Back in August of this year, I was reading The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay and was reminded of the practice of fashioning jewellery from human hair (often referred to as hairwork) that was prominent in the 19th century. Taking the form of brooches, pendants, bracelets, wreaths, and embroidery work, these pieces had a certain sentimental value as they were often made from the hair of lost loved ones. I had done a bit of research on hairwork years ago, when I first started studying jewellery, but it had since slipped off my radar. Having it pop up in the pages of that novel, I thought to myself, “hey, maybe I should look into that again…” The very next day, I headed into my studio to get some work done and my studio-mate, Chris Shute, shows up with this here dazzler…a hairwork brooch that someone had just brought to him and which happened to have belonged to a relative of his, here in Nova Scotia. The brown woven, rope-like material that you can see through the cut-outs along the perimeter of the brooch, is hair. Also, beneath the mesh in the center of the piece is a nice nest of locks. And so there I was, hairwork in hand… Needless to say, I was thrilled to have had this come around in such a timely fashion. A sound dose of serendipity to savour.
(a bit more about hairwork here if you’re interested).