the dread goddess, canon 50d
The night before the transformation I took a very long shower. I saturated my hair with conditioner and continuously combed it smooth. Over and over and over. My eyes were closed and rather than a feeling of sadness that I may never be able to run a comb through my hair again, a slight smile played itself on my lips. I felt a bit rebellious. People with my type of hair don't typically ruin their hair like this! The one thing on my body that I have consistently felt was truly lovely, I knew in a few hours would be a huge forest of crocheted knots dangling from my scalp. I wasn't afraid. It felt like the next step in accepting me as me...and detaching myself from needing to have soft, flowy hair to be beautiful. That I have always focused more on the inner and this was part of helping to guide me on that path. I felt ready to say goodbye to my soft hair...but I did thoroughly enjoy that shower!
I had to blow dry my hair, which I never do anymore, because it needed to be perfectly dry for the next day. So, it was another ritual of brushing through it over and over. I took my time. Boho Boy and Cedar were asleep in our hotel room. Nothing else was interrupting this little ceremony of sorts.
Later I slipped into bed and Boho Boy snuggled up to me. He held me close and gave a big sigh...while running his fingers through my hair. He did this for a long while. I looked up at him and asked if he was going to miss being able to do this. His response was "I'd miss other things more...". Beautiful answer. I know what he means.
The next morning we were all excited. Cedar sensed something was going on, so he was a bit cautious with the whole thing. I think you can see it in his face throughout the photos. I didn't linger in front of the mirror and play with my hair before heading out. I glanced at myself quickly. I already felt the transformation and no longer felt connected to that reflection.
I meant to bring my flip camera to record my steps up to the salon and then interview Stephanie, the Dread Goddess that would be creating magic with my hair. But I forgot it, out of excited nerves I suppose. So yes, I just gave the place away, didn't I? Stephanie was my dread stylist and she works at Akemi Salon in Portland, Oregon!!!!
I discovered her via a private message sent to my Etsy shop months ago. A dear blog reader that thought I may want to know of Stephanie. I felt safe knowing Stephanie was a believer of the crochet method, which is the method that my friend Em had done in Thailand. What I love about this method is no products are used. Just a comb and a crochet hook and a patient and creative and magical hand. I also love how with this method, you get the look you want much more quickly than other methods. Most dreads take up to a year or more to look the way you dream but with this method, it can be as short as a month.
I had emailed Stephanie and told her a bit of my story and what all of this means to me. I had no idea how she would respond. If she would think I am this silly emotional girl from California and oh my goodness, this is just hair! But a week later I got the most amazing response. She had read a bit of my blog and learned more of my story and resonated with me on many levels. Our connection via email felt instant. Then the first time we spoke on the phone, we were both nervous and giddy and I loved that she fully understood what type of dreadlocks I was imagining on my head. Something loose and flowy and imperfect. She got me. She always had the same knotty locks on her head as well.
I wasn't sure what to expect when meeting her in person because the photos on her website are not her. Her friend designed that site and since she didn't have a shot of herself, used models that resembled her. When she told me this, it left a bit of mystery. I loved that.
When we first walked into her salon, we were already enamored. The space surrounding their shop was very funky and exuded a whole mind, body and soul appeal. Their salon was right next door to a cool yoga studio already in session. When we first walked through the doors I already felt I was at home. Two sweet vintage sofas and eclectic art on the wall. Yes! It was just her in this space...the other stylists/customers hadn't arrived yet. When she turned around to say hello, it was instant girl crush time. We both lit up and hugged and I was a goner. She was stunningly beautiful (see photo above) with a unique style and a warm voice and a glow about her. I felt soothed and safe immediately. She instantly felt sweet on Cedar and later told me she typically doesn't feel that way about babies (except for her own).
After Boho Boy and Boho Baby left the salon, it was just her and I and in detail we talked about how we envisioned my hair. Even though she kept asking me what I wanted, I continued to say that I trusted her artistic vision of what she feels would go with my face. I truly did trust her. All artists love to hear this, right? "I trust your vision!" I love hearing this with my photography and she loved hearing this about her precious dreadlock talent.
So, she decided to do various dread sizes throughout (mostly randomly placed small and medium dreads and two big ones in the back underneath to use as ponytail ties to wrap around the hair). She left a lot of hair on the ends so that it will eventually curl and flow after washing. She tucked in a surprise dread braid on one side of my hair (three teeny dreads braided together). In the end, we decided to leave bang wisps loose so that I could leave a bit of the romance of my hair and if I decide to dread them later, I can. So I have some soft hair in the front pieces.
One by one, she pulled up parts of my hair with clips and with each loose piece, she backcombed and then used a crochet hook to crochet strands of hairs back and forth creating knots along the way. The constant tugging felt a bit rough on my scalp but other than that, I was too distracted and excited to feel it.
We were lost in conversation most of the time and after she had done a few dreads, my dear friend Amy Seeley walked in. To see her smiling face and feel her warm embrace felt so comforting. I was missing Boho Boy and Cedar. I wanted to share this experience with someone I knew and loved and Amy was so very needed. Her and Stephanie connected as well and in between all of us talking of romantic love and dreams and desires, Amy grabbed my camera to capture some of the process. Most of the photos you see without her in it are taken by her.
So, the whole experience was just so surreal and beautiful. As I was getting my dreads, I was able to share some of my story and where I was at right now as far as acceptance and self love. Amy was sharing some beautiful personal bits of her life and Stephanie too spilled about her relationship and her stellar connection to her daughter. It was a big mushy love fest.
Then enters Boho Boy and Cedar after 3.5 hours of me at the salon. My hair was nearly done and I felt a huge sense of lightness of being. I nearly cried when I saw Cedar hanging on the chest of my husband in a Bjorn. The first time Cedar locked eyes with Amy he squealed in delight and moved his arms up and down like a birdie. We all laughed. I knew he would know who she was since we listen to her music together all of the time. He wanted to be held by her and her alone. So, the remainder of my time there, the three of them (amy, boho boy and cedar) went to grab lunch and bring it back and hang out on the vintage couches, eating, sharing, laughing and observing the finishing touches.
My heart was swelling huge. I felt like the most blessed person. I felt loved and adored and I felt grateful for this all in my life. I felt honored to be surrounded by such amazing human beings...including my son, who seems to heal hearts just by his look and his touch. Everyone falls in love with him and as a mother, it is so fun to observe. But his connection with Amy was other worldly and continued to be so over the next few days.
So, as far as maintenance, I never have to use wax or products to keep it all together. So, when the fly aways begin to unravel, a crochet hook is used to put them back in place. Stephanie sent me home with a crochet hook and showed Boho Boy how to crochet the pieces in (since I am unable to fly to Portland and see her for maintenance). There is a photo of her teaching him with a fake piece of hair on her lap in the slide show I share at the end of this post. How sexy is it that my husband is doing maintenance on my hair. YUM. He did such a wonderful job when she asked him to try it on the long piece of wig. She was so impressed with how well he picked it up. Love my man!
When all was done I was geeked about my hair. It looked so much better than I had imagined because I know at first it is supposed to be a bit awkward and it needs time to relax and flow. But if I tie it back, I am quite pleased. Stephanie said it should relax after the first time I wash it, which will be a week from the day I got them. Right now they feel a bit rough, scratchy and wiry. They stick out in weird places and don't have much of a flow but after washing they should soften a lot and in about a month, should be about how I envisioned them.
I only need to wash my hair once per week, although some only wash once a month. I am supposed to use Dr. Bronners Organic Castille soap. I think I'll stick with the Lavender one I already have. I ordered a DVD from DreadHead which goes into detail about how to wash your hair.
Following an almost teary goodbye with Stephanie, we went to Amy's adorable cottage and she played a few songs for us in her bedroom. We were all simply amazed at Cedar's attention to her playing. He obviously recognized the songs and his eyes were glued to the piano and Amy's hands and a smile wouldn't leave his face. I was moved and teary and blown away. Amy then proceeded to teach Cedar how to play while on her lap at the piano. SO cute, so fun. Being with Amy was truly magical for all of us. We instantly felt she was part of our family. I love it when my husband connects equally to my friends the way I do. We had so many delicious conversations over Thai food the next night on our hotel veranda with the moon rising above. I will never forget these precious days.
The night of my first dread day, my scalp was itching badly. It felt very similar to the feeling when your long hair is in a tight ponytail all day and you take it out and it hurts to pat your hair down and then your scalp itches from the irritation. Similar to that but times ten. So, Stephanie told us to rub a mixture of tea tree oil and water on my scalp. Boho Boy did this for me very gently and I felt relief immediately but especially the next day...the itch has been gone until last night. So, it is just something I may have to continue to do until my scalp gets used to the weight and pull of them.
So my dears, that is my story. If I haven't answered any questions, do ask me in the comments and I will respond in the comments. This post is already long enough and I may have put most of you to sleep!!
I look forward to share with you via photos the transformation from hard scratchy dreads to soft, flowy, messy ones. ; )
Here is the slide show. Turn speakers on, please. Photos without Amy in it are all taken by Amy with my camera. The remaining are taken by me or Boho Boy (via phone or Canon 50d). Photo processing by me.
Song playing during slide show is I've Got Ideas by Amy Seeley.