Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Victorian Hair Art

I've been doing a little online research about the practice of Victorian Hair art. I found good articles here and here explaining how human hair was once a popular medium used in women's handiwork to create jewelry, watchbands, mourning wreaths...
Appealing to the tendency among Victorian women to incorporate the importance of friends and family into their work, hair served as a tangible remembrance of someone. Often, close companions exchanged hair as tokens of friendship. Hair was also sometimes taken after a person’s death as a means of honor and remembrance. -Helen Louise Allen Textile Museum

There is a huge collection of this delicate art form in Leila's Hair Museum located in Independence, MO. Read about it here. A must-stop next time I'm near KC!

I especially love this example of a woman's portrait 'wearing' a brooch of her own hair. One of the three hundred examples of Victorian Hair Art available at Leila's Hair Museum in Independence, MO. Photo by Richard Gwin {via}

This shadow box with a picture of a girl in mourning is lined with material usually reserved for a coffin. The wreath apparently is made with hair from the girl and the girl's mother, who had died. Photo by Richard Gwin {via}

Braided hair from family members surrounds the detailed history of the marriages and births within their family. Photo by Richard Gwin {via}

Detail from a Victorian Hair Wreath available here.

Detail of a hair wreath that incorporates
beads, baubles, and colorful thread...
I especially love the added elements in these... and I'm reminded that my creations today come by a rich tradition of women's handiwork. This example is available here.

Antique Victorian Hair Wreath offered
from Neat Curios

detail of hair work- hair was looped around a knitting needle and twisted with fine wire to create the loops.

Detail of hair work-Horse hair was often
substituted for human hair.

4 comments:

Alyssa Zygmunt said...

i've seen and admired morning jewelry with braided hair decoration but this is unbelievable! so detailed and ornate. it does remind me of your work :)

Little Brown Sparrow said...

Thank you so much for this post- I love Victorian hair work so much! It's incredible, the detail and technical skill involved in making these pieces, and all done to remember loved ones. Amazing.

Kym Hepworth said...

Hi Katie! I saw your post on hairwork and thought that you might be interested in seeing Barbara Smith's work: http://www.borderlinebarbie.com. She's using hair (and lint) in a contemporary, conceptual way. I love her work! -Kym Hepworth

.Something Else Perhaps. said...

thank you for this post, ive always been fascinated with this intricate work, and im lucky enough to have a few small pieces of it.. ive been thinking alot lately on how to incorporate it into lmy own work in a new way, so im excited to follow all the leads you have introduced! .xo.