Victorian Hair Wreaths

Victorian hair wreaths were created as a memorial for a single family member or occasionally included hair samples from an entire family. Hair would be collected from members of the family after they died and saved in a “hair keeper” until used. Friends and living family members often might contribute a lock of their own hair to be incorporated into the wreath as a token of love and appreciation for the deceased. For that reason, many wreaths show varying colors and textures.

As a commodity, hair was light and portable. It could be woven into intricate art forms, most often flowers, by twisting or sewing the strands around a thin wire. Then differently shaped hair flowers were combined to form a horseshoe-shaped wreath mounted on a silk or velvet background inside a shadowbox frame. The top of the horseshoe wreath was always kept open as to be pointing heavenward. The newest addition to the wreath was placed in the center for a mourning period of one year or until the next person passed away. The next addition would again be centered while the previous centerpiece would be moved aside then woven into the larger horseshoe shape.

Occasionally hair wreaths were made by a church group or a school as a special project. For these, living people contributed locks of their hair in memory of their friendship or of a special event with the sponsoring group. The larger of the two wreaths at Sigal was donated by Mrs. Charles Haines. The smaller, more circular wreath was a gift from Miss Annie Heller. It is believed that this wreath may be a memorial from the Eli Heller family, of Riegelsville.

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