Hair, jewelry, memory, life.
Those of you who've known me for a while, have probably at some point or another been locked into conversation with me while I've gone on a monologue rant about human hair, memory, art and jewelry. When I think about these intersections and the work that artists and makers have already spurred from their hairy veins- I get excited. Like, kid-discovered-cavernous-mud-pitt excited.
I will get out books and pictures and tangentially rant for hours about the subject before I show you pictures of hairy pillows I made in college and the gorgeous hair weaving table an old friend so generously crafted and gifted to me when she noticed I was collecting bags upon bags of other people's hair.
Did you know that when you store hair, it nests itself? If you cut off a long ponytail and put it nicely into a paper sack without a rubber band around it, and then stored it gently in your attic for a few years.. next time you took it out you'd find a nested, knotted, wound up pile you didn't recognize. Isn't that SO beautiful and strange to think about? See...? Ranting.
It's the invisible systems that get me all riled up. Underground pipes, the sewer system, energetic exchanges between lovers and friends and yes- hair. Hair isn't really invisible- but when you remove it from the body and isolate it in a little piece of wearable artwork- the context changes so significantly that it might as well be invisible. Does it carry the same energetic and identifying weight and value as it did when it was on its body or origin? Can one connect to a person through their hair if it isn't on the body any longer?
Hair is the only thing on the human body besides finger and toenails that continues to exist on the body after it has died. And like finger and toenails- it is deemed this crucial element of self-identity in coiffable or cuttable style, and once it has been removed from the body, is considered disgusting and even unsanitary. I've always had a minor (minor?) obsession with human hair and how it is used in art making.
Do you know about mourning jewelry? Here is a quick intro to the stories, origins and hidden secrets encapsulated in these Victorian era jewelry pieces.
Mourning jewelry wasn't just made for the deceased- it was also made to commemorate and celebrate the lives of the living.
Since my son River was born, I haven't been able to stop thinking about making modern forms of mourning jewelry to memorialize these young years of childhood and to make secret, beautiful spaces for those first locks of cut hair we save from our children. I didn't want to put River's hair into a box or a book, I wanted to be able to wear it, and keep a little tiny piece of him close to me when we're apart. So I made this hollow form Silver ring with a lock of his hair set under magnified glass.
This week, I'm working on a series of modern mourning jewelry pieces that feature the hair of young children, whose parents wish to turn their kids locks into keepsakes. Stay posted for more pics and let me know in the comments if you have any mourning jewelry that's stayed through the lineage of your own family!
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