Monday, September 30, 2013

Freestyle Cornrows

I decided to take the scary step and jump into freestyling Scholar's hair. This is my first attempt at doing completely freestyle cornrows. I had no plan when I started and made it up as I went. As I did each step, I thought a little about the next step I wanted to take, but I had no overall plan in my head to start out. I had no idea how I was going to finish up the style until I was working on the last step. Even then, I had to adjust my original idea to make it work out. I am not the type of person to go into something like this without a plan! What if I totally messed it up and it looked awful and I had to undo all that I had done? I knew it would take a bit of time to cornrow his hair and I did not want to make him sit there to have it done only to be taken out again. I took a deep breath and started, hoping it would look alright when I finished.

I had washed his hair the day before and had put it into large box braids to keep it from tangling. I knew I wanted to do something with his hair, but I did not know just what I was going to do. 
I knew that the parts highlighted with red were going to be my main parts in whatever style I decided to do. I strategically placed the parts so that however I decided to style his hair, I would be able to hide a small bare spot on the front, top of his head. A few weeks ago, he had a dry spot and had also started a new habit of dragging his head on the floor (he's two years old, what can I say?). The combination of the dryness and rubbing his head in that exact spot as he ran around with his head on the floor caused a small section of hair to break off very close to the scalp. I could not have cornrows beginning at that spot or have any parts at that exact spot or it would be obvious. I had to arrange the rows to make the bald spot the least noticeable. The bald spot is under the braid just to the right of the vertical red line (as you look at the picture above).

I made the main parts very carefully so that I would not have to redo them when I went to style his hair. This would save time.  The other parts were only to break the large sections of hair into smaller sections so that I could braid them and keep the hair from tangling until I was ready to style the hair.

I followed the two main original parts for my style, making new parts in each section for the rows. The original parts gave me somewhat of a structure to work within while having the freedom to create as I went.

The bald spot is under and to the right (as you look at the picture above) of the row that goes down the very middle of his head. It is not too noticeable and looks like a messy part.
To begin, I took out the box braid on his right and, working only with the hair from that braid and the hair on the side and back, I styled his right side.

I made the first part along the front of his hair, going all the way to the back at the nape of his neck. I used alligator clips to keep the hair that I was not going to be braiding out of the way while I braided the first row.

The second row followed along next to the first, starting with hair that had been in the box braid and continuing down and along the side.

The third was parallel to the second, using only the hair on the side and back that had not been in a box braid. 
Next, I took out the box braid at the front that was to the left of the vertical part. I started a row at the back of this section of hair and brought it toward the front. I continued the row along the front of the left side of his head along the hairline to the back, ending at the nape of his neck.

I then took out the box braid behind that and made one more row that looped around. Instead of starting this row at the top of his head, I started on the side, went up and around toward the front and back down and around to the back. Alligator clips were very useful in keeping the hair parted while I braided.

At this point, I was wondering if I had made a good decision in freestyling. I did not know if it would look alright when I had finished or be a big mess!

At this point, I took out the remaining box braids and started making parts and putting in rows where it seemed like they should go. I put in a row along the main horizontal part line, starting on the right side (by the third row that I had done in the very beginning) and brought it along the other rows that had been done on the left side, down to the nape of the neck.

There was only enough space on the back of his head to put in 3 more rows, so I divided that section into 3 even rows and put in the middle, short cornrow. 

Then, I divided the rest of the hair into sections to be cornrowed. I did have to do some thinking and planning to finish the back and have all the rows end at his neck. I did not want to have a row ending in the middle of his head with a tail sticking out! This meant I needed a zig-zag to use all of the hair and be able to finish with the two remaining sections going down to his neck. I was using at least 6 alligator clips at this point to keep all the sections separate and make all the parts that I needed to finish the style in two rows.

I did the zig-zagged row and then the upside-down L-shaped row last.

I had used all of the hair and all the rows ended at the neck!
Back view of completed freestyle cornrow style

I had fun doing this style and I will definitely freestyle his hair again. It was far less stressful than I anticipated and it turned out much better than I had hoped.

Top and back of completed freestyle cornrow style

No, I am not strangling him!
He needed a little steadying hand on his shoulder to keep him from wiggling too much. :)

Full Cornrows

A few weeks ago, I cornrowed Scholar's hair and discovered that his summer hair cut was grown out. Better yet, his baby bald spot had grown in and the hair was about 2 inches long!

While this was exciting, it presented a problem. It had been several weeks since I had done any cornrows. I have been stuck on palm coils, which I absolutely love! (You can check out how we do palm coils HERE and how we care for palm coils during a week HERE.) So, I had not noticed that his hair had grown out so much. When I finished the top of his hair, it looked rather silly because the sides and back were all puffy. It looked like an old man's head with a bald spot on top and hair fluffing out at the sides. OK for an old man, but not for my two year old! I had started cornrowing with one plan (to only cornrow the top) and had to come up with a new plan to finish cornrowing the rest of his hair unless I wanted him to look like a tiny old man!

Thus, my introduction to freestyle cornrowing. It was not truly freestyle, since I did develop some sort of plan and planned it out to be somewhat symmetrical. But I did plan on-the-fly, so to speak, so I like to believe this was at least a small step into freestyling. Which, if you know anything about me, is a scary thing. I like to have things planned out and I very much (that may be an understatement) like to have things orderly - AKA symmetrical, straight lines, PLANNED.

This is how it turned out...

The top - This is what I planned to do and be done.

Right side, front - I began making cornrows along the side, going toward the back of his head. There was not enough room on the back of his head for all of the cornrows to fit. At least not the way I had started, so I had to join up some of the rows. I took two rows that were already started and, at the place where I wanted them to join, I continued the cornrow with one, while adding the three sections from the other into the row instead of picking up new hair. After joining the two rows, I continued in one row to the back.

Left side, front - I had to join several rows together on this side to make it work. I love how it turned out! It gave the style so much character and added an extra dimension to the style.
I will be experimenting with joining rows more in the future.

Back, left side - My parts were not perfect, but I tried to keep the rows parallel to each other and about the same width. You can see where some of the rows joined up together.

Back, right side - I tried to make this side symmetrical with the left side in the back.
I did a little better with the parts on this side.
The style held up fairly well, though the rows broke in a few places on the back after only a day or so. The hair is only about 2-2.5 inches long, so it does not hold as well as longer hair. Also, Scholar got an itchy spot on the back that he kept scratching and pulled out a few rows in a small area. I was able to repair those rows and he had the style for about 2 weeks with only a few minor breaks in the rows that were likely not noticeable to anyone but myself.

I am excited that I can cornrow all of his hair now, but it does take more time. I now have to plan to do his hair over a whole day or on two separate days so he does not have to sit for too long at a time. He can usually sit for about 30-40 minutes while watching one of his favorite shows (he only gets to watch TV when he gets his hair done or on very rare occasions otherwise, so it is a special treat that keeps his attention). We take breaks whenever needed which makes it all take longer, but I try not to stress either of us out with long sessions of sitting.

I like how these cornrows turned out and I want to try to duplicate them again in the future.