Monday, March 31, 2014

Hair Art


The Victorians treasured hair as a remembrance of a loved one, and as a medium for . . . art!  I learned all about this, um, strange art form at a small museum in Northfield, Minnesota. 







Ladies cleaned their hair brushes and deposited the hair into a hair receiver.   My grandma had one of these on her dresser.  She wore her hair in a neat little bun, and as her hair got thinner and thinner, she stuffed the bun with her own hair to make it bigger.  (I must say, I found it kind of creepy to find after she died.)







By braiding, wrapping, and looping, the hair was turned into wall decorations, jewelry, and keepsakes such as rings, bracelets, watch fobs, and lockets.  Supporters of English king Charles I after his death were given rings made from his hair.

Brooch and bracelet
Hair was a good medium for artists because it can last for hundreds, even thousands of years, and it comes in many natural colors and textures.



Here you can see the details of all the different colors of hair used.  The catalogue company, Sears & Roebuck and others began selling hair art, and to fill the demand, scandals emerged about how the hair was obtained.  Exposes showed that European peasant girls were being shorn for their locks, and the dead were being robbed of their hair for resale.  Sales plummeted and the popularity of hair art with it around 1925.
 
I have seen pieces of the wall art in antique stores and thought, who would buy that!  What do you think, creepy or beautiful?
 
Thanks for reading my blog.  If you leave a comment, I will return your visit.
 

20 comments:

  1. This was obviously widespread practice during the Victorian times.I find it quite creepy but then is it any different from keeping a lock of hair from a loved one in a locket?

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  2. Oh wow! These are really lovely pieces of art. Like you and Fun60 though I do find it rather creepy but it makes sense for the times.

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  3. It was a custom in Victorian times - many years ago In my opinion it was a great custom but nowadays there are better ways to commemorate our relativers and friends. In point of view is a creepy but not beautiful.

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  4. We had several art pieces similar at the museum. One was made by a mother for her daughter on her wedding day. I have also seen window screen used in some of them. I thought they were all works of art no matter what the medium. You have to remember that there were no "art supply" stores so they used what they had available to them. I have also seen some feather art that was stunning. :)

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  5. I had read about this custom but your detailed photos are very interesting. No, I don't think I would like a piece like that!

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  6. Fascinating post about saving hair and photos are intriquing ~ very creative ~ xoxo

    artmusedog and carol

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  7. Some of these decorations are really beautiful and really artisticiteit. The fact that supporters of king Charles I got objects made of his hair is weird, as this king was beheaded

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    1. Yes, I thought that was especially macabre!

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  8. The twists and turns of hair-art are, indeed, interesting human phenomena. You would think that with all the lovely locks around there would have been no need to rob those who had passed on!

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  9. Lovely decorations - but creepy too.

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  10. I've seen hair jewelry in museums but never one as elaborate as that last one you show. And never for sale anywhere. Interesting historically but can't imagine wearing anything like that (even if it was my own hair, like your grandmother did). But times change. It was interesting to read about how /why the craze died out. I wonder how history will view some of today's customs.

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  11. I agree with you, I think it is creepy, maybe because it comes out of a body, I don't know.
    I would touch nails either....

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  12. How fascinating. Had no idea about the hair.

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  13. Is it maybe creepy if it's someone's hair we did not know? Or creepy for loved ones too. I did like the intricate work on the elaborate brooch on a chain, but I'm not sure I could pull off wearing it. Would you tell me the name of the place in Northfield? I get there several times during the spring, summer and fall, so it would give me something else to do besides roll down my window and smell the Malt-o-Meal plant.

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  14. This is sounds rather creepy to me ! I kept a queue of my own hair for a while, when I changed hair style completely, but as artwork I certainly don't want such a piece !

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  15. Hi,Cynthia. This post is very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Hi Cynthia, I've not heard of this kind of hair art before, so this is really interesting for me. I can see it as both creepy and artsy.

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  17. Fascinating - and definitely creepy. And I can tell I've been watching too many detective shows. My first thought was, "Wow, think about all the DNA there."

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