Head to Toe

Merria Dearman's wig and hairpiece artistry

The thing that Eva Gabor didn’t realize about a well-made wig is that is should be undetectable by the human eye. Rather than a platinum synthetic attack, the key lies in subtlety, with real human hair and finely crocheted lines. Merria Dearman, wig and hairpiece maker, quite understands this difference. (Compare model Teresa Kabba’s natural hair on p21 with the Dearman wig seen here.)

Born and raised in Sonoma County, Dearman graduated from Santa Rosa High School and attended Vancouver Film School, majoring in film and television makeup artistry. Dearman thought she would learn how to do prosthetics for special affects. When a wig maker taught a lesson on mustache making in class one day, everything changed.

Even while she trained as a stylist at Elle Lui salon in Santa Rosa, Dearman’s hairpiece- and wig-making skills grew. She studied with Amanda Miller, wig maker for Saturday Night Live. In addition to her work at acclaimed hair salon diPietro Todd and for the History Channel, Dearman recently did the hair for the entire cast of the Berkeley Rep’s production of American Idiot, the Green Day musical that went on to snare two Tony Awards on Broadway. In August, she and her new business, Dearman & Archbell, will move to New York.

Eventually, Dearman plans to make quality wigs from well-sourced human hair suppliers for cancer patients. But for now, Dearman is planning her relocation to “mecca” while fine-tuning her work. “People don’t see hair as an art form, and it absolutely is an art form,” Dearman says. “To be able to trick the human eye, to be able to make people see something right in front of them that isn’t real, just by changing someone’s hair color? That’s an art, and I love it.”


Sonoma County Library