Melanie Cook Mead-It's all about Hairlooms
I don't really consider myself a collector, since I have only one piece
of hair jewelry - just a fan, and artist.
My interest in hairwork began when I repeatedly read the word "hair flower" in
the diaries of Emily Hawley Gillespie, a woman who lived near my childhood home in
Manchester, Iowa in the 1800s. When I tried to find information on how to make
hair flowers, there was absolutely nothing in print. After months of fruitless
searching, Emily's hair flowers were discovered in Michigan.
Hair flower bouquet, Emily Hawley Gillespie, c. 1865. Key of names in lower
right corner. 30"x40" solid walnut frame, shadowbox 6" deep.
Mildred Hawley, the spry caretaker of the hair flowers, led me to a lady in Flint,
Michigan, who had been demonstrating hair flowers. I took a vacation to meet Mildred
and see the hair of 50 people whom Emily had written about. We had a delightful
afternoon together. Then I went to Crossroads Village where Pamela Ehrhart, a
volunteer, gave me a couple hours of her time to teach me the lost art of hair flowers.
I came home from Michigan and taught my 9-year-old son, Adrian, how to make them.
Every time I make a hair flower,
I'm still amazed at how simple it is.
But even more baffling is how such a sentimental and beautiful art that enjoyed such
immense popularity was not preserved in books. I have made it my goal to bring this
art back for the 21st Century, and provide seekers like me with more available
My first book, The Art of Victorian Hair flowers, will be ready for the new millennium.
Melanie Cook Mead
No contact information available for Melanie Cook Mead, at this time.
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Victorian Hairwork Soceity