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Today, people can visit a store and purchase embroidery or sewing patterns. In the Victorian era, the same could be said for hair art patterns! Hair art was a common craft for women. Sentimentality was important in this era, and one of its manifestations was using a loved one’s hair to create art or jewelry. While mourning hair art was common to remember those who passed, women also created hair art as sentimental tributes to the living.
This particular piece of hair art is from an unknown source. It was created using a technique called gimp work, in which individual pieces of hair are looped around wire and eventually shaped into designs.
It is unclear as to whether or not this piece was for mourning. As you can see from the different hair colors, it was likely created from multiple people’s hair. This gives a clue that it was not for mourning, but rather as a sentimental family tree. However, a fragment of a handwritten letter accompanies the hair art. A section of it reads,

“But, poor soul! He will never ate or drink anymore, and we haven’t a [?] relation in the world except myself and yer two cousins who were kilt in the last war. I cannot dwell on the mournful subject any longer, and shall…” [end of letter fragment]

Perhaps the hair art is mourning multiple family members who passed.