Spooky Craft Corner: Make Fake Georgian/Victorian Mourning Jewelry Out of Your Hair (Or Fake Hair)

Be a creep. Poo-poo tradition. Mock the Grim Reaper. Or spin DIY jewelry into wearable feminist concept art.
Publish date:
January 11, 2012
feminism, jewelry, hair, childhood, superstition, witches, necklace, Barbie, taboo

I like a lot of creepy stuff. At least in theory. I don't have a taxidermy or freaks-pickled-in-jars collection or anything, but I appreciate a ghoul-y aspect.

In fact, I have a history of being assumed to be a witch, including once by a teenaged salesman helping my best friend and I select an answering machine (OK, so it wasn't yesterday) from Sears. He was like, "Sooooo, are you guys Wic-cannnn?" and at first we were like "Well, I never!" and then we were like "Cool" and then we realized we were wearing T-shirts from the Salem Witch Museum.

Several years ago, a friend was online-window shopping some antique engagement rings and turned me on to mourning jewelry, specifically lockets/rings/pendants, etcetera, made from the hair of departed loved ones.

Spooky. So for me.

Authentic mourning jewelry is collectable and expensive and 300 years old, and while I've coveted many pieces over the years (here's my personal pinterest board of hairwork and mourning jewelry), I finally came around to thinking, "I can Do It Myself." D.I.M.!

D.I.M. I may have been, because I had zero luck braiding the plastic bag of my own then-black hair clippings, but perhaps witchingly enough, using my own real hair would have left me magickly with zero luck in everything! Like an accidental spell-bummer.

And three cheers and a butt-pinch for a husband who doesn't think it's lulu to have a ziploc of your hair lying around for a couple of weeks.

As for my other supplies, Etsy served me insanely well for jewelry findings. I searched for glass lockets and received amazing above-and-beyond customer assistance from Carolyn of Antiqued. When I was too slow in purchasing my dream glass locket-thingy, Carolyn contacted me the moment she had another one to sell. So sweet.

I also picked up a rhinestone bow pendant and smoke gray rhinestone chain from her for my project. Best shop for jewelry supplies.

Where for wert the hair for my object of faux-death worship? At my local JoAnn Fabrics. I figured I could either use a wig I already have, or I could buy some craft/doll hair. Chances are, I'm going to wear those wigs again.

So I picked up some amazing platinum blond Barbie-esque synthetic hair, some jump rings to connect everything, and a black lobster claw clasp for closure.

I secured my selected length and portion of fake hair with a teeny rubber band, braided down and tied it off with a second tiny rubber band. Then I trimmed down the ends of my braid, twisted it into a little pretzel knot, slapped it between my two pieces of glass from my locket, cut away the rubber bands, and slid it into the metal part of my locket.

Learning how hairwork mourning jewelry was actually made 300 years ago was of almost no interest to me, I'll be honest. At least, I didn't want to have to learn something entirely new to get the look I wanted. And I didn't have to. Lazy success: It's not perfect, but it's mine.

The overwhelming Barbie-ness of the synthetic hair inspired me post-creation, in the tradition of art school dropouts everywhere (me), to apply concept to my piece. Like what if it was symbolic of the loss of childhood innocence?

Or better yet, representative of the death to oppression by unrealistic physical and beauty ideals set forth by society via 11-and-a-half inch fashion dolls! I mean, if you're a stickler like that and didn't just cut up your Barbies' clothes to resemble what you imagined strippers and prostitutes looked like based on television, movies and pictures in magazines, and then have them have sex with each other because they prefered it that way plus the neighbor's puppy chewed the hands off your only Ken, and as open as the Barbies were with their bodies, their minds did not expand to accept disabilities.

But it's cute, right? (the necklace)