collectors.gif (1895 bytes)

My History by Erika Borbos

My name is Erika Borbos and I have a special hobby, that is to make jewelry out of human hair. It's called Hairwork or Hair Jewelry.

I started to make hair work 5 years ago. So I have been, what we in Sweden call "Hårkulla." "Hårkulla" is the Swedish name for a women who makes  hair jewelry. "Hår" means hair, "Kulla" is another name for a girl or women from Dalama.

To be able to make hairwork has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. Eversince I was little I have seen the women in Våmhus making hairwork and I have always been fascinated by their work. So, for many years, I have been trying to get someone to teach me how to do hairwork.------ When Joanna deGrasse Svensson taught me how to make hairwork,  in the winter holiday of December 1991-January 1992, it was a dream come true for me. We worked intensively for two weeks---- early mornings to late night. By those two weeks I started to make hairwork on my own. In 1993 I got the scholarship "Årets Hårkulla" the "Hårkulla" of the year. I have participated in many exhibitions and shown my work at museums and handicraft centers here is Sweden and also in Denmark.

In my family we have 5 generations of hairworker's. It started with Ryttar Mait Jönsdotter (1834-1919). She was the first one in my family who had made hairwork. On one of her many working trips she met her husband, a Danish shoemaker, Lars Andreas Heberg. They got married and had six children, Marinus, Karoline, Johanna, Christian, AmandaKristine and Franziska. Every one of their children except Karoline migrated to America. They settled in the area of Maine. Karoline was the one to take over her mothers handicraft, Hairwork.

Karoline got married to a man named SparrErik Ersson, and they had 3 daughters. (Mait, Anna and Karin). Mait was the one who took over the tradition. Anna had a son which her mother Karoline took care of and helped to raise. Gustav was his name. Gustav helped Karoline to make hairwork, when she needed help with the pearls and smaller things. Gustav  was my Grandfather. When I was ready to learn , he was too old to teach me how to do hairwork, so that is why Joanna deGrasseSvensson taught me.

My mother was never interested in making hairwork when she was young, but her fathers, Gustav's, Aunt Mait wanted to teach her. My mother was the one who almost broke the tradition. But now I also have taught my mother(Ann-Marie) how to make hairwork, so now she is a "Hårkulla" too. You can always hope that Aunt Mait can see us, from where ever she is now, and is happy that Ann-Marie (my mother) finally started to make hairwork. I  hope that my brothers, daughter, Charlotta, who is now 15, will be the next to keep up with this fantastic tradition.

Hairwork is just my hobby. When I work, I work in Computer Network Communications at a big hospital in Stockholm. My work and my hobby are very far apart, but love to work with both and prove that modern techniques and old traditions can be mixed. I still have Karoline's braiding table, the one she used when she was out on her working trips to America, Russia, England and many other places in Europe.

I hope that this fine handicraft never will be forgotten and that my family will have many more generations of "Hårkullor".

Erika Borbos

Erika's crown she made and wore on her wedding day.

A Crown for The Bride(You gotta see this!)
Made by Ada Ryttar (1970)

Back to Stories
Hairwork Society Homepage

Contact Marlys Fladeland