Introduction: How to Make a Bald Cap - SFX Theatrical

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.

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.

Step 2: Adding the Rubber

Picture of Adding the Rubber

Cut your cheap bath sponges into 2" (50mm) cubes with a pair of scissors. Coat one side of the sponge with liquid latex and then carefully start to dab the latex onto the head. take the latex all the way to the edge of your outermost line.

I'm using blue latex here so you can see what's going on. the latex can be brushed on if preferred, but I find that the stippling effect of the sponges leaves the final surface of the bald cap with a very realistic 'skin' texture.

Keep reloading the sponge as required. Your are looking for a thin even coat.
If the latex begins to dry out you will see it lifting the latex you have already laid down, keep the latex on the sponge wet to avoid this happening. Once the entire area of the cap has a thin even coat, leave it to dry for a couple of hours. You can try to wash the sponge out under running water, but I don't bother, I just discard the cube and use a new one for each coat.

Once the first coat has dried, start on the second coat but only bring this one out to your second line. Again, keep the sponge wet to avoid lifting the lower layer. Work evenly and thinly over the cap. Let this layer dry. Then repeat until you have four layers. Allow the whole thing to dry overnight.

Step 3: Dicision Time

Picture of Dicision Time

At this stage you need to decide what you are going to use the cap for.

If the cap is needed as a thin under layer for make up alone, or to make someone look bald, then add another couple of thin layers to the innermost line and leave it to dry.

If the cap is for sealing the hair for life casting add another 4 layers to prevent the possibility of tearing and allowing the casting medium through.

If the cap is to form the basis of a prosthetic head piece then add at least 6 more layers for strength, more if required.

Allow the entire thing to dry thoroughly. The latex is usable after 4 or 5 hours but really needs a couple of days to cure completely. Natural latex will take on a straw colour once it's fully cured.

Step 4: Removing the Cap

Picture of Removing the Cap

Latex sticks to almost nothing, except itself. It's very good at sticking to itself. So before you remove the cap, give the entire thing a really good brushing with talcum powder. I use a large blusher brush for this.

Then find the outermost edge of your outermost line somewhere at the back of the cap. Using your fingertip, GENTLY roll the edge until it just starts to lift. Get the blusher brush covered in talc and force some powder under the edge. Lift it a little and brush it again. Once you can get a decent grip on this lower edge, start to peel the cap away from the head forcing talc under the rubber as you go. If raw latex touches raw latex it will instantly stick to itself, unless it has some talc on it.

You can go overboard on the talc, it won't matter if there's powder everywhere as long as the cap doesn't stick to itself. Eventually you will have the whole cap off, and you will be amazed at how tough the thin rubber really is.

Step 5: Fitting the Cap

Picture of Fitting the Cap

To fit a bald cap, stretch it down over the head, carefully mark any trimming required with a felt pen. The cap I made on the styrene head looks much too big for the mannequin but it would stretch down and glue perfectly well.

Have a look

HERE

For a video of a bald cap being fitted by Peter Gaal.

Cut it using small sharp scissors being careful not to decapitate your victim (er.. model), or slicing off their ears or poking them in the eye etc.

The edges can now be stuck down using liquid latex, spirit gum, pros-aide or similar theatrical glue. Run a fillet of latex on a q-tip round the edges to feather them out.

You can now cast your model, or add make up or whatever.

If you are building a prosthetic, it is best to do this while the bald cap is still in place on your mannequin.

Comments

YaroslavaD (author)2017-01-14

if I'm going to make only half of the cap - I need a really high forehead for cosplay - and will need to attach a wig to it, will it be enough to do 6 layers?

Jarabara (author)2015-07-21

To make one for a bald cap effevt approx how much latex is needed? In oz? Bc i dont want to buy way more than i need

mccathryn (author)2012-01-05

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 ??

cherbert1 (author)mccathryn2014-11-13

I wouldn't recommend it, you can try it as latex isn't very expensive. but I just don't see that working very well. the big determining factor is if the bald cap plastic has latex in it, if it does then give it a shot.

jojo1972 (author)2014-10-26

Is there something that can be replaced for talcum powder?

inventor scout (author)2014-10-24

How do you color it like skin?

whitejaxon (author)2012-10-30

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)whitejaxon2012-10-31

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

whitejaxon (author)marshon2012-10-31

all good i can still use this for stage crew thanks

jo'grady (author)2011-10-17

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'grady2011-10-21

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 Boom (author)2011-02-04

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 Boom2011-02-04

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.

i need no name (author)2010-10-26

Yeah i can finally look like britney spears

fairygodmother1 (author)2010-09-12

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.

hifatpeople (author)2010-09-10

if you dont have a display head, use a bald person =)

zascecs (author)2010-05-26

 Is that person on the front wearing one, because I sure can't tell...!

CB2001 (author)zascecs2010-05-26

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 (author)CB20012010-07-04

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.

lala1989 (author)2010-05-27

The frist step:Preparing your head ,haha
interesting.
what is ur job?

marshon (author)lala19892010-05-28

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 .....

lala1989 (author)marshon2010-06-25

ah ha~ a busy man huh~? but i think u r enjoy ur life! lucky man~

Jmontana (author)2010-06-01

simply Wow! what a finishing i must say. 

Fashim (author)2010-05-27

 Wow, this is absolutely epic! Please tell me how to make a full face one and how to apply it. 

marshon (author)Fashim2010-05-27

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.

Awesome-aniac (author)2010-05-26

That's so disturbing.

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Bio: Untidy, disorganised and a bit silly. I am a photographer, artist, body artist, sculptor, prosthetic maker, model engineer, and general idiot who likes making stuff ... More »
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