Sunday, March 20, 2016

Grow your own thread


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Coming up for auction with an estimate of £800 – £1,200 GBP on April 16th 2016 with Bishop & Miller of  Suffolk is a silk and hair sampler. It depicts George Washington’s house Mount Vernon set in an extensive landscape and comes from the late 18th century.
Hair embroidery will probably appeal to very few of us and is a difficult medium to work with. It does, however, have a long history in many cultures.
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The Victorians had a fascination with “hairwork”  and people from all walks of life and society wore hair jewellery.
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Husbands would wear watch fobs fashioned with their wives hair. Locks from deceased love ones were mounted into rings and brooches.
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Ladies filled their autograph books with snippets from their friends.  Sentimental hairwork became the height of fashion and  a way to signal one’s sincerity.
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People made wreaths, rings, necklaces and all sorts of pieces out of human hair. One of the most famous guides to doing hair work was published in 1867, called Self-Instructor and the Art of Hair Work.

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Embroideries of this type and period were often stitched with human or horse hair.
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Hair was used in items stitched by prisoners of war, imprisoned in camps such as that at Norman Cross, Peterborough during the Napoleonic War.

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This incredible Georgian single hair embroidery is very finely done and uses horse and human hair. The skill required is outstanding to the point that the embroiderer was able to achieve the effect of shading by varying the sizes of her black stitches giving the work the look of a grisaille painting.

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This unusual piece of folk art made from human hair is located in the Dannevirke Gallery of History. In the 19th century poor Scandinavian women used hair as a material for craft work.
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Chinese hair embroidery is a 1,300 year old traditional Chinese art. As Chinese hair is almost always black it was known as moxiu which translates as black hair. In modern times  blonde, amber, auburn, white and grey hairs are sourced from ethnic-minority areas.
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The origin of Chinese hair embroidery can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty when girls cut their long hair and used it to weave the image of Buddha to show their piety.
Hair embroidery requires more time and painstaking efforts to complete than other kinds of embroidery .We found this video very informative.

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