Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Victorian Hair Art {yes, that’s right} : Part 1

I discovered something last summer.  My first thought was “eeeew, that’s gross”. 

That’s still kinda what I’m thinkin’. 

While visiting Ottumwa Iowa where my parents-in-law met, their friend took my husband and me to their History Museum.  Everything was as you’d expect, history of farming, occupations, the role of women, the development of the town, the train depot and fire department evolutions, a telephone operators switchboard which was cool to see among other things.

And then I saw this (click to view larger images):


Looks like art to me, possibly hand made…but what is the medium? 

Oh wait… here are the details.


I will never be the same. 

I’m a crafty person and have an appreciation for art, but this… this is too much. 

I stood there staring at this nature inspired flower thingy – made from hair.  Not horse hair or artificial hair.

  Real human hair!  It kinda grossed me out and intrigued me at the same time, in a Ripley’s-Believe-it-or-Not sort of way. 

The guys had moved on in the museum, but I was fixated on this peculiar thing.  It must have been so very time consuming. And the amount of hair! 

Mine was long enough for something like this until Thanksgiving 2008 when I donated it to Locks of Love.  It was REALLY long.


Or so I thought it was.  Until I saw hers.


My hair was down to my waist and took about 3-4 years to grow it that long.  My guess is Mrs. Buncutter NEVER cut her hair. 

This was traditional.  Women tied their hair up in a bun, as was the style, never wearing it down in public.  I’m surprised when I see photos like this with hair cascading down.  Undoubtedly, these photos are all about the hair when you see them.  Until the early 20th century, one would never venture outside without a cap or hat.  And washing hair was done once a week – even my grandmother didn’t wash hers everyday like I do.  I digress.

My curiosity grew and I wondered… a lot.  Why did they do this?  How did they do it?  What is a hair receiver and what does one look like? 

Stay tuned for answers and more pictures in Part 2.
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