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How to make a bald cap - SFX theatrical

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Picture of How to make a bald cap - SFX theatrical
Bald caps are used in a variety of theatrical situations, not least to make someone look bald!

They are also often used as the basis for other make up SFX effects and for headpieces, or to cover up the hair when making face and head life casts.

Bald caps are easy to make, and the materials aren't too difficult to assemble. You will need:

Liquid Latex
A polystyrene, glass or fibreglass head (used for hat displays and similar).
Some cheap bath sponges
DVD marker pens
PVA Glue (if using a polystyrene head).
Talcum powder.

Without doubt the most important, and possibly most difficult to acquire is the head. Glass ones are the best but they are expensive. Mannequin fibreglass ones can sometimes be found at car boot sales or bankrupt stock, but you can use a polystyrene one perfectly well. These are cheap and readily available on the net. I got my mannequin head for nothing from a closing down sale, and the polystyrene one cost me a fiver with postage.

 
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Step 1: Preparing your head

Picture of Preparing your head
One thing you will notice when getting a head is the large variety of cranium sizes! Below are my mannequin head and my styrene one, note the difference. Latex is very elastic (they make condoms out of it) so you could just use the smallest one and have done with it. However if your model has a big head or a lot of hair, and has to wear the cap for any length of time it makes sense to try and get a reasonable fit to start with.

If you can only get a polystyrene head then you should consider preparing it for use. You can make bald caps using the head as is, but eventually the soft surface of the head will start to break down and lumps will get pulled out of it.

You need to give it A LOT of coats of PVA glue to seal and strengthen it. I took 3 weeks and 25 thin coats of PVA, allowing each one to dry in between. This gives a really tough and non-porous 'skin' to the head so I can use it for all sorts of work. Obviously it won't take heat or serious chemicals which will both melt it.

Once you have a sealed head it is advisable to mark it. This will allow for good feathered edges to your bald cap. Decide if you want an all over cap (which must be cut back), or if you are happy that the ears can be left out.

Mark the head using the DVD pens (I use different colours for each edge) such that the first line covers the entire area of the cap, the second is about 1/4" (six millimetres) inside the first, the third is 1/4" inside that and the fourth 1/4" inside that. See the picture for a visual guide.

Your head is now ready.

whitejaxon1 year ago
how can you make this with homeMade Materials i need one for halloween and it would be nice to know how to make one for stage crew also
marshon (author)  whitejaxon1 year ago
Er, it's a latex bald cap so you need liquid latex to make it. I don't know of ANY 'homemade materials' that have the same properties as liquid latex.
Latex is widely available though
all good i can still use this for stage crew thanks
mccathryn2 years ago
can you mix bald cap materials ? I have something called bald cap plastic , there isn't enough to cover 4 layers ,also have liquid latex , can I mix them together ??
jo'grady2 years ago
Hi, how many layers do you need to make the latex strong for the cap? Also, whats the best way of peeling these off? I have a polystyrene head. I havnt coated it with anything at the moment tho.. currently making one, and have about 5 layers.
Thanks
Jordan
marshon (author)  jo'grady2 years ago
Stage 3 covers this in some detail. Six layers will be strong enough for a standard bald cap. Add another six to that if it's for a headpiece.
Hugo Boom3 years ago
awesome instructable :D is there any way of re-using a bald cap or is it a "just one use then throw it away" kind of thing?
marshon (author)  Hugo Boom3 years ago
Theoretically you could re-use it, but latex is cheap so if it's just for a bald cap I just make another one. If it's for a head piece then I'd re-use it, but the cap would have to be stronger than normal anyway.
Yeah i can finally look like britney spears
In theater, we use heads a lot to make head shaped things. We put on a layer of ORIGINAL saran wrap and hit it with a steamer to shrink wrap it to the head. It does make wrinkles, but you might be able to keep them to a minimum and in places not so critical to the look. I don't know if the plastic will stick to the PVA but maybe treating it with a mold release agent might work. Maybe a real light coat of WD40. Just not so much that you cant get down a coat of the latex.
hifatpeople3 years ago
if you dont have a display head, use a bald person =)
zascecs3 years ago
 Is that person on the front wearing one, because I sure can't tell...!
CB2001 zascecs3 years ago
To answer your question: Yes. And I'll use the example given on the front page to explain.  You see, the picture of Cameron Diaz comes from the movie "My Sister's Keeper," which called for her character to shave her head.  Now, as many people know, movies are shot out of sequence.  Sometimes, actors who are truly dedicated to the movie would be willing to shave their heads for the role if its required.  Sometimes, some of them may refuse to shave their heads, resulting in the use of a bald cap.  Since one of Ms. Diaz's trademark features happens to be her golden blond hair, she wouldn't risk shaving it.  And the best makeup artists make something like a bald cap look so natural, you wouldn't be able to tell.
GaryMeow CB20013 years ago
u can also tell becuz if a person shaves their head (and i know from repeated experience) they won't be completely bald but rather have short bristles. A person who is bald and has no bristles would be balding naturaly (or wearing a bald cap) and not shaved.
lala19893 years ago
The frist step:Preparing your head ,haha
interesting.
what is ur job?
marshon (author)  lala19893 years ago
My job? I am a photographer, artist, body artist, life sculptor, model engineer, prosthetics maker and in a former life I was a Lithographer and a network engineer.
However, currently I am a 'thin wallet' specialist (unemployed). It would seem that when one reaches a certain age all skills or talent simply disappear and one becomes unemployable. .........

Gis a job .....
ah ha~ a busy man huh~? but i think u r enjoy ur life! lucky man~
Jmontana3 years ago
simply Wow! what a finishing i must say. 
Fashim3 years ago
 Wow, this is absolutely epic! Please tell me how to make a full face one and how to apply it. 
marshon (author)  Fashim3 years ago
To make a full face bald cap?? If you mean one that needs to be cut back as in the video, simply paint the latex down over the mannequinn face.
That's so disturbing.
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