katie runnels

The Constant Gatherer

Victorian Hair Art

"antiques"Katie Runnels4 Comments
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.