This month’s journal entry, we want to focus on a new natural fiber that I'm using in the new collection: HORSE HAIR. Yes, beautiful luxurious hair from those elegant mammals! There’s so many reasons why I’m so pumped about incorporating Horse Hair in my designs. At the same time, there is all this curiosity that follows something new. I wanted to share some of my findings and fascinations with you...
A LITTLE SHORT VERY BRIEF HISTORY ABOUT HORSE HAIR IN FASHION
Some of the earliest uses for horse hair fall back to the 18th century. Horse hair was used for upholstery and shaving brushes. One of its first debuts in fashion was in military attire.
A dragoon helmet was an ornate style of metal combat headgear featuring a large crest and often showcasing a long horse tassel mane. They were initially used by dragoons, but later by other types of heavy cavalry and some other military units. Dragoons were considered a class of soldiers mounted on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot. Originating in France, in the second half of the 18th century, it was widely imitated by other European armies and was last used in combat in 1914. Helmets with pony tails where all the rage!
Further West, around the 1800s, a horse hair knotting technique called “hitching” was used in making horse bridles. It was a calming activity to prison inmates.
HORSE HAIR AS A NATURAL FIBER
These fibers are generally made up of proteins and consist of hairs or wools from animal.
Horse hair animal fiber can be obtained from the manes and tails of horses and ranging in length from 8 inches to 3 feet . It is coarse, strong, lustrous, and resilient and usually has a hollow central canal, making it fairly low in density
The hair can be taken from two places:
Hair taken from the mane is softest and ranges from 50 to 150 microns (a micron is about 0.00004 inch) in diameter.
Hair from the tail are coarser with greater resilience (than the mane), ranges from 75 to 280 microns in diameter and is marketed separately
As a Designer, I like how fine the density is of each strand. Because my new designs come from the horse’s tail, the strands are strong and straight.
Some articles and experts describe the hair from this region as coarse and not as nice as the mane. But I like this feature, the texture allows my tassels to stay straight as well being available to dye!
HORSE HAIR COLOR STORY
- Off white horse hair color - Imperial Stallions
- Black horse hair color - Arabian
- White/grey hair color- can be an Arabian - this does not delineate age however it is the transition stage of the hair before completely changing to white
- White/grey hair color- can be an Arabian - the grey color does not delineate age however it is the transition stage of the hair before completely changing from black to white
IS IT HARMFUL TO RETRIEVE HORSE HAIR?
So this could be controversial, as I am not a horse expert. Through research, the final consensus is that it is that it should be done by a professional and should not be cut too short . Horses primarily use their manes to swat away flies. It takes about 6-9 months for the tail grow back depending on the length of the cut. I purchase my bundles in 15 inch increments which can be cut down to make small tassels maximizing the usage.
Thanks for reading! Enjoy your horse hair Jewelry!!