It was fantastic to have the opportunity to revisit known skills and discover new techniques in sewing and fabric manipulation. There are numerous practical applications for the collection of stitches we explored, including mending, altering clothing, upholstering, and hemming. Becoming reacquainted with a sewing machine has reawakened a creative drive - now to reconfigure all of the unworn clothes in my closet!
In order top left to bottom right: stitch sampler, sewing two pieces together, square labyrinth, running stitch small, running stitch large, back stitch, applique with blanket and overcast stitch, tension sampler, pre-cut darts, hem stitch, slip stitch, 3D shape, circular labyrinth, soft circuit name tag, and free-form dart sheet.
Victorian's explored many ways of remembrance for those lost to them. Queen Victoria mourned the loss of her husband for three years. This time frame for mourning was established as a common practice in society, particularly for women. By the second year of mourning, jewelry could once again be worn and many women chose to wear jewelry crafted from the hair of their deceased loved ones.
"Often misunderstood as an artifact of mourning, hairwork was exchanged as a living, sentimental token of love and friendship [...] hair has specific cultural meaning as a love token." (Harmeyer 2012)
While historically, hairwork was used to memorialize lost humans, it seemed appropriate to include pets as worthy of this form of remembrance, given what an important place they hold in so many of our lives. It was my goal to use the wet felting technique, which we learned in class, to create a hairwork necklace from my cat Fi's hair. Thankfully Fi is still living, but the same token of remembrance could be created from the hair of deceased pets in the future.
Harmeyer, Rachel. “Objects of Immortality: Hairwork and Mourning in Victorian Visual Culture.” Journal of Digital Information, 2012, journals.tdl.org/add/index.php/add/article/view/7034/6302.
Initially, research was conducted on the history of mourning jewelry and the historical significance of pearls. Once I had an idea of the form the necklace would take, I was able to proceed with collecting and crafting the necessary materials. In addition to the wet felting technique explored in class, this project required me to learn the very basics of necklace construction, embroidery (French Knot Stitch), and beading. A sketch was made to help guide me in making the correct size felt balls in the proper numbers.
Felt balls were created from layers of wool roving and cat hair using wet felting. A number of glass beads were also felted around to help give the necklace a bit of weight.
Several of the felt balls were embroidered with a French Knot Stitch and black seed beads. The felt balls and additional beads were strung and the necklace closed with a filigree clasp.