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Friday, December 14, 2012

My DIY 18th century wig stand Part 1

It's all very well having a lovely 18th century wig but how do you keep it in good order and not get it messed up?
Wigs really need to be on a stand to support them so they keep their shape. And under cover so they don't get dusty.
I could of course use the usual polystyrene head (which is what one of my wigs is currently reposing on) or metal/plastic wig stand but really, my 18th century style wig deserves a nice 18th century style wig stand.
I've come across a variety of styles whilst researching. 
There is the porcelain/pottery style which you see in the opening credits of the movie 'Dangerous Liaisons' and which you could probably replicate in paper mache. But that would take me way too long to make and I don't know that I'd be happy about paint and sealing products being in contact with the wig.
Then there is the wooden type that barrister's still use for their wigs but they cost the earth.
I've seen many variations on this type, painted, varnished, some with wooden mushroom style tops and some with a padded fabric head piece you can pin into to keep the wig stable. I have wondered if some weren't in fact hat stands rather than wig stands but who knows.
There is also the carved wooden head type which give the wig a good stable structure. 
Others were made of linen and there were even hollow leather ones (pictured) which had a little door in them so tools or accoutrements could be kept inside. Looks a bit too much like the Man in the Iron Mask for me.
I like the idea of a wooden wig stand with a padded top so I've decided to make my own.
And I particularly like this one with the green velvet top but would like the head part to be bigger - so it provides more substantial support for the whole wig rather than just the top of it. 
So really I want a cross between a carved wooden head style and a padded top.
Wig stands usually have a reasonable size base to keep them stable and vary in height but since I don't want my ringlets getting all tangled I decided I'd like one that's around 12 to 15 inches tall.
I could contact local wood turners but I'm a bit impatient.
So the question was what could I use to make a wig stand? 
I thought about fancy turned wooden stair railings but then it occurred to me that a wooden candle holder might be a good option.  A wooden lamp base might work too but a candle stick was much easier to find.
So herewith is my soon-to-be wig stand. 
It's actually quite a bright aqua blue colour which might need taming down a little.
I'm thinking cream linen or a Toile de Jouy fabric for the padded top. 
I haven't seen any extant wig stands that used Toile de Jouy but thought it would look delightful without being anachronistic (even if it is unlikely).
Oh and by the way, there were more elaborate styles of wig stand like this George III era one with its own little drawers. 
I am still not sure how the wig sat on them but they look like they'd have been more expensive. 
I've yet to see a picture of a wig on one of these stands so if you find one please let me know!
I'll show you my progress next post!


  1. I love this idea! So much prettier than those styrofoam heads, which I too have (unfortunately). Can't wait to see the finished one!

    1. Thanks Caroline. I was going to get a few more bits and bobs to complete the project today but half the family seems to have a touch of something unpleasant including me so I will have a quiet day and perhaps I will rethink what I need and find I don't need to buy anything else after all!

  2. What an interesting post! Love the wig stands which I have not seen before!
    And - brilliant idea to create your own one with the wooden candle stick!

    Best wishes for a lovely 3. Advent Sunday,

    1. Thankyou for the kind wishes and words.
      Well we shall see Karin whether I can translate the idea into reality. The head bit is annoying me at the moment but I shall overcome! I got sidetracked today with curling ostrich feathers. Need to focus! : ) Joy to you and yours!