We’re all familiar with the traditional lover’s charm with a lock of hair in it, but what if the charm itself were actually made from human hair?
Believe it or not, this was actually common practice during the Victorian Era. It might sound crazy at first, but hair is a very personal item, so it makes sense to use it to remember someone by. Even children would often collect hair from their classmates and tape the locks into a book with the name and year written in it (how’s that for a yearbook autograph?)
Hair weaving quickly became a popular craft, complete with professionals, instructors, and casual crafters. Women often kept special jars called hair receivers to collect hair from family members or various people. Families could take their hair to professional hair weavers who would then create entire wreathes out of the combined hair. Wreathes were particularly popular because they could be displayed on the wall as a symbolic reminder of the link between family and loved ones, and they could be added to as needed. Occasionally hair wreathes could be used as a memorial keepsake for a deceased loved one, but that was not always the case. Memorial hair wreathes could be distinguished by the fact that they always point upwards, toward heaven.
Photo by Beau B
In addition to wreathes, people also made jewelry, wall pieces, and even paintings out of hair. Hair could be finely ground and used as paint for sepia toned images. Although there were lots of magazines and publications about hair weaving, and many people made it their profession, it has fallen to almost complete obscurity in modern times. However in the past few years, there has been a growing interest in the craft.
There is a growing movement to revive the lost art of hair weaving despite the fact that there is not a lot of information about the specifics available. Some especially enthusiastic crafters have recreated the art by researching other weaving methods and using them for hair. In addition, there are a lot of collectors who cherish woven hair pieces from both past and present.Sheila Scarborough