The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, January 19, 2009

Note to self: take lessons in making Victorian Hair Art!

photo by E. Urbach
Well, I have discovered that making Victorian Hair Art is an interesting and fiddly craft. If I can find someone in this area who already knows how to make it, I'm going to try and get them to teach me. The concept isn't that difficult, it's just making the hair cooperate with the plan that's the difficult part. And my friends and I were only attempting simple braids and coils, not the hair flowers!
Of the four of us who sat down on Saturday to make some Victorian-inspired hair art, only one of us really had anything like success (and her project is still unfinished, as far as I know, so she might have changed her mind about its success!). The false hair that I bought was the most difficult to use, as it tangled too easily and wouldn't lay smoothly. The human hair extensions that I also bought wouldn't lay smoothly because the hairs were all different lengths and couldn't be evened out without cutting off too much length. The ends of the shorter hairs kept insisting on working themselves out of the braid and sticking out; stronger hair gel, or good old Vaseline, might help. The natural hair -- cut off the heads of two of the people present that day -- worked the best, with the addition of both the hair spray and the gel. The lengths of natural hair used varied between 8 inches and 12 inches in length, and the individual hairs were about equal in length in the more cooperative braids.

Other than making the hair lay smoothly in the braid, the other difficulty was tying knots in the end of the strand to keep all the hairs in place, and then fastening the bracelet clasp onto the hair at the knotted ends. This problem still needs more research before it can be fixed. Since I used the human hair extensions, the hairs were already sewn onto a strip or thread of nylon or something at one end, so I just knotted the other end. I ended up sewing my braided lock of hair into a coil (using thread that matched the hair would have been better, but sometimes you have to go with what you happen to have) to make a piece that would fit into a locket. I would like to use a length of my own hair (which is waist-length) to try and make a bracelet that will fit around my wrist, so that I can figure out how to attach the bracelet clasps! More information later.

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)