Monday, May 27, 2013

The Unending Quest for Mermaid Hair

     As much as I love mermaids, I've come to realize that the only part of mermaid-hood that really appeals to me is the hair. All the other stuff? The underwater tomfoolery and running away from sharks, I could take or leave. The sitting on a rock, singing and brushing my hair business combines two of the things I suck at most in life. Plus, most of my makeup isn't waterproof. But the hair, I'll always covet. In my continuing quest to look as though I just washed ashore at the tide, I made a quick hair accessory that can really take you from 0 to Ariel in 15 minutes. And you can wear it a ton of different ways, so none of the other sea critters can accuse you of being a one trick fishy. Let's dive in (pun intended, but afterwards somewhat regretted) and I'll show you how to make it and how to style it!

     You only need five things for this project: some pretty beads, a clear elastic, needle and thread, and a bobby pin. I highly recommend using a higher quality bobby pin than the kind you can buy at the drugstore for this, since those tend to lose their grip after a while. The ones I use are from Sally's and are called "MetaGrip Premium Bob Pins," which amuses me for a number of stupid reasons, including that "metagrip" sounds like the power of an especially philosophical super-villain.

     To put together your accessory, first you'll need to double up some thread (or use a thicker variety) for strength, then tie the ends together onto the bobby pin. Just eyeball the length you'll need for your own hair, but err on the side of longer. I should note that if you have especially willful hair, you could use a snap clip instead, though it will be harder to hide the clip when you're wearing it. I find that if you simply cross the bobby pin with a second one when you put it in your hair, it won't go anywhere. 

     Next, thread your needle with the double thread, but don't tie it; just leave a tail. Then begin beading! I mixed together several sizes and colors of beads and picked them up randomly to get a varied pattern. Mermaids don't have time to plan these things out, they just want to put sparkly shit in their hair!

     When you get to the length you're looking for, wrap the thread around a clear elastic and run the needle back up underneath the last bead, then loop the thread around and back through the bead again. Tie a nice sturdy little knot, dabbing some glue on it for good measure. When the glue dries, you can tuck the knot right up underneath the next bead to hide it. 

     Using a bobby pin on one end and an elastic on the other makes this accessory super versatile. Here's five ideas to get you started:

1. Wear it as a headband. Section off the top half of your hair and clip it out of the way. Secure the bobby pin at the back of your head, wrap the beads around the front of your head, then slide a second bobby pin through the elastic and pin it in the back. Let the top half of your hair down on top of it to hide the pins. 

2. Decorate a bun. Pull your hair into a bun. I like to make my buns by pulling all my hair up above my head as though I'm going to put it into a very high ponytail, then twisting the hair until it starts to coil in on itself. Arrange into a bun and pin as needed until it feels secure. Pin the beads into the bun at any point, then wrap them around and over the bun, using bobby pins to create any angles that don't want to happen naturally. Finally, hook a bobby pin through the elastic and pin into or underneath the bun, hiding the pin and the elastic. 

3. Work into a large braid. Pin the beads at the top of your head or behind your ear, depending on how long you've made yours. Make sure you pin them underneath some hair so that the top end won't be visible. Cross a second pin over the first to help it stay in place while you braid, then go to town with the braid of your choice: regular braids, fishtail braids, rope braids -- whatever tickles your fancy -- and secure with the elastic. If you have extra length in the beads at the end, you can wrap them around the elastic to hide it.

4. Or try a smaller braid. I tried out a medium-sized, messy Dutch braid and really liked the way it turned out. You could also try braiding the beads into your hair starting from behind one ear, then wrapping it around your head for an embellished milkmaid braid. 

5. Dress up a standard ponytail. This one couldn't be easier: put your hair in a ponytail using the elastic, then wrap the beads around the base of the ponytail until you come to the end, and pin! 

     There are so many ways to play around with this simple little accessory. And it's so easy and quick to make, you could whip up a few in different colors to suit your mood or match your outfit -- or your tailfins.

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