Hair Wreaths Merged Mourning And Artistry Together, But As The Twentieth Century Approached, They Began To Fade Away Into Obscurity

aninna - - illustrative purposes only

Human hair has been used in artwork for hundreds of years. Hair art has its roots in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when infant mortality rates were high. So, saving a lock of hair to commemorate the loss of a child was common.

But it wasn’t until the Victorian era, which took place in the nineteenth century, that the practice became more widespread. Queen Victoria herself inspired the tradition of creating mementos to remember loved ones who had passed.

After her husband died in 1861, the queen entered a lifelong period of mourning that lasted for forty years. Encouraged by their queen’s dedication, cultural mourning practices swept through the nation.

While hair art is frequently associated with objects of mourning, it also became something that was used to represent tokens of friendship or to celebrate achievements.

Eventually, the tradition of braiding tresses into jewelry and encasing strands of hair in lockets to honor a loved one evolved into the fashionable development of hair wreaths, merging mourning and artistry together.

Most works of hair art were made by women. The designs of the hair wreaths were often very elaborate. Long, flowing tresses were woven around thin wire and shaped into flowers and leaves.

Items like buttons and wooden and glass beads would sometimes be incorporated into the wreaths. The finished product would then be displayed in the home in some way, whether mounted on a silk or velvet background or framed around family portraits.

Locks of hair were usually gathered from friends and family members to incorporate into the designs, although strands of hair could also be purchased from stores or catalogs.

Hair was used in other simpler projects aside from fancy hair wreaths. A piece of braided hair would be tucked into a book, and a poem or message would be inscribed underneath it. It served as a gift to show how meaningful a relationship was to a person.

aninna – – illustrative purposes only

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