What was the process of working with hair like? How did you overcome challenges that came with mixing hair with more traditional media? Overall it’s quite a long process from sourcing the hair ethically, to tying it into bunches so that it is easy to bleach, dry, colour, wash in my bath, then dry again, then re-bunch — all before I can begin to sew onto it, knit it, and then either mould it into a textile first, or just shape it immediately using clay to make it into a solid vessel. Sometimes just preparing the hair alone can take me a couple of days.
As a material, I do find it challenging to use, as I’m figuring out on my own how best to work with it. There’s certainly been a lot of trial and error. But one thing that has stuck with me from when I was little is putting unusual things together, and seeking pleasure in making when things supposedly go ‘wrong’. As much as I plan and sketch out my ideas, I like it when new and unexpected things happen. I am in awe of victorian mourning jewellery and the specialised skills around labouring over fine and resilient strands of hair, and also wig makers. In spite of the challenges that hair may bring with it, when something doesn’t go to plan, something else presents itself which I perhaps wouldn’t have thought of otherwise – and I find that so playful. However, not clogging up my sewing machine is most definitely an ongoing challenge.