Apart from saran, alpaca and mohair, the skinny scalps are another option that is available for your dolls. Christine is the inventor of the concept and very specific technique. She makes gorgeous hair with unique colors and many Blythe customizers use her skinnies for their personal use and also for customs with the intention to sell. Many thanks to Christine for sharing with us how it all started!
Hi Christine! Could you define your technique?
I consider my product to be a lambskin weft. The lambskin is securely attached to a cool-cat scalp using brads. I have many colors of lambskin, and I will be making them for a very long time! It’s an absolutely wonderful and more affordable way to get a beautiful scalp for Blythe, and very durable too!
Photos: Unicornmine. Olive is not going anywhere without her skinny!
Why did you start to do that specific technique?
When I first started collecting Blythe, I found I was really partial to the girls with wild manes of hair. I did a lot of research and bought a re-rooting needle. I was also going to buy hair for a re-root, however, the mohair suppliers were out of stock and wouldn’t have anything for a while. I was also considering trying to do a weft. I was a little frightened though, because I’d heard about it matting, or going bald, and quickly knew that this wasn’t really the hair for me either. So I thought of lambskin. I was fortunate that several years prior, I’d attended porcelain doll classes and was making reproduction antique dolls as well as modern styled dolls. On a whim, I signed up for a workshop at a doll show for how to make wigs out of lambskin for porcelain dolls. It’s important to understand that the measuring for the technique I was taught is completely different for modern or antiques than for Blythe. I also had 2 pieces of criteria in my mind that I had to meet, to make this work for Blythe. First was that the hair not encroach on the pull strings. Second, it was important to have the rim of scalp so that it had the look of a “factory” hairline.
The next step was to contact a lambskin supplier, and try to figure out what my requirements would be. It was quite costly and wasteful to try to figure out the type of lambskin would be appropriate for my needs. I knew that I couldn’t use lambskin with seams, due to the unpredictability of the hair around them or it was too uneven a texture. I had to pay a premium to get only the best and most even textured hair. I’ve had many suppliers refuse to work with me because of my strict requirements. Finally, I was lucky enough to contact a supplier of lambskin here in the US. Susan of mohairwig was very helpful, we were able to talk at length about what I needed and why. I eventually gave up trying to explain the way Blythe’s head worked, and sent her a stock doll. Susan was able to make a pattern for me and finally I had the biggest piece of the puzzle.
How did you learn to do it?
After MANY hours of trials, including crochet string, dental floss, thick cotton string, glue, wire, staples, it became immediately apparent that I needed create the process for making a skinny scalp. I was on the road to a breakthrough, and finally and after a lot of fuss, I knew that I’d figured out exactly how to make my scalps, and then I was given the perfect name for my product by Valerie, aka Val Plays with Toys on Flickr! She and I were chatting on Yahoo! Messenger, and she very cleverly named my product! I thought it was perfect! At that point, I traded several out there so that I could see if it worked for other’s needs as well… The feedback was wonderful! I’d definitely found a niche which would allow me to be in the hobby, and provide others a viable option for hair!
Photo: G♥Baby. Zella the vamp, custom in progress with a skinny scalp.
What are the differences between lambskin and goatskin? Are they visible?
There are 2 major differences between lambskin and goatskin. The biggest difference is the texture of the hair. Goatskin is not as densely plugged with hair as the Lambskin can be. And Goatskin is a longer length than lambskin. There are suppliers that sell lambskin which is 4-6 inches long, but that is usually only sold in white. Goatskin is also quite a bit more expensive for me to buy, because of my strict criteria.
What are the differences between them and alpaca or mohair?
All 3 to me are absolutely wonderful! Though, you might expect to pay hundreds more for the look of alpaca or mohair than what my product costs. In the beginning, I would make them up and then realize that the lambskin wasn’t up to part with what I felt my hair should look like and they were then destroyed. I am also willing to accept returns on my skinnies if it doesn’t meet the client’s purpose, within reason. Goatskin is much harder to find. And also very costly for the type that fits my purpose. For now, I’m getting better also at dying different colors, creating even more of an OOAK feel to my product. And I’d love to see if it meets the needs of those that are skeptical about my product!
Photo: Blythesighted. Poppy and Bindi – Unicornmine skinny scalps.
How long does it take to complete one skinny scalp?
It takes several hours from start to finish, it really depends on how quick the lambskin dries during the process of wetting the skin so that it’s more malleable letting it dry between points of the process and then reworking again to make sure the seams are flat as can be and that the hair is sitting at the right angle. Then the scalp is given a final wash to remove any residual dyes and it is towel dried, and then shaken and put on a dowel and left to dry overnight. The next morning, I have a beautiful scalp to shake the curls loose on. The process is virtually the same for my goatskin, except, I try to take a lot of care not to really wet the scalp, so that it isn’t stretched out of shape. Also, the process is quite a day longer on the lambskin that I hand dye.
Photo: G♥Baby. “A different supplier had “Calico” lambskin in stock because she sometimes makes art dolls. I LOVED it, so I made it up and was contacted by Gina. The custom that she made around that hair is one of my all time favorites!”
Thank you again very much, Christine, for your time and the inside story of the skinny scalps. You definitely created a beautiful new way to make hair for Blythe and we all know that our favorite doll deserves the best! I am not surprised at all that more and more customizers choose your products for their customs.
Photo: Frankie Darling. Frankie Darling custom with a Unicornmine white skinny.