Girl Hair

My new hair wrap by Twig

For nearly twenty years, I practiced law in the state and federal courts of California, representing some of the largest, most conservative corporations in the world before judges and juries not-quite-of-their-peers. My coif was of-the-order, even if I was not Order of the Coif.

My last full-on hair cut was on 22 December 2004, a week before I retired. Since then, I’ve had the ends trimmed a couple times; but essentially, I have hippie-hair. Or girl-hair, if you will.

Most people agree: it’s not a great look for me. My mother laments, “You used to be such a cute kid!” But the long hair is, in some ironically conventional way, a nod to quirkiness. It also serves-up a somewhat light-hearted decoy –- and somewhat belligerent challenge –- for the world to underestimate me, a dynamic I have always tactically relished.

Last month, while I was in the Bay Area, I stopped on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue for an hour to up the ante.

I sought-out a guy named Twig, who works the corner of Telegraph and Durant “toward the end of the week,” selling his beads and bead-jewelry and wrapping hair. I had seen his handiwork in the long, silky tress of my friend Loveleen Dhillon and thought I ought to give it a try.

For the uninitiated, hair wrapping involves binding a lock within a weave of yarn or fabric. Himba women, in Namibia, use leather wraps. This article, which explains the how-tos of hair wrapping, breathlessly reports: “If you have a tween daughter, you know that hair wraps are, like, sooo popular right now!”

Well, like, count me in!

Detail of My Twig Hair Wrap
Detail of my new hair wrap. (Click for larger image.)

Finding Twig on Telegraph Avenue isn’t a problem, assuming he’s actually working that day. He is one of the deans of this famous street scene; everyone knows him and can point you in the right direction. He is a grizzled old veteran of the Sixties, not some hippie-come-lately. “I had always been into macramé,” says Twig. “Then, one day I was in the parking lot of a [Grateful] Dead show and someone showed me how to do hair wrapping, and I was really good at it. I’ve never had difficulty making a living since then.”

Twig invites me to select four colors from a large bag of dyed cotton yarns. He refuses to involve himself, explaining that color selection is not only a matter of individual aesthetics and self-expression, but that “the process of choosing is about taking personal responsibility.” I haven’t paid close-enough attention to the instructions and choose five colors: navy blue, pastel blue, deep red, pink, and yellow. I am about to jettison the light blue, but Twig sees a pleasing balance in the mix and says that he’ll work with all five.

“You also get a bead,” he instructs. So I select a small ceramic bead, which Twig pronounces “a very tasteful choice.”

It’s hard to say exactly how long the process of wrapping takes. Twig stops from time to time to help people browsing his jewelry. At one point, he abandons my wrap when he hears opening riff of “Mind Games” on his radio, and goes over to turn-up the volume. He pauses to listen for a bit before resuming his work. It’s no problem as far as I am concerned. I would never go to a hair wrap artist who didn’t love John Lennon. Or Hannah Montana.

My Lawyer Hair My Hippie Hair
Lawyer Hair and Girl Hair

My Twig Hair
Twig at Work

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24 Responses to “Girl Hair”


  1. 1 Ur Evil Twin from Chennai 25 June 2008 at 1:37 am

    All that is missing is a string of the freshest jasmine flowers for your hair.

    If you continue to let your hair grow at the current rate, you will soon become the envy of all Chennai-ites when you come down here next.

  2. 2 Nipun 25 June 2008 at 9:23 am

    MBJ, you are a fantastic writer! This post had me cracking up. :) And smiling too — imagining a standoff between you and those conservative courtrooms, between the hippie-come-lately’s and the old-school Twigs who work “towards the end of the week”, between my mom’s scissors and Twig’s fashion design. :) Onwards, Steven Seagal. :)

  3. 3 viral 25 June 2008 at 12:34 pm

    you were cute! ;-)

    i have to say, though, that if you’re gonna keep it long, i like the hair wrap idea :-)

  4. 4 BlueBerry Pick'n 25 June 2008 at 2:36 pm

    cool.

    rock on, dude!

    ┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄
    BlueBerry Pick’n
    can be found @
    ThisCanadian
    ┄┄
    We, two, form a Multitude” ~ Ovid.
    ┄┄
    Silent Freedom is Freedom Silenced
    ┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄

  5. 5 Anonymous 26 June 2008 at 9:56 am

    As Arnold would put it, a girly-man.

    Glad to hear that at least there’s a rationale, not that that will lessen your mom’s grief.

    I’m going to try to figure out how to forward this to Bill G. in New York, who had a shoulder replacement this morning. Should cheer him up it that’s possible.

  6. 6 Trishna 27 June 2008 at 1:54 am

    How cute :)

  7. 7 millyonair 28 June 2008 at 9:17 am

    Mark, I dig this! Looks way cool. Your hair in general looks cooler than your “lawyer hair” in my opinion. Twig’s hair is pretty cool too.

    Also: I love that he was “into macramé” – that’s awesome.

    And WTF is a “tween”?

  8. 8 mbjesq 28 June 2008 at 12:04 pm

    What’s a “tween”? Clearly I am!

    The bigger question is: ‘tween what and what?

  9. 9 Nisha 8 July 2008 at 10:08 am

    Deffintetly cute!
    I remeber getting one these when I was 15, ahh brings back memories. Just a word of warning when you do decided to take it out. It is easier to just chop it off, rather than trying to untangle it :)

  10. 10 jes 28 August 2008 at 12:24 am

    mewonders….whats the picture on your Christmas card going to be??????????????

    nice fanclub u gots

  11. 11 Terry Bolyard 28 August 2008 at 10:15 am

    Okay – so I don’t keep up and just read the blog today for the first time in . . . oh never mind. I love you no matter how you wear your hair! Actually I like the wrap thing you’ve got going on – colorful, just like you.

  12. 12 lydia aka sunshine 4 December 2008 at 5:14 pm

    hey am very jealous…………..live here in north carolina and am in search of someone to wrap my hair……….use to do it all the time down in pb fla………..up here seems like they have no clue!!! Yeah, it is a hippie thing……..seems all that stuff is making a come back!!!!!!!! PEACE LOVE & TYE DYE!!!!!!!!!!! If any of you’ll can help me find someone up here to do hair wraps….PLEASE Email me. Thanks…………Happy Holidays.,

  13. 13 Georgia 1 May 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Hello!

    I am throwing a party and would LOVE to have someone do string wrapping for the girls. BUT, I can’t find anything on-line until you. I used to live in Berkeley and now am in Elk Grove, and know that Telegraph avenue has an assortment of talent! Is there anyone you know that is willing to travel to Elk Grove to wrap hair?

    Thanks for any info!

    Georgia

  14. 14 Heather 5 July 2009 at 9:43 am

    I have never seen a male with a hairwrap. Kudos to you. I used to wear one as a tween. I actually became very good at doing them, myself. I’m about to put a hairwrap in one of my friend’s daughter’s hair. Let’s see if I still have the right technique!!

  15. 15 mbjesq 18 August 2009 at 10:11 pm

    READER HELP WANTED:

    I get frequent inquiries: where can I get a hair wrap near where I live? I have no clue. But you may.

    If you know of a hair wrap artist near you (or not so near you, for that matter), please post contact information as a comment in this thread.

    You will be providing a valuable service to tweens and tween wannabes everywhere.

    Cheers,

    MBJ

  16. 16 Donna 18 August 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Hair wrap artists? Isn’t that why girls have slumber parties? Don’t know of any professionals, but here’s a video. http://www.ehow.com/video_4951681_hair-wrapping-techniques.html

  17. 17 mbjesq 20 August 2009 at 12:04 am

    Donna:

    I can’t actually say why girls have slumber parties; but if this is how they are wrapping hair at them, they need a better reason.

    The woman in the video link you posted merely winds the embroidery floss around the small braid of hair. This technique produces only simple bands of solid colors and will remain in-place for a just few days, assuming no major tussling.

    The technique Twig uses in my hair involves knots all the way down the wrap, in a process akin to macrame. Not only can he achieve intricate designs in the weave, it remains looking like-new through daily washing, brushing, and other abuse for months. I tend to wear mine for about four month stretches. The duration-limiting factor is the ultimate death of the the strands of hair that contain the wrap. (The final stages can be accelerated by a sharp, strong tug from a small child. This is how my second wrap was removed after about three-and-a-half months. Ouch!) By cutting mine out a little early, when I trim my hair, and replacing it with a new one, I ensure that the wrap and the rest of my hair are the same length.

    In this link, the instructions describe a knotted approach to achieving simple bands of color. This should be sturdy, but is artistically simplistic compared to the textures and color patterns Twig is able to produce.

    Twig’s technique is what you want from a hair wrap artist. It is well worth showing up at any slumber party with a professionally done wrap already in place.

    Cheers,

    MBJ

  18. 18 Donna 21 August 2009 at 12:06 am

    MBJ:

    Thanks for enlightening me. I guess wrapping, like all other hair alteration, is best left to the experts.

    Happies!

    Donna

  19. 19 JoAnn 9 April 2010 at 7:03 am

    I had a hair wrap done about a year ago by my friends mom. She did our entire soccer team, they came out really cool. I think she does them for a lot of people now, cause I saw a sign on her car with a website. I think the website is sshairwrapdesigns, or something close to that anyway. The sign wasnt that big.

  20. 20 mbjesq 9 April 2010 at 10:09 am

    JoAnn:

    Since moving to Canada, and unable to find anyone who could do wraps here, I ordered a very good how-to book: Hair Wraps by Anne Akers Johnson (Klutz, 1998). The instructions are simple, clear, and well illustrated.

    Anne Akers Johnson, Hair Wraps (1998, Klutz)

    I highly recommend it.

    Best,

    MBJ

  21. 21 Megan 29 August 2010 at 9:44 am

    Hello MJB, Your passion for hair wrapps are as delightful and heartwarming as they are useful. I have the desire to become a hair wrap artist and have been looking for good tutorials online. Poorly illustrated examples of the techniques used to make booring blocks of colour have been all I could find, until your page! The knotting techniques Twig has used are beautiful like nothing I have seen before. Im really interested in learning them but im very daunted by their complexity. I have already found the website selling the book you recomend. I will purchase it as soon as I can now that it is condoned, but I must ask if you could help me learn this amazing style of hair wrapping with any other resources or information!!! :)

    Peace and love xxx

    Megan

  22. 22 Yvonne 25 September 2010 at 12:24 am

    LOL. I will add this to my list of hair wrap stories.

  23. 23 Kaitlyn 6 February 2011 at 12:06 am

    Oh my god! haha I love this! – – I do hair wraps myself, and I absolutely love yours. It looks super nice. And you have a great story to go along with it!
    Also, I find your hair quite attractive, dispite what others might say. :) Just thought you should hear that!!
    & John Lennon = <3

  24. 24 www.kafele.net 29 April 2013 at 6:05 am

    Wow, this piece of writing is nice, my younger sister
    is analyzing these things, thus I am going to let know her.


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