Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mourning Hair Art

I  have been busy with the trinket making as well as hunting for more vintage pieces to manipulate into jewelry.. I not only use vintage jewelry in my trinket making but I also use things like buttons, matryoshka's (Russian nesting dolls), dice, old pocket watch gears.. etc etc.. So, the other night I was going through a bin of old stuff that I have and never use and found some mourning rings and mourning buttons from the early 1900's and thought of using mourning jewelry in some of my pieces.

Unfamiliar with what mourning jewelry is? Mourning jewelry such as lockets, brooches and rings, usually containing a lock of hair and/or a photograph, functioned as tangible reminders of the deceased that was popularized by Queen Victoria after both her mother and husband Prince Albert passed in the same year 1861. Queen Victoria went into mourning adorned in black clothing and black jewelry known as "jet" that lasted the rest of her life. It is said that she wore a locket in which had a lock of Prince Albert's hair everyday after his passing.  Queen Victoria obviously had an influence on fashion in the Victorian era thus it was popularized to mourn the loss of a loved one. Not only was there a certain type of fashion when mourning but also a protocol. Stages in which one would mourn that carried onto the children of the widow and the servants. Many of which lasted the rest of their days just like Queen Victoria. Never to remarry although marriage was acceptable ONLY if you were a young widow with children in which needed to be supported. Many of the young widows who remarried returned to their mourning fashion after they remarried. For the other widows they would adorn themselves in black garb, including black veils and wore mourning jewelry till the end of their days. This is where hair art became popular. It was a simple way to keep a loved one near in which turned into a popular form of art. Hair from the deceased was taken and woven into knot designs and braided. Place inside brooches, lockets, woven into rings bracelets, earrings etc,,

So, I began to look on line for authentic mourning jewelry. I wanted something different. It was also popular to take the photo of the deceased and coat it with a protective coating and worn as a button/brooche or rings. I wanted something a little different so I started to look for brooches containing the hair of a deceased person. I found a few that I am watching on eBay which I am excited about. I brought this up to a friend who was asking about my jewelry and her response was "what if you bring that energy of that person in? I hope that person had good energy" and she also brought up ghost.. To some it may be creepy so I am going to make just a couple pieces and see how it works out.  This entire hunt for mourning pieces brought back memories of moi when I would used adorn myself in black attire freaking my mother and other church goers out that I was either depressed or possessed. Shit, I was just a little goth chick that dug lace, velvet, doc's, dark lipstick, Bauhaus and Siouxie Sioux.

So anyhoo this is just a little peak into my upcoming project.. Recycling mourning jewelry. My boyfriend thinks it's gross I think it's different and obviously morbid. Last month at the Long Beach flea market I found a huge piece of art that had woven hair in it that was woven into flowers. Of course it was framed.. So, there were tons of different ways to work with hair. Here are a few pics of stuff i found on line

Victorian Hair Artists Guild
Mourning Fashion


  1. Christina RanburgerJuly 12, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    I think that Mourning hair is really interesting and people of today have something in common with the victorian era . For example lots of parents keep their children's babyteeth and I even noticed a lock of hair in my Grandmother's secret box...Later I found out that it was mine from 15 years ago ! So I really think it's a nice thought to keep hair or use hair into making pieces and remembering loved ones! My hair is over three and half feet long...weaving all of that would be a hassle! It is kinda morbid in a way to keep hair after a loved one has died but knowing that you can remember that person in that way has alot of meaning! Mourning photos ...well I have mixed feelings on..Although for a mother it might have been the only picture of their child that they would ever have....they kinda scare me only people some of these pictures you can tell that they are really dead...especially when someone is trying to make them look alive and painting over their eyelids or if someone died of a disease you can tell by their physical appearence..those make me sad...But yeah the more and more i look into Victorian traditions the more interesting they become!Thank you sharing your fascination!

  2. I highly doubt they top one is "mourning". It has at least 4 different women's hair in it. It was probably just a craft/keepsake. I would need more information for a definite answer on either.


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- Christina Sanchez