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USITT's 2010 Costume Symposium will allow participants to choose one of four different options suited to their interest and skill level, from beginner to advanced.

Photos/Courtesy Martha Ruskai

Wigs Focus of 2010 Symposium

Martha Ruskai
Costume Design & Technology Commission

The authors of Wig Making and Styling, Martha Ruskai and Allison Lowery, will be sharing some of the now "not so secret" tricks and techniques of the wig making industry during the 2010 USITT Costume Symposium August 5 to 7 at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Joining them will be Kelly Yurko and Mark Boley for a combined 85 years of experience in the theatrical and film wig making business. During the course of three days, 48 participants will develop individual skill sets through one of four simultaneous master classes. Up to 12 participants in each group will focus on a single topic and develop and hone the skills needed to produce quality hairpieces.

Participants will select one area of concentration, and all sessions will take place in the new Wig, Makeup, and Costume Studios of the University. A final "show and tell" will give all a chance to share and ask questions.

Group 1: Styling will begin with all of the tools and techniques used to style period and contemporary hairstyles. After each participant has created finger waves, ringlets, marcel waves, pincurls, and other industry basics, they will apply these techniques to complete wigs to create finished styles. Participants will work with human and synthetic wigs; hand tied lace fronts as well as making old synthetics look new and stage worthy again. This section is perfect for someone starting out in the field or someone who has just run into a wall trying to make the wigs from the box work better.

No prior experience necessary

Group 2: Facial Hair participants will leave with a complete beard and mustache. Participants will learn to tie a wig knot, create facial hair patterns, lay lace on a block, what direction to ventilate, and how to style and apply the finished beard and mustache.

No prior experience necessary.

*An additional fee of $50 covers the cost of the human hair, lace and ventilating needles. Participants who already own these items may bring them from their theatre or school, but please check with presenters to make sure you have the right tools ahead of time.

Group 3: Wig Fronting can be added to commercial wigs in many ways. Participants will explore the three primary variations and choose a method suited to their level of experience. Skills that will be learned and polished include how to tie a knot, taking measurements, tracings also known as plastic bubbles, stretching lace, control of direction, and color mixing.

Prior experience with styling and applying wigs required. Prior ventilating experience preferred.

*An additional fee of $50 - $125 covers the cost of the wigs, lace, and needles. Participants may chose to bring their own materials with prior approval. Please contact presenters for more information.

Group 4: Complete Wig Foundations are made out of a variety of materials and with several different patterns. Learn the thought processes, advantages, and disadvantages of each material, and pattern. Participants will have the opportunity to study a variety of wigs and bare foundations. Participants will begin with measurements, tracings, and complete at least one foundation. There will be time to begin adding hair. Depending on the experience and skill of the participant it may be possible to leave with a complete wig.

Prior experience with ventilating, machine and hand sewing are required to participate.

*An additional fee of $150 includes foundation materials and human hair. Participants may chose to bring their own materials with prior approval. Please contact presenters for more information.

Proximity of the studios in the state-of–the-art rooms will make it possible for participants to take sneak peeks at the work going on in other sessions. In addition, a final "show and tell" will give all a chance to share and ask questions.

Housing is available 1.5 miles away at the Wingate Hotel. Historic Old Salem is located between the Wingate and UNCSA campus. See brochure for more information or register using this form here. Contact Martha Ruskai at with any questions.

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