Alpaca Fiber; Pricing and other FAQ

Ok! I'm writing this post for everyone that is thinking of purchasing fiber from myself (or others!). It will be full of (hopefully helpful) links, answers to common questions, and more. I'll start out with a direct copy-paste from my FAQ page;

How do you make wig caps?

I made an entire video just about making wig caps here.

How do you attach the hair?

I use modpodge, which you can find at almost any craft store. Check out my wig making videos for more information. Many people sew the fiber into tracks or wefts that are sewn into a soft cap, you can easily find tutorials online for this.

How do you get custom colors?

I dye the fibers myself. For Alpaca hair you can use human hair dye, but be sure to always test it when it's dry to ensure the dye won't transfer to the doll. You can also use acid dyes to get custom colors of Alpaca or other natural fibers. Synthetic fibers already come in every color under the sun, but if you are customizing a white or blonde wig to add more color I recommend using the sharpie method.

What is the 'Sharpie Method'?

Color on it with Sharpie and wash the excess away with warm water. Once dry, rub it around on your hands or some paper to see if there is any transfer. If there is, wash it again until there isn't. This method will NOT work well with natural fibers, which is sad, because it is much cheaper than purchasing dyes.

Where can I get Alpaca fiber?

The simple answer is: online. There are a ton of places to find alpaca fiber, Etsy is a good place to start. If you're a bit more ambitious you can spend time looking to see if there is a farm near you that raises alpaca - this will probably be your cheapest option if you can find it! Plus it's fun to see the alpaca in person <3

What fibers are good to use/can I use x, y, or z instead?

You can use just about anything to make a wig as long as you can glue or sew it to a wig cap. I like using Suri fiber (from suri alpacas) because of its very natural look and feel as well as its styling capability, but perfectly awesome wigs are made from silk fiber, synthetic fiber or mohair, wool, goat fiber, even human hair! Here's a tip about suri fiber though: look out for micron count. Micron count measures how fine the fiber is, which can really affect your end product. Generally, light fibers like blonde or white look nicer in a finer range, while darker colors can be courser and still look lustrous.

How can I make Dreadlocks?

I've done a video on how to make one single dreadlock here and may do more on this topic. I've also written a blog post that hopefully answers a lot of questions here.

Now I'll go over what is directly related to my store;

Pricing -

I believe my pricing is fair, but because I've been asked several times, let me clarify why this is.

Let's consider one ounce of alpaca fiber. Totally raw and unprocessed, 1 oz is still somewhere between 8-10 dollars. A 'wholesale' alpaca fiber market doesn't exist for people like me, small-time artists, so that's the price I pay. Add that to the price of the dye I use (somewhere around 3$ per ounce) and you get my break-even; 11-13 USD.

That's all before calculating the cost of my labor. I believe a person should be paid for the amount of time they work; I think that is perfectly reasonable. It takes me about 8 hours to process 1 oz of alpaca hair from totally raw to dyed and straightened. I pay myself only 5$ per hour, less than minimum wage. 8 hours x 5 dollars = 40$. Add the cost of materials, you get about 51 dollars. Because of these high prices I prefer to sell in small quantities, used for smaller dolls, as accents in a wig, or in thinner wigs (or more experienced wig-makers).

Hopefully that helps clear up the prices in my store! ^_^

Dye methods - I only use three types of dye method in my alpaca fiber.

Acid Dye; this is the most complicated method used to achieve the brightest, most saturated color. This method involves boiling the hair with citric acid and a powder that, depending on the time left in the bath, the temperature of the bath, and the saturation of the bath, will dye the hair a variety of colors. I often mix my own acid dyes to achieve unique colors.

Fabric Dye; this method involves taking regular fabric dye and soaking the fiber. This is the slowest method because it takes quite some time for the fabric dye to penetrate the oil in alpaca hair. Usually this method results in softer, more muted colors.

Human Hair Dye; this is the method I use the least. Human hair dye is much more fickle than the other, more reliable dyes, and often can transfer color (much like dark colored clothing or dark wig-caps). It can create very vibrant colors and is fairly easy to use, but difficult to seal the color enough to prevent transfer.

Unless otherwise stated, my fiber is dyed to give a more 'realistic' look. This means there is slight color variation rather than one solid color, as seen in most synthetic wigs. Not only is this what the fiber wants to do naturally, it keeps me from over-boiling and matting the fiber, and makes the final product look more natural.

Shipping, Packing, Etc -

Usually I will ship small quantities of fiber 'flat packed' - in a ziplock bag pressed flat. I do this to prevent any wrinkles from forming in the fiber while shipping. Carefully removing the fiber will ensure you won't lose too much fiber.

Larger quantities of fiber will usually be shipped in small bundles tied together with elastic, rubber bands, or ribbon. This is to prevent the larger quantities of fiber from mixing together in one huge pile.

If you have a request of how you want your fiber shipped, just let me know at the time of purchase.

Shipping is usually done through UPS or USPS. Occasionally my work schedule doesn't allow me to ship within 2 days, if that is the case I will let you know by the end of the second day prior to purchase.

Shipping costs may not exactly match the price you paid. This is because Etsy calculates the shipping - this sometimes doesn't match what the post office says. If there is a significant difference either way (paid too much or paid too little) I will be happy to sort it out once the package arrives. I will not reimburse for return shipping, lost packages, or delayed packages (that are the fault of the post office).

Customization -

I currently do not take orders for custom wigs. I love ya'll, but I don't have the time to make a product like that with the quality I'd want.

I am open to take orders for custom dreadlocks or alpaca fiber. Please send me a message about your idea for a custom order and I will give you numbers and a timeline, and we can go from there. Know that it isn't possible to match previous fibers or fibers from other makers 100%.

Dreadlocks only come in certain colors. I will let you know what colors I have and send pictures, but if I need to purchase any excess fiber you will be responsible for that cost. Thanks for understanding!

I will continue to update this post as I run into new questions. Thanks for reading!