Hairbrained Quick-Tips: Clock Cutting with Ira Pope Sage

When it comes to haircutting, NAHA ‘17 Teach-In Educator Ira Pope Sage craves simplicity. To accomplish this, he’s created a curriculum that relies entirely on one philosophy: clock cutting. “I look at the head as a clock,” Sage confirms. “This is a technique that’s very friendly for hairdressers of all skill levels. I believe that knowledge creates simplicity and that you don’t have to complicate things to be advanced.”  

Read on to get a quick-tip guide to his straightforward clock cutting method, and get up-close with Sage’s simple, yet complete, haircutting system.

Tip 1: The clock. To begin, Sage explains that the clock is something that he visualizes as being laid out on the floor, facing the ceiling. “I look at the nose as being 12 o’clock, the right ear as being 3 o’clock, the vertebrae as being 6 o’clock, and the left ear as being 9 o’clock.” In addition to these points, which he calls primary hours, Sage notes secondary hours. These give him reference points, and guide him in creating—and explaining—any cut.

Tip 2: Body positioning. To understand proper body positioning, Sage utilizes the primary and secondary clock-hours. He says that this theory is simplest to describe as it relates to cutting bangs. “For example,” he says, “if I’m cutting a square, very straight pair of bangs, I’ll start at the secondary hour of 1:30, and cut a straight line. Then, I’ll move my body over to the secondary hour of 10:30, and cut another straight line. Finally, I’ll move my body to the primary hour of 12 o’clock, and connect those two lines together. At this point, I’ll have a pair of square, very straight bangs—which is one of the hardest pair of bangs to create, truly.”

Working in this same way, Sage is able to instruct students on proper body positioning, with ease.

Tip 3: Elevation. When it comes to elevation, Sage relates his levels to those of a clock, but he does so in a unique, and personal way. “I love to sleep,” he says, “and in the morning time, I’m more tired. So, if I’m below noon (which he considers parallel to the floor), I’m heavier and more tired. I consider that graduation land. If it’s past noon, I’m lighter; I’m starting to wake up. I consider that layer land.”

Though clock cutting isn’t a new technique, Sage has re-imagined it, and has made the theory his own. The language and simplicity are universal, making it accessible to hairdressers worldwide. Watch Sage demonstrate his technique, live, on HbLive #74.  

About: Founded by two like-minded hairdressers: Photographer and hairdresser, Randy Taylor, plus world-renowned educator and platform artist, Gerard Scarpaci. Both share a deep love for the industries professionals and the craft alike. @hairbrained_official