CUSTOM: Give your Doll Natty Locs in 20 minutes

I have posted several times before about giving a doll Locs or Dreadlocks – or whatever your preferred term might be.

Corset Kitten’s Loc’ing technique has a great organic look and feel but but might be too intensive for some, and may not hold up in the hands of a five-year-old.

Ms. Loanne Hizo Ostlie’s work is beautiful but might be out the price range for most people.

I kept pondering though- hoping to devise a way of creating the locs without re-rooting, that would be cheap, easy and durable.

I had been thinking about Locs for months when the idea hit me to try using a common household iron.

I played around with different settings on my iron. The Silk setting worked but the hair didn’t melt quite enough to lock in the Loc and I had to stay on a single loc a long time.

The Wool setting did the trick but if you linger too long, you can melt right through and the hair comes off the head. The hair doesn’t stick to my iron or board, only melts to itself it seems.

If you try this method, please share your sucesses as well as your frustrations, lessons and tips.

So In Style Grace after her hair has been Loc’d

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Paulette Richards says:

    Neat technique. I think I would try using a pressing cloth between the iron and the locks to minimize the risk of melting the hair onto the iron. Also have you tried this with dolls that have curly hair? It might give the locks a more interesting texture.

  2. Paulette –

    I wondered the same thing about the lack of texture. If a doll already had curly hair I would be loathe to give it up by converting to Locs.

    I thought about putting the doll’s hair into boiling water and letting it swish around a bit to see if that would create that fried texture you so often see on thrift store dolls. I wonder even about putting a doll under the broiler (protecting the head) to see what the texture might become – using that as a precursor to Locs.

    As for protection btw the iron and the hair, I didn’t have any trouble with the hair sticking to anything but itself (a good thing). It didn’t stick to the iron or the ironing board cover. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

  3. Kimberley says:

    Cool! I have been trying to lock up vinyl doll hair and I’ve had no real success so far. This is great.
    Would a hair dryer matt the hair a bit to begin with, making it like thrift store dolls?

    1. Kimberley –

      You are definately thinking along the same lines as me. I had a Jasmine doll I got at a thrift store and her hair was sort of melted into one big clump. It had a nice texture and I was thinking, “Okay, so somehow heat has done this to her hair” – based on the way it was matted it made me think it had laid in the sun somewhere. So I started thinking about how to fake sun. That’s when I thought of irons, blow-dryers, broilers, swishing it in boiling water, etc. Of course the trick is to bake the hair without melting the head. The iron could be kept away from the head so I tried that first, and that’s when I realized I could try it for the locks themselves.

      I think you and Paulette are both thinking along the same lines, and the technique could be improved by adding texture before the locking process. Are you going to try it? I would love to see pics and could add them to the blog or link to yours if you find an improvement. It’s funny how this has befuddled so many people for so long.

  4. Lola says:

    Awesome. I will try this as soon as I can–I have to use my iron for sewing for other people, so I might need to pick up a cheap iron that I don’t mind messing up before I can try it.

  5. shaundak21 says:

    I did mine a while back with a blow dryer it’s worked great and was perfect if you don’t want it to stay forever, Now she has a curly type natural African American look which was my goal to start with. :0)

    1. Oh I hope you provide more details on what you did with the blow-dryer. Did you texurize the hair or loc it with a blow-dryer?

  6. Lola says:

    So I tried this today. My lessons–
    Don’t use your Good Iron. If you do it wrong, like I did, it WILL melt to the iron. Of course, this was a thrift store old-as-dirt iron, so it may burn extra hot. But ew.
    Also, I wonder what the type of hair has to do with how well it melts. My first try was on a spare “artsy” heads (most of us probably have a few of those) but her hair was super silky to start with and melted quickly. I didn’t have any other types of hair to test on.
    I tried it also on another artsy head that I had previously tried to dread with glue and ratting, and it worked okay but the glue coating on the hair seemed to keep it from melting.
    I need to practice more. I was not nearly fast enough on my ‘wiping’ and i had melting on my iron, work surface, and artsy’s hair.

  7. Amber says:

    I am very late to this, but still wanted to leave this suggestion: they make embossing heat guns and tiny craft irons (ones that attach to wood burning pens) and many many heat tool head shapes. Perhaps those might help in applying the heat?

    1. Nikia says:

      Hmmm, I am late too. I have used the iron to make a few sets of Barbie locks, and they all came out fine (a bit too smooth). I had a Brandi Barbie head, and the locks really came out well on that doll (if you don’t count the ones a burned off). I do have a heat gun, so I’m going to try Amber’s suggestion.

      1. Nikia – I love the Brandi Barbie head. She already has micro-braids so it’s interesting that locks worked well on that hair.

        I agree that the technique I show in this tutorial doesn’t give the effect I really want. Someone suggested doing the natural hair tutorial first and then doing the locks. That’s an awful lot of work, but I’ll probably do it as some point.

        I’d love to hear about how things turn out.

    2. That does sound like a really good idea. Can you post a link to the items you are talking about? Stuff on Amazon or something?

  8. Tayler says:

    there’s actually a lot of information on the internet about how to make synthetic dread locks for people to wear. I actually made my own synthetic dreads out of kanekolon fibre and an old wig and they look fabulous on me. kanekalon fibre is very similar to the fibres used to make barbie’s hair, so I would say just google how to make synthetic dreads and use them on your doll. as someone who has made countless dreads out of plastic hair, I think this might make things easier:

    to get that texture you are talking about first take some talcum powder and run it through the doll’s hair to get rid of that glossy finish. it make the hair to look more natural and it will make the hair strands want to cling to each other more. then places a folded up towel over your lap and place the doll’s head against the towel. now begin rubbing her head in a circular motion against the towel. keep doing this until all of the hair is nice and nappy throughout and resembles a steel wool pad. then separate into dread lock sized sections.
    Give the hair a rinse in some hot water to remove the talcum powder. do not wring dry. then twist the first section and very lightly drag the hot iron over the hair. keep a small cup of water beside you and keep dipping the sections in water before you iron them, making sure they are thoroughly soaked as the steam created by the iron’s heat will seal the dread lock into place.

  9. Tayler says:

    also if you are nervous about burning off the dolls hair with the iron, place a wet square of cotton fabric over the twisted section of hair and then iron on top of the square. the steam will be enough to seal your hair into a dread lock and because it is a secondary heat source, it will not melt the dread lock off. it’s just like melting chocolate in a double boiler as apposed to a basic pot, which will burn it to a char.

    1. Great tips Tayler! I will have to try this and post my results!!

  10. Cher says:

    I like the tutorial except the music is way too loud, you can’t hear what the person is saying.

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