The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, January 12, 2009

Victorian Hairwork Tea, part 2.

This coming Saturday, I'm planning to re-visit the whole Victorian Hair Art issue. My tea guild will be meeting on Saturday, and I've put together a project for us to try: making a bracelet or locket ornament in the Victorian hair jewelry tradition, using embroidery floss or human hair extensions. We will be using various techniques to do this: friendship bracelet making (remember those from junior high? Who knew we were keeping alive the tradition of hair art!), Japanese Himo braiding, cord making, finger weaving, basket weaving, and lanyard making (remember those from summer camp?). We'll be putting the finished hair work together with some lockets and bracelet clasps I got at the craft store.
The pictures to the left are the clearest ones from my previous hair art attempt: making a simple braid, to coil in a circle and fit into a brooch. Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a brooch that this braid will fit in! The first picture is of the package of hair that I used; it is human hair extensions that were in the African-American hair care section of the drugstore. The hair in the package is tied on to one long thread, which is rolled up to fit in the bag. The hair is 8 inches long. The second picture is a lock of hair about one inch wide, cut off from the long thread in the package. It has been dampened and lightly coated with regular hair gel, and has a safety pin in the piece of thread attached to the top.
I pinned the safety pin to the knee of my jeans -- like I used to do when making embroidery floss friendship bracelets -- and braided the lock of hair, resulting in what you see in the final picture. Sorry for the blurriness! The finished braid is 4 1/2 inches long from the top where the safety pin is pinned, to the knot. I coated the finished braid with some more hair gel and sprayed it with hair spray to keep the "wispies" from coming out of the braid, but it didn't really work. I need to get some really super-hold stuff, I think! This braid is not quite long enough to make a bracelet for my wrist, even though my wrists are skinny (about the only part of my body that, is, unfortunately!), but I've seen original hair work bracelets and watch fobs that are made of two pieces of hair braid, joined end to end by a gold or jeweled ornament. If I can find something similar ...
The image to the left is an antique from Morning Glory Antiques.

Anyway, I got a new camera for Christmas -- one with a *real* zoom and an *adjustable* focus -- so hopefully I will be able to get some really nice clear photos this week, and post them here.

I'm also putting together a packet of information -- just notes and a list of websites, really -- to help my tea guild ladies (and myself!) come up with a braiding pattern and technique that will work for us. It should be an interesting project.

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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)