with the knife extended 3" as shown.

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Low temp glue the shaved ends of the 1/3 noodle pieces to the center front of the de-billed cap. Do remember to wear your non-dominant hand glove for all this so you are less likely to get burns.

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Check the back of the "wig" and see where you can taper the noodles towards the center back. Here the center noodle strip is shaved to the length needed to make the height of the "pouf" curve.

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Then the two side 1/3rd noodles are glued together on their edges to form a wide strip.

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Then the strip is shaved and glued to the former "bill" that has previously been made into a back piece. (Don't glue the piece to the little adjuster strip that is in the back gap as this prevents adjusting the wig for comfort, and makes the back of the wig dimple, and be even warmer than it is normally.) Then the center strip is glued on top of the broad strip.

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Begin adding the remaining parts of the 1/3 strips and the 1/4 strips to the sides of the wig to complete the "pouf". Tuck ends to the inside of the original band of strips as you go from the top down.

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After you get 1/2 way down, roughing out the basic shape of the pouf, you will need to add smaller shaved bits to the sides to bridge the gap from the edge of the cap to the middle of the pouf. This is where it really helps to have an historical reference to help you decide the way to sub-slice those pieces and place them into the design. This is really just a matter of eyeballing the gaps, slicing, gluing and filling in as best you can. Each wig is a little different around here depending on height and overall design, so I can't run you through the "steps" since they are just random, go as looks best, filler. Remember also, if you know your design is going to have curls covering a section, this is where you can fill in with the ugly little leftovers of the noodle for putting in structure that lies beneath like lathe in a plaster wall.

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Here I add bits that go down over the "sideburn" area of the face. If you ever want to make one of these with a more realistic look on the hairline, after completing the wig to the level I have done, then slice lots of tiny strips of the foam, and carefully glue (with Ultra-Cool melt glue & Gun) them to the edge of the wig while it is sitting on the actor's head, covering and blending over the natural hairline. DO NOT get glue in the actor's hair. While Ultra-cool glue wont burn them, pulling off the wig if it is glued into their hair will please them less than a bikini-wax.

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You are not hallucinating by the way, there are two different colored yellow pool noodles in this wig. It keeps the look more interesting, but you must be careful to use your noodle colors symmetrically so you won't have a wig that is mainly one color, with a clot of a different color in just one area. Blend the different color throughout in symmetrical streaks for best results, or use the lighter color for the outer most "high" points like a highlight.

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Now for the really fun part. (Not a joke, this is fun and easy unless your blade is dull.) Do remember to wear your non-dominant hand glove for all this. Set your knife at 1.5"-2" depending on noodle thickness, then spiral cut a curl into a section of noodle. If you are having trouble doing this, snap off 2" of blade and move to fresh blade and it should cut easier.

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Stick on some curls:

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Put in more filler where the bigger curls will hide the rough "lathe" structure:

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Spiral cut your big curls:

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Stick on some big curls:

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OK, weirdly this is the tough part: Pull out your bag of little foam curlers. Remove them from the plastic bits, and carefully snip them into spiral ringlets with your craft scissors. They will fight you, but don't try the utility knife unless you want lots of cuts in you, and really nasty ones in the curlers. Just slowly snip them into a spiral with the scissors.

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Now you can use them as filler in between gaps in the big curls where needed, where your design requires small curls, and in places that are looking a bit "off" where a curl would effectively hide a flaw.

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Inevitably, some place will visually need either disguise because of some minor visual "ooops!", or simply need visual punctuation with flowers, ribbons or other decorations. Glue them on as your final step.

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The Finished Wig. Note you also see on here a whiff of colored hair spray which I used in my CoCo 2014 demo on Dollar Store Costume Accessories in order to not poison my class with using real Spray Paint indoors. Using a little bit of carefully applied spray paint "shadows" in orange or pink to a foam wig gives it that extra dimension on stage, and can stop the color of the noodles looking so flat.

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