Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dreadlocks and a Spider, OH MY!

In my last entry I had mentioned that there were some dancers in my group who wanted me to do a tutorial on how to do dread falls. These are mainly used for bellydancing, Halloween and cosplay. For people who may not have heard of what a dread fall is, it is natural hair, synthetic hair, or yarn styled to look like dreadlocks that are placed in the hair to create a unique look. I have been asked by my dance instructor to do a workshop and I will be doing one at some point in the near future. We both decided it would be best to do one at a local Hafla event that would feature mini workshops. So if you are in the Central Valley area of California, keep an ear out for when this Hafla event will take place. It may not be until some time next year, but I will be posting about it as soon as it’s planned and finalized.

When you go looking through pictures of bellydancers online, most photos you find of dancers with dreadlocks are actually dancers who have dread falls placed in their hair to give them the look of having real dreadlocks. You will rarely find a dancer with real dreadlocks as there is a process one has to follow in using their real hair, not to mention the maintenance involved. Secondly, bellydancing does allow the option of doing something different with your hair and look for each performance. Which if you have dreadlocks, this does narrow down the options of hair styles you can achieve. A lot of the time, dancers will use different colors of these falls to create an unusual look and cover their natural hair color with decorative flowers, headbands and scarves. These decorations add an exotic look and create a more alluring image aside from hiding any natural hair that is exposed. It would be odd to have your natural hair color exposed when using a color of natural/synthetic hair that is different from your own. If you do not wish to go through the trouble of covering all of your natural hair with all these decorations, you also have the option of matching the color of your fall to the color of your hair so you can only wear a few decorated pieces to hide where the hair is attached.

In making these falls, it’s best to do research and understand what materials would work best to achieve the look and texture you want, not to mention what materials will be easier to work with. For me, it is best if natural hair or synthetic hair is used as opposed to yarn, especially if you want the fall to look real. I will not be covering how to do yarn falls in this tutorial as there are plenty of instructions out there. Not so much for hair. I had to pretty much do a nonstop search for natural or synthetic hair falls for about 3 weeks before I came across one video on one way these falls can be made. So after seeing how difficult it was to find simple instructions on making the falls, I decided to share one way in how to make them.

Once you understand the basics of making these dread falls, you can begin to style them in creative ways to make each piece unique. You may even come up with a more easier way to create these that you may want to share with others who are looking to make their own hair pieces without paying so much for them. Currently, the price range of these dread falls is anywhere from $50- $180 on average. Making your own will only cost you $10-15 dollars at the most and a few hours of work.

The time invested in making one piece will vary depending on how much hair you will use and if you are adding beads or ribbons. As you become more practiced and fall into a rhythm, the process speeds up. For now, when you first start it would be a good idea to expect this to take a few hours without adding any decorations to the dreadlocks.

Items needed:

1 Hair rubberband (A ribbon or elastic band can be used instead)
1 package of natural or synthetic hair
Spray bottle
Rat tail comb
Flat iron
Hand/Dish Towel (Optional)
Clear Nail Polish (Optional)


1) Take the package of hair and feed half of it through the rubberband. When you do this, be sure to have the rubberband centered in the middle of the hair.

2) Take a chunk of hair and braid the hair about an inch so that the rubberband is secured in this chunk that will be come your first dreadlock strand.

3) Once you have made a braid about an inch long, take the rat tail comb and start teasing the hair just below the braid. You will be teasing the hair in an upward motion towards the braid on all sides of the chunk of hair for the full length of hair. You will want to get this knotted so you can keep the braid in place.

4) When you are done teasing, start twisting the hair from top to bottom. While you are doing this, tuck some of the “rough” areas into the twist so you have as even of a twist as possible.

5) At this time, you can go about this next step in 2 ways:

You can spray the hair with water until it is damp, cover the hair with the towel and apply the flat iron along the towel where it is covering the hair. This helps protect some flat iron surfaces depending on the model you have and/or it helps protect the natural/synthetic hair if you want to prevent burning/melting the hair.

The other way is to spray the hair with water and directly apply the flat iron without the towel. Only do step if you don’t care about the flat iron you are using or the model you are using has a wet to dry feature. I apply the flat iron directly to the hair as my flat iron has a wet to dry feature.

You will hold the flat iron in place for about 10-30 seconds depending on if you covered the hair with a towel or not. You will do this the entire way down the length of hair. If you accidentally melt some places of the dread (if you are using synthetic hair), don’t worry about it as you can’t tell from far away and it will help hold the hair so it won’t come undone.

6) When you come to the end, you can do 2 things to make sure the ends of the hair do not unravel. If you are using synthetic hair, you can melt the ends with the flat iron. If you have issues melting the ends, you can use the clear nail polish on the tips. You can also use the nail polish on the ends of the natural hair as well if the heat from the flat iron doesn’t keep the hair styled.

** Please note that you will have to do occasional touch ups on the ends, but for
the most part, the hair stays very well.

You will repeat the above steps for each dreadlock strand you work on until all of the hair is secured and styled on the rubberband. If you choose to use a ribbon or an elastic band instead of a rubberband, these will allow you to tie the dread falls to your hair. The only down side is that it makes it a little more difficult to work with the hair and making sure it stays on either the ribbon or elastic band. You’ll have open ends and if the falls slip off, you’ll have to work to get them back on, not to mention, you will also have the ends to hide once the fall is tied on. But you’ll need to go with what will work best for you.

Later on, after you get the hang of making dread falls, you can add beads to a few dread strands to dress up the piece or you can use ribbons to wrap and braid around a few strands as well (great look for renaissance faires, especially if you use leather straps/thongs).

I do plan on making a video tutorial at some point to post on this blog so you can see each step of the process and to show some of the dread falls that I had already made as examples. I just need to make sure I have enough space and a good setup so you can see what I am doing without obstruction of view.

And now for a Halloween treat. I've had the pleasure of seeing this awesome dancer at festival in Bakersfield CA for a bellydance festival. This dance has been requested by many and I wish to share it with you. Please enjoy Marjahni's Itsy Bitsy Spider!

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