Bald Caps…sigh…what I learned.

After a lengthy absence, HELLO!

I see my last post was in regards to a Trish West play and here I am again! Most recently we put on a production of Skin Deep at The Arts Project, here in London, Ontario, Canada.

We received some amazing reviews!!

Theatre in London ( link to review

and Donald’s Dish ( link to review

While the show got rave reviews (well deserved!!!) I had the most frustrating time of life on this play. First was the catastrophe of losing my tech rehearsal. I knew I needed that on but I didn’t realize how much I NEEDED that run. My usual protocol on productions is to do my initial run (with makeup) on tech night so as to see how the lighting affects the makeup. We didn’t have the lights hung in time, so no tech run. Trusting that my premade purchased bald cap would work, I went home. Big mistake. BIG.

Now while I didn’t intend this to be the cap going forward this is what ended up in the photo on the review :(


Bald cap…not happy with this one.

So what did I learn from my mistakes…(I do hope you all find this endearing and not a sign of failure lol – like I did all week :p )

1. Woochie premade bald caps are one sized fits all yes….but that is NOT the size of an adult lady! The nape of the neck is wildly smaller on a female than the premade one!

2. When making your own bald cap (liquid latex on a styrofoam lady head covered in layers of Gesso) you have to ensure that there are no air bubbles AT ALL!! They cause weak spots that will tear when you try to apply the cap. Especially at the neck.

3. Cheap hair gel contains ALCOHOL and alcohol is the enemy of Spirit Gum. UGH did I learn this one. Days 2 and 3 of the show failed due to this step. By the halfway mark in the show the sweat from her head had mixed with the alcohol and created a 2 inch wide swath of gross on her neck that I could not clean off and reglue in the 5 dark minutes I had backstage :( Sad face.

4. On the last day, yes last day….I had it right. Finally. I found a great tutorial online that said to use hairspray vs the gel.

So we did this:

- used a wig cap on the hair to hold it down, hairspray and a fine comb to brush up the baby hairs and flyaways…on DRY hair. DRY. very very important for stage.

- painted spirit gum to skin side AND to the cap in small sections, wait for glue to become tacky and then stick down. The secret here is using a damp washcloth to press the cap down and help it adhere, no air bubbles this way!!!

- cut the excess from the cap in random ways so as not to have a clean edge (blends to skin better) and make sure you leave enough forehead exposed so the actor can use said forehead to emote…..weird when only half the forehead wrinkles LOL

-keep the nape of the neck longer than the one inch suggested. I left it 2 inches and used a double stripe of glue to stick it down. By the end of the first show the latex had lifted a bit on the bottom of the neck (she covers the cap with scarves, a wig, etc so it gets jostled) but the double glue layer kept it on firmly

Thanks to Derek Grillo, of Art Deco Cosmetics who saved my butt. On day 2 I was a complete ball of panic…and in a full day workshop for Art Deco. I was trying to speak to the local costume shop on breaks and to talk to Trish about what she needed to buy and Derek (Amazing MUA  from Germany – lead MUA for Art Deco)  mentioned that he used to do theatre back in the day!! I begged for his help and he saved the day! Because after all the drama of making the cap work, I still needed to colour the damn thing to make it match Trish’s multitoned skin and freckles and pink undertone….sigh…again.  Art Deco has a new product this season for legs :)

downloadAt Derek’s suggestion, I tried this as a makeup to cover the bald cap and it worked flawlessly! A dose of the spray, a little bit of buffing, some translucent powder and voila! She looked bald…finally!

There you have it. My long winded trial and error story of making  a lady bald for a play. Generally women wear their hair down the neck and out of the cap, of course costuming didn’t work for that (pyjamas) so all the hair had to be contained with no weird bumps…I think in the end we got there.

At this time, I don’t have any photos of the successful cap…I’ll post one after Saturday or better yet…

One chance left to see the show (and all of my efforts lol) on stage in St Thomas, Ontario this Saturday. All proceeds go to Wellspring London so we better see a packed house!