Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Life On The Trail

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Hair Wreaths

Many of the pioneer women made hair wreaths to adorn the walls of their unpretentious homes. Some were purely decorative while others had a sentimental value, such as the wreath presented to President Brigham Young by his daughters on the occasion of his seventy-third birthday. The wreath was made by them of hair taken from the tresses of a number of his daughters. He treasured it very highly. Since the women of pioneer days wore their hair long, it required only a few strands from each head to supply the amount needed for this special handicraft. Sometimes the wreaths contained flowers made from blonde, brunette, white or red hair, the result being a most artistic design. White net flowers and buds were ofttimes added as a finishing touch.

The following instructions for making hair wreaths were taken from the journal of Emily B. Spencer, pioneer of 1851: Take a piece of wire twenty inches long and double it, then take a fine bunch of long hair. Wrap the hair once over a knitting needle and hold the hair tight against the needle with the thumb or forefinger. Slip the wire under the needle so as to cross the hair, both the short and the long end. Bring the end of the wire on top of the other, then cross the other end under, forming a tight twist to prevent the hair from slipping. Now wrap the long end of the hair over the needle and proceed as before until all the hair is used and all the wire except enough for the stem. When finished twist the two ends of the wire together. To make the centers of the flowers take a piece of wire and wrap around a small sewing needle a few times, slip off in a coil leaving one end straight for a stem. Use as many as needed for the flower and form the flower around these centers, then wind the stems with brown or green zephyr or silk. Sometimes a few little beads are used for the centers. For the buds take a bunch of short hair, double the two ends together and wrap with silk or zephyr to hold in place. Short hair that cannot be used otherwise is used for buds. White horse hair is sometimes used to make the white flowers. The woven hair is then formed into flowers and leaves. Oak rose, sycamore and grapes are easy to shape. For spangles wrap woven hair around and around the needle. Push up tightly together and slip off, then straighten out as desired. Work these into the wreath short or long. For a rose, form woven wire around a dozen coiled centers. Each petal can be made in a separate piece.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.