Friday, March 09, 2012

At Least I Thought It Was Interesting...

Quite an interesting article here.

The first time I heard/read of hair receivers ^ and human hair jewelry was when I was much, much younger.  I'm sure they were referenced in some Victorian-set novel that I read.  I found the whole thing rather fascinating, probably because I--like anyone else my age (males included)--had very long hair at the time.  It has been years since this subject crept into my mind, but with the interwebs at our fingertips, strange and intriguing subjects are always just a click away.  And for some reason, this subject came to me a couple of weeks ago.

Hair receivers were a common item on a woman's dressing table during the Victorian era.  Most women never cut their hair at the time and hair was considered a woman's crowning glory.  Also, women were taught to brush their hair 100 strokes every evening, so there was quite a bit of hair floating around.  All of this led to hair receivers--a place for a woman to put the hair she removed from her brush.  The hair was then gathered up to make 'poufs' (rats) for hairstyles, stuffing for pillows, or jewelry.  By the Roaring Twenties, this fad had pretty much played itself out--most likely because women were bobbing their hair and there wasn't product to use anymore.

The most interesting part of all of this 'saving of the hair,' is the hair jewelry.  Human hair watch fobs, necklaces, bracelets, brooches were all commonplace.  (Hair also was used in 'mourning jewelry'--a way to remember a loved one who passed and keep a part of him/her with you always.)  Today there are collections in museums showing some of the work that was done with hair in the past--such as here.  (There are quite a few articles to read, should one be interested.  As usual, do a Google search.  ;))

Human hair necklace that is part of the collection at the Minnesota Historical Society.

For some reason or other, human hair jewelry creeps me out.  I understand and have no problem with human hair wigs, but the thought of wearing jewelry made out of someone's hair just doesn't seem right.  While some the examples I've seen are quite lovely, I don't want any--even anything made from my OWN hair would give me the willies.  And, of course, there are people trying to bring back the craft--again, search Google.  OR you can go here to see what is happening in the world of hair jewelry today.  I did find the prices that people were selling their hair for quite amazing--hundreds of dollars, as a matter of fact.  However, when/if I cut my almost waist-length hair again, I believe I will just donate it to Locks of Love or something of that nature.  I most definitely don't need to be selling my hair for profit just so someone can wear it on their wrist.


Anonymous said...

My grandmother had one of those hair pots. Don't think she used it though.

cmk said...

I really do believe a relative or two of mine had one, also--and they didn't use them, either. I wish I knew where the pots were today--could be worth something. ;)

Anonymous said...

I think I've seen those hair receivers but didn't know what they were. Stuffing for pillows? it'd take a LOT of loose hairs to stuff a pillow.

I have been fascinated with Victorian hair jewelery too, I got a book explaining how the jewelry was made-it seems very involved and intricate, which I'm sure ladies of the period had lots of time for since they didn't work outside the home and had servants, so it must have made a change from the endless needlework and tea-drinking. I'm too ham-handed and impatient for it.

To make a necklace like the one pictured must have taken all the hair on someone's head! They must have cut large hanks off the backs of the deceased's head and left some at the sides so the person would look nice in the coffin.

Know what gives me the willies? Sweaters made from your dog's or cat's hair. Plus, I wonder if the wet-dog smell is present when you wash your dog-hair sweater?

cmk said...

I'm wondering if the pillows that were stuffed were those little decorator ones? Still, those would even take an awful lot of hair to stuff.

I found it interesting that the rise of hair jewelry was probably due to wig makers not having anything to do when powdered wigs dropped out of fashion.

One of the articles I read said that only straight, non-tangled hair (non-hair receiver hair) was used for jewelry, so that MUST have been cut hair. As you said, I can't believe anyone could have saved enough to make some of the examples even if they tried for YEARS.

I'm not too sure I could handle using my cat's fur for anything--even though it is the softest stuff I've ever felt. ;) And yes, I would worry about a dog-hair sweater smelling--there is NOTHING quite as bad as wet dog smell, is there?