Victorian Hair Work Class with Master Jeweler and Art Historian Karen Bachmann

Live Online Zoom Class

PLEASE NOTE: This class requires supplies, full list at the end of this description.

Admission: $85 ($65 for $5/a month and above Patreon members)
PLEASE NOTE: All classes will also be recorded and archived for students who cannot make that time.

The 19th century of the Victorian Era was a time rife with sentimental culture. Death rates were high due to numerous factors including disease, war, and high childhood mortality. Queen Victoria was an unlikely fashion icon and submerged herself in mourning after the deaths of both her husband, Prince Albert, and her mother in 1861.

Aside from her mostly black wardrobe, Queen Victoria was widely known for her love of mourning jewelry, which very contained hair of a loved one inside. Victorian hairwork became very popular in both jewelry and shadowbox form during the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20 th century. It transcended the concept of a wearable human relic into a fashion statement during this time period.

In today’s workshop, a new online version of our popular live class, participants will learn to create wire-work items that would be used in shadowbox creation. We will be working with copper wire and horsehair to form intricate twists and braiding that can be manipulated in various ways to form flowers, leaves, berries, and other shapes. Participants will be able to make an item suitable for mounting in a frame, or wearing as a brooch or hairclip.

This class requires the following supplies. We have provided links to Amazon for purchase suggestions for all but the most personal or basic.

1 small spool 26 gauge copper wire (or 24 if you can’t find 26). Order here.

Knitting needle # 3. You will only need one needle, so if you have some or can borrow some, that is fine! Aluminum please. Order here.

Roll of masking tape. Order here.

Skein of embroidery floss, or thin satin or velvet ribbon (less than 1/4″). Color of your choice. This will be used to wrap the stems of your flowers. Black is traditional, but any color you like will work. Order here.

Horse or human hair. Note: horsehair is cheap and very sustainable. You may also purchase hair extensions (real or artificial) at any hair/beauty supply place. Artificial hair is perfectly usable and inexpensive (less then $10) and you get a lot! Any color! You may use human hair, but again, the longer the better (at least 6″). Please you do NOT want to start to learn on the one lock of hair you have from a loved one. If you search under “horse hair craft,” you might find other colors. We recommend at least 24 inches. You are welcome to buy other colors in shorter lengths but wont’ give you as long a wirewrap to work with. Order recommended horsehair here.

If you want to mount your hairpiece on the wall. a small wood plaque from shadow box is a good option. You can also opt to make into a brooch or hair clip (you will need the mountings-also try Michaels), or put into a bud vase. If you are undecided, I will demonstrate various possibilities and you can decide later. Here is a suggested shadow box.

Beads, pearls, etc. for embellishing your pieces. Note: they MUST be able to fit onto the wire your are using! Sewing needles/thread to match hair colors will be very useful.


Professor Karen Bachmann teaches at both Pratt Institute and Fashion Institute of Design. She specializes in jewelry, holloware, and decorative art. She has particular interests in medieval memento mori and 19th century sentimental work. She is a practicing studio jeweler and a former master jeweler at Tiffany & Co. She has had work published in Art Jewelry Today, and the Lark 500 series books. Written published work includes Hairy Secrets: Human Relic as Memory Object in Victorian Hairwork Jewelry. Her most recent publication is an essay on hairwork in the book Death: A Graveside Companion, Thames & Hudson.











When: Sat., July 18, 2020 at 10:00 am

Live Online Zoom Class

PLEASE NOTE: This class requires supplies, full list at the end of this description.

Admission: $85 ($65 for $5/a month and above Patreon members)
PLEASE NOTE: All classes will also be recorded and archived for students who cannot make that time.

The 19th century of the Victorian Era was a time rife with sentimental culture. Death rates were high due to numerous factors including disease, war, and high childhood mortality. Queen Victoria was an unlikely fashion icon and submerged herself in mourning after the deaths of both her husband, Prince Albert, and her mother in 1861.

Aside from her mostly black wardrobe, Queen Victoria was widely known for her love of mourning jewelry, which very contained hair of a loved one inside. Victorian hairwork became very popular in both jewelry and shadowbox form during the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20 th century. It transcended the concept of a wearable human relic into a fashion statement during this time period.

In today’s workshop, a new online version of our popular live class, participants will learn to create wire-work items that would be used in shadowbox creation. We will be working with copper wire and horsehair to form intricate twists and braiding that can be manipulated in various ways to form flowers, leaves, berries, and other shapes. Participants will be able to make an item suitable for mounting in a frame, or wearing as a brooch or hairclip.

This class requires the following supplies. We have provided links to Amazon for purchase suggestions for all but the most personal or basic.

1 small spool 26 gauge copper wire (or 24 if you can’t find 26). Order here.

Knitting needle # 3. You will only need one needle, so if you have some or can borrow some, that is fine! Aluminum please. Order here.

Roll of masking tape. Order here.

Skein of embroidery floss, or thin satin or velvet ribbon (less than 1/4″). Color of your choice. This will be used to wrap the stems of your flowers. Black is traditional, but any color you like will work. Order here.

Horse or human hair. Note: horsehair is cheap and very sustainable. You may also purchase hair extensions (real or artificial) at any hair/beauty supply place. Artificial hair is perfectly usable and inexpensive (less then $10) and you get a lot! Any color! You may use human hair, but again, the longer the better (at least 6″). Please you do NOT want to start to learn on the one lock of hair you have from a loved one. If you search under “horse hair craft,” you might find other colors. We recommend at least 24 inches. You are welcome to buy other colors in shorter lengths but wont’ give you as long a wirewrap to work with. Order recommended horsehair here.

If you want to mount your hairpiece on the wall. a small wood plaque from shadow box is a good option. You can also opt to make into a brooch or hair clip (you will need the mountings-also try Michaels), or put into a bud vase. If you are undecided, I will demonstrate various possibilities and you can decide later. Here is a suggested shadow box.

Beads, pearls, etc. for embellishing your pieces. Note: they MUST be able to fit onto the wire your are using! Sewing needles/thread to match hair colors will be very useful.


Professor Karen Bachmann teaches at both Pratt Institute and Fashion Institute of Design. She specializes in jewelry, holloware, and decorative art. She has particular interests in medieval memento mori and 19th century sentimental work. She is a practicing studio jeweler and a former master jeweler at Tiffany & Co. She has had work published in Art Jewelry Today, and the Lark 500 series books. Written published work includes Hairy Secrets: Human Relic as Memory Object in Victorian Hairwork Jewelry. Her most recent publication is an essay on hairwork in the book Death: A Graveside Companion, Thames & Hudson.

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