Hair Today, Wear Tomorrow

This jewelry is made of human hair. So, that’s that.
This jewelry is made of human hair. So, that’s that.

There's nothing I love more than the Victorians, especially the macabre ones. This was just one of the things I learned at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe.

Educational digression aside, the place is packed with some supercool stuff (Billy the Kid's original spurs, anyone?). Of the many happy ephemeral goodies that piqued my interest, none succeeded quite like the showcase room holding relics from the daily life of one of the state's (then territory) wealthiest families. One of the most curious things I found within those climate-controlled plexiglas display cases was a polished gold pocket watch that belonged to the family patriarch. Bereaved from his wife's untimely death, the dude had all of her hair removed from her head and strung around and among items he used every day. The pocket watch hung from an elaborately-woven chain comprised entirely of his dead wife's hair.

Apparently this guy wasn't unique. Other antebellum-era folks in mourning would grind up their lost loved one's hair into a powder that could be added to cologne and perfume. Lockets and jewelry boxes were commonly used as reliquaries for the dead skin of a dead friend. After digging around a little, I found a jeweler-artist out of Massachusetts who's taken the antebellum trend into something a little more modern. Melanie Bilenker takes strands of her own hair, breaks and shapes it, and composes meticulous line drawings depicting scenes of everyday life. She suspends the drawings in resin, and adds them to pendants, brooches, and rings. Good fun, no?

Anyway, this is my latest obsession. Check her out here. I can think of a few cracks about not shying away from fashion that might seem "hairy", but forget it.