Friday, January 18, 2013

Great Hair Fridays - Crimping Tool Experiment

Finger waves and marcel waves were all the rage in the 1920s and 1930s. The marcel wave was named for the 19th century French hairdresser, Francois Marcel, who invented the waving process in 1872. Marcel went on to develop a permanent waving machine. He also developed other specialized hair waving equipment. There is a very informative article here.

3 Vintage Metal Curling Irons - Etsy
Before the electric versions appeared, hair irons could be heated one of two ways. The earliest ones were heated on a wood burning stove. Not directly in the fire mind you. They would have had some kind of stand or base to rest on while being heated.

With the introduction of gas stoves, a rather devilish contraption was manufactured. This thing was hooked up to your gas stove and, um, safely heated your iron. (You can see a fancy one here.) I don't know which method scares me more!
Rare Antique Gas Hair Curling Iron Holder - Swan Creek Cottage on Etsy
Antique electric curling iron heater 1920s
These kinds of things have always fascinated me. I love learning about the different tools of the trade. I bought this crimping tool on Etsy and thought it would be fun to use. Yes, I'm just that crazy. :)

I should state for the record that in no way was I going to try this thing by heating it with "traditional" methods. Instead I tried a little experiment. On chilly winter days I like to used my wood stove. When I do I always keep a pot of water on it to help keep moisture in the room. The wood stove doesn't get hot enough to boil the water, but pretty close. You could easily make a cup of tea with it, which I often do. :) Anyway, a few days before Christmas, as I sat beside said cozy stove with my "new" crimping iron, I began to wonder. Was there a way to safely use this thing? Then it came to me. Why not try heating the crimping tool with hot water!

I waited until the pot of water was nice and steamy then put the metal end of the crimping tool in the water to heat. I waited about 20 to 30 minutes then tested the crimping iron on a very small section of hair. It worked! No sizzling and no burned hair. :) The crimping tool never got that hot.

Pardon the crummy cell photo pictures, still working on camera issues. This is not the best picture but you can kind of see the waves. I started with damp hair and applied a small amount of setting lotion.

I only crimped a small section of hair but I think you see the desired affect. This style of crimping iron produces smallish, soft waves. 

I found that the iron only held its heat for a few short minutes. Enough it get one crimp before needing to return it to the hot water. If I started with hotter water, and gave the iron more time to heat at the start, this process could go a little bit quicker.

So would I try this again? Even though it took forever to crimp just the very front sections of my hair, I liked the finished look. I think I might.

Also see finger waves for Halloween and Downton Abby event.


  1. I like how it looks! I have a curling iron of a similar age (except the handles fold), and I've used in when camping. I heated it on the chimney of an oil lamp. It got hotter than in the water you used, but no hotter than my electric curling iron. It made amazing ringlets. :)

  2. Glad to hear someone else was brave enough to try one of these old hair irons too! :)

  3. HI i am from the UK and have an Antique electric curling iron heater and a mobile one i.e. non electric. If i send a picture of them would you be interested in buying them?

    Thanks Mike

  4. I looked high and low for this information. I was wondering about the heat source, if there even was one, for these vintage tools. Thanks for sharing your research.
    I love the way you embrace the different eras of fashion. I share your enthusiasm.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...