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Hair Art

“Hair art” or “hair jewelry” was immensely popular in the Victorian era. They were often made as tokens of love from hair exchanged between sweethearts, cherished friends, spouses or family members. Hair art could also be a type of a memorial. Known as mourning jewelry, it was made from the hair of someone deceased and worn by a surviving family member or loved one as a token of commemoration.
Hair Watch Chain This hair watch chain belonged to Mrs. McLaughlin, who died in 1860, and her husband had the piece made from her hair.
Hair Watch Chain This hair watch chain belonged to Mrs. McLaughlin, who died in 1860, and her husband had the piece made from her hair.

“Hair art” or “hair jewelry” was immensely popular in the Victorian era. They were often made as tokens of love from hair exchanged between sweethearts, cherished friends, spouses or family members. Hair art could also be a type of a memorial. Known as mourning jewelry, it was made from the hair of someone deceased and worn by a surviving family member or loved one as a token of commemoration.

Creating hair work was a popular, mostly female, leisure pastime done at home, similar to knitting or lace making. Hair art was made at special braiding tables. Preparing the hair to be worked was critical. Hair needed to be boiled in soda water for around 15 minutes. The hair was then carefully dried, sorted, and divided into strands of 20 or so hairs. Most pieces needed long hair, and each strand would be knotted at the end. Strands of hair were carefully positioned on top of the table and woven back and forth following the pattern. Requiring painstaking attention to detail and patience, hair work was a labour of love. Made into all sorts of items, from earrings, to bracelets, necklaces, watch chains, and brooches – hair art was limited only by the imagination of the maker.

Hair Wreath
Owner was sister of donor’s grandmother, Julia Kelly of Armaugh, Ireland. Hair wreath was made using hair from female members of the family, c. 1900.

Hair Wreath

Hair Wreath

 

Hair Art
Accessories, Object
Hair Art
Wooden Shoes
Accessories, Object
Wooden Shoes
Bed Pig
Household Items, Object
Bed Pig
Doll Diorama
Object, Toys
Doll Diorama
Finger Purse
Accessories, Object
Finger Purse
Japanese Collection
Object
Japanese Collection
Opium Scale
Object
Opium Scale
School Bell
Object
School Bell
Spring Board
Object
Spring Board
Swing Toaster
Household Items, Object
Swing Toaster
Teacups
Household Items, Object
Teacups
Telephone Exchange
Object
Telephone Exchange
Thomas Haney’s Cane
Object
Thomas Haney’s Cane
Fortune Teller Doll
Object
Fortune Teller Doll
Trench Art
Object
Trench Art
Byrnes Collection
Object
Byrnes Collection
Cannon Ball
Object
Cannon Ball
Phonograph
Object
Phonograph
Comp-tometer
Business, Object
Comp-tometer