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"hairlooms" by Pamela Boggess

I am so excited to find this site and would love to share my story with you as to how I became aware of and fell in love with hairwork which I so fondly love to call "hairlooms" because they are most certainly wonderful heirlooms that are to be treasured!

I am an interpreter for the hearing impaired and was on the job with a student who had been integrated into the regular school system and so was treated to a very special experience at school when a history teacher had invited a traveling civil war historical re-enactment society to come and perform in our town. Among many wonderful items of memorabilia there was a hairwork piece much like you described in your site. It was horseshoe shaped and had flowers and other shapes all
enclosed in an oval glass frame. I was mesmerized and decided then and there that someday I would like to learn how to do this wonderful art with the hair of my daughter to send down through the generations!

The story gets better from here...
I am an antique collector and thus have been to several auctions to acquire many beloved pieces most of which are at least a hundred years old. I marvel at the thought of touching, holding and very humbly now owning each and every piece. It was a couple of years after this event at the school that my favorite auction happened to have a hairwork piece up for bid.
I was astounded and couldn't leave the spot where it rested wishing but never believing that it could ever be mine. I was afraid to show the elation I felt for the piece for fear if it was reasonable at bidding time I would cause a stir and the price would go out of reach. My husband scoffed at my thinking I could even get close to owning it.

My hope grew though as I heard people making derogatory comments such as "Oooo ech! that is human hair gross! I heard like statements again and again much to my surprise! I don't think anyone there knew what they were looking at and many of them were dealers! I started to tug on my husbands sleeve and excitedly told him of my hopes and then it was time for the piece to be auctioned off.

The auctioneer started the bid at $500.00 and no one moved or spoke. He came down after a few other attempts to get it started and finally told the people that this piece belonged in a museum and unless it went for a thousand it would be donated to one. He frustrated put it aside when no one responded and stopped the bidding before I could speak. I went to his wife and asked about the last bid he said he would start at which was $100.00. I told her it was all I could really afford and could she please call the lady and tell her I would die for this piece and that I would give it a loving home! It was worth a try!

To my amazement the auctioneers wife came back and said the lady's response was that anyone who was that excited about it and wanted it that bad should have it for it needed an appreciative owner. I couldn't believe my ears and burst into tears, to the dismay of the wife!

This piece is from the south and is exactly as you describe on the is huge and is a horseshoe shaped garland of different colored flowers, a red head, a white blonde, a brunette and what I think is white from an elderly person. It is mounted in a box that was built to be inserted in the wall not just hung. I later was able to talk to the lady who sold it and she shared with me that there was also a brooch that held a picture of the lady who had made this and in the picture she was wearing it as a hair piece on the back of her head. I was amazed and thrilled.

Yes it is a great pleasure to know that I have a part of a family who lived so long ago yet a part remains with me as long as I have it in my possession. It's awesome to me still and I have had it for about five years now.

My daughter promises to continue the care of it and to pass it down through the generations too. But this is where I must say I was so excited to find your site. I still have not learned to do this and I have my daughters hair from her first hair cut when she was nine. There is a lot to work with, and with it I would love to give her one of the most precious gifts I can ever give her before I pass on. You will make that possible for me now so it is with thankful smiles(and a little misty) that I thank you for this site and the opportunity to share this story so dear to my heart as well as the opportunity to learn the very thing I have been yearning to learn for so long! thank you again from the bottom of my heart..............
Pamela Boggess

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