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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Workshops: Hair Styling and Head Wraps (LaVonda Price)


The cultural phenomenons known as hair weaving and head wraps, continue to draw people from all walks of life.

"Hair design has always brought people together to sample the latest styles," says hair stylist LaVonda Price, who demonstrated popular distinctions like weaving and preparation during a workshop at Kingsport's Renaissance Center for Black History Month 2010.

Click here to see a slideshow of African-American hair wraps and hair styling.

"Sometimes, you can change a man or woman's whole personality, just by changing the way they wear their hair," she says. "It's a real good attention-getter. Sometimes, you can go way back to the styles of the Motherland, which are becoming very popular in African-American culture. The braiding that I'm doing is what I love doing the best. I love it because that's what our ancestors used to do back when. They didn't have much else to do and when they were bored, they women braided hair and fixed it up."

LaVonda is one of the best experts in her craft, and for good reason. She learned hair dressing and styling from one of the legends.. Mrs. Tillie Trammell on Dunbar Street. She was among the best of the best in Riverview.

"Miss Tillie was a wonderful teacher," LaVonda remembers, "and very good at detail. She could talk to you, style your hair, carry on a phone conversation, everything all at the same time, and when she finished, you were amazed at the new look you had. I miss asking her advice on things, and when I fix hair, it's just like she would have done it."

"Hair styling is a long lost art in the black community," she says. "A lot of people like the styles they see from Africa, the Motherland, because they're so nostalgic. Everything they used to do back then, is more natural now, it's more becoming. It's also relaxing. Sometimes you can do too much and damage the hair, and it does take great care to make sure you're not overdoing anything."

There's a common misconception about hair styling that LaVonda says, many people have.

"When you braid hair," she says, "it actually grows. When you're using just your own hair in corn rolling, you're using a gentle tension. The human scalp responds to that, and gives in a little bit at a time. Hair is going to grow daily anyway.. most hair grows anywhere from a half-inch to an inch in a month's time, and when you start adding to it, that's when it can really become an elegant way to express yourself."

Teira Blye has always liked her hair in braids.

"I see a lot of people with that, in pictures, in school," she says, " and I like having my hair stylish like that. I think it looks good on me. There are so many styles to choose from, but the long braids are the best on me."

"We're going to take her's long," LaVonda says. "She's gonna have fun with it.. she can wear it in pony tails, or up-do's.. she's just gonna have a ball with it when we're done. We've got a creation going on here that she's gonna enjoy showing off."

Meanwhile, head wraps are not lost on the new generation.

Step 1: Unwrap the head-wrap and let the fabric unfold so it is one long piece. Place the fabric on your head. Pull the fabric down so it covers all your hair. Allow one side to be longer than the other as it hangs down.

Step 2: Take the long end of the fabric and wrap it around the hair in a twisting fashion. Be sure not to twist your hair into the fabric as this will damage the hair. Twist the fabric around the hair so it keeps the hair straight while covering it entirely. Continue until you have all the hair securely wrapped in the fabric.

Step 3: Find the end of your hair and hold it with your fingertips. Twist the hair wrap with your hair inside slowly. Twist and twist until your hair and the wrap begins to coil and twists under itself into a bun-like structure.

Step 4: Wrap this twisted section around the bulk of your hair nearest your head. It should form a sort of short enclosed ponytail. Tuck the ends in under the ponytail section. Secure with bobby pins or, if your hair is thick enough, tuck the ends in and secure them.

Step 5: Shake your head gently to make sure your wrap is secure. If it feels loose, you can start over or simply pin the loose areas in place with bobby pins.

If hair design and hair wraps are long lost arts in the African-American community, you can't tell it. Folks stopped by on a regular basis to watch the magic of hair creation, and of course, had plenty of good comments about what they were seeing.

And better yet.. LaVonda's hair styling has impressed Teira greatly. Another great hair stylist, in the true tradition of "Miss Tillie" could be in the making.