Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Horse hair jewelry FAQ

Since I had a whole book of questions to answer rather than doing it one by one in comments I will make a whole post out of it. These are your questions and some other FAQ's I got in comments and through e-mail.

How did you learn to braid horse hair?

I have always loved to braid and tie knots. I found it to be such an intricate art form.
Believe it or not I taught myself how to tie my shoes when I was three. I had a bear with a bow that would constantly come undone. I used to ask my mom to re-tie his bow. I guess I am particularly observant because I can remember being in my room when I should have been sleeping and my bears bow tie came undone. Instead of going downstairs I tied it myself. I was so excited I ended up running downstairs to show my mom who promptly pointed me back upstairs to bed. I don't think I had my parents help me tie my shoes after that. The only thing is when I tie a bow I have always made the two loops and folded them rather than wrapping one lace around the other and pulling it through. I don't know why I just can't do it as fast.

I also always braided my plastic horses tails when I was little. Theres still some of them in a box with the tails braided in more intricate ways a kid my age should have been able to. Of course when it came down to it I could braid a real horses mane or tail better than an adult with far more years practice. Indigo. One of the comments I made upon meeting her was that I really wanted to braid her long pretty mane.

I kept looking for another medium. I made bracelets of all sorts of braids and knots, my friends hair, my own I just couldn't ever get enough of braiding.

Naturally I wanted to learn more ways to braid and so I did. I also taught kids how to braid at horse summer camps and braided peoples horses for show. I paid for my equine massage therapy course by teaching people how to braid and braiding horses manes and tails for show. I specialized in natural manes rather than pulling and braiding single buttons or knots. A lot of people seemed to prefer it.
This photographer caught Suzy and I a few years ago at the parade of horse breeds. I was un-braiding after the show.

Occasionally I would get hair that had fallen out from the horses owners. Sometimes when I made dreamcatchers I would braid and attach the hair so the next step was just to figure out how to make it into a wearable piece of art.

What items can you braid?
This item is an eight strand herringbone bracelet made out of white and black hair and still one of my favorites I did even if it was one of my first a couple years ago.

I braid mostly jewelry at this time. Bracelets, earrings and necklaces are always in high demand.These are three necklaces I made for the three important people to Naigen. I took a generous bit of her tail when we euthanised her. I bought them each a special silver horse charm to remmber the old girl by.

Right now I commission (but am certainly not limited to) necklaces, bracelets, earrings, zipper pulls, key chains, stampede strings, hat bands, belts, shoo flies, inlays and some other hitched items.
Each one is unique. If you have something else in mind I am always up for a challenge.

What kind of horse hair do you use?

I only use horse tail hair for my braids. I can use mane hair for tassles often and upon special request (which will cost A LOT more just warning) I will braid mane hair but it is very fine and breaks too easily. Tail hair is the strongest and will last the longest and it's also very long.

Where do you get your horse hair?

For me to order hair by the bundle is very expensive.
Sometimes people give me hair that their horses lost and don't want anything made out of it.
For my own items I use my own horses hair and for any item any of you would request I would have to have you use your horses (or a horse that you had permission to take it's hair, ALWAYS ASK FIRST BEFORE TAKING ANY HORSES HAIR!)
Sometimes I have extra hair left over so I may have an item for sale but they usually do not last long.

Can you dye horse hair different colours?

White/creme hair for sure. Others it depends. For an extra price I do indeed dye the hair any colour of your imagination and braid it. I personally like the natural colours better.

How much horse hair is needed for a piece?

I have to add here first that I return ALL unused horse hair. If I didn't I would be up to my eyeballs in hair. Rest assured you will get all back that I do not use. So the more hair the better I will be with the piece I am making.

Secondly when taking a horses hair first brush the tail out. DO NOT WASH OR CONDITION THE HAIRS! This means no show sheen or detangling products. I wash all hair before I braid and conditioner and some shampoo's make it difficult to braid. I like the shampoo I have.
Find the longest hairs in the center of the horses tail. Not the outside where you will see where you cut, the inside of the tail below the tail bone usually. Tie a rubber band around the amount you want and cut it off, making sure the band is tight enough. Coil or braid the hair loosely and put it in the mail to me.
Of course if your horse is an appaloosa or paint for example and has different colours of hair you want to take hair from several different places or if you want to avoid making the tail thin. Label each bundle of hair when you send it to me so I know what horse it is from and what piece it should go in.

For braids such as the chevron or strip (like in my hat band in the last post which is a chevron) you need the longest hairs you can get. The piece will only be as long/big as the hair you send me for those braids. Herringbone you can add new stands and diamond/spiral braids you cannot. It really depends on what you want done.

Plain bracelets in the diamond braid generally I need 6 inches minimum and about a pencil thickness or more. When I braid I comb out all shorter hairs so they are all the same length or else you end up with picky, scratchy hairs that make the piece no fun to wear.

The least amount needed is for pendants or earrings as seen here.

What piece do you have the most demand for?

Spiral or diamond braid bracelets. They are the cheapest and require the least amount of hair. Most of my customers who ask for this are younger kids/teenagers that may not have a lot of money or a lot of hair from a lesson horse etc.
This is a beaded horse hair bracelet made for a friend of her old horse Dallas. The brown beads were the colour of his coat since he was buckskin.

This piece is from Indigo's and Sheba's tail hair. It's a necklace that I personally own and wear a lot. I bought the silver horse charm specifically for it. It's very soft and has worn well over a few years. It is an example of a "spiral" braid which is the same as the diamond but the hairs are switched around and go in a spiral rather than strait. I get so many compliments on it.

This is a diamond braid bracelet with three silver beads on it. It's lovingly worn every day by a lady who's first horse passed away at the age of 38!

This is a rather large herringbone rear view mirror decoration. I loved the way the thick braid turned out with the brown and black braid.

What hair is the strongest?

chestnut etc depends on the horse.
White is generally the weakest but it depends on genetics for any colour really.
Naigen had the most wirey, strong hair I have ever braided and she was white.

I love this piece made for the same lady who owns the beaded spiral braid bracelet of Dallas' hair. This is her Husbands horse Cruz's hair. Her husband has that zipper pull there that he keeps in his car on the rear view mirror. I love how the necklace goes from grey on the right side to black and white on the left. He is a greying anglo arabian. I love the way greying hairs turn out the best.
How many colours of hair can you put into a piece?

Generally pieces that have a patten to them such as the chevron or strip you want more than one colour hair. Any can be done with one colour hair but all pieces look better with more than one colour because you can see the true detail in this extremely old art form.

This is an eight stand round braid which took me the longest to complete it is quite intricate.
How do you secure your ends?

When I make hat bands, stampede strings etc I will hitch a keeper or button knot.
When I make jewelry I generally stitch with waxed thread then use keepers I have made myself. I used to do wire jewelry in highschool in art class so it has come in handy when securing my horse hair items.
With items that are going to be used and abused I will use shoe glue and glue the hairs at the ends. It really depends on the piece.

How long will it take for my finished item to get to me?

Normally, time depending, I will have your finished item in the mail to you within seven business days of me recieving the hair. Bracelets may be in the mail as soon as the day after and more complex projects may take more. Hat bands are a week to two weeks. I try to be as efficient as possible but I am a pretty busy person so I will generally estimate when it will be done. Of course because of people living all over the world the time that your actual item arrives on your doorstep varies greatly.

What are your prices?
Items start at $10 CAD
They can go up well over $200 CAD
This does not include shipping.

You pay ALL shipping. This means you ship the hair for the item to me and pay return shipping as well.

Without shipping here are some base prices, please inquire if something here is not listed that you are interested in:

$15- basic spiral/diamond braid bracelet.
-Basic set of earrings
- key chain basic
-pendant with bead

$20- basic herringbone bracelet OR earrings
-Zipper pull

$25- Basic spiral/diamond braid necklace
-Rear view mirror loop

$30- Herringbone necklace
- Shoo fly (for saddle)

$40-BLOGGER SPECIAL- If you seen this here I offer only to bloggers who are following my blog can get this special. A diamond/spiral braid necklace, bracelet and pair of earrings.

$65 Stampede strings

$65+- Hat bands, depending on the size and style.

Hat bands or other not listed here: Please inquire because the price of hat bands vary depending on what kind you want. I am also always open to new, challenging ideas.

All things like beads, special fittings (which I buy and not make) cost $1 extra and up.

I would love to answer more questions if you all have them. Please either comment here or e-mail me


lisa said...

Those are beautiful! I love the earrings and necklace, you are very talented!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

That is amazing!! I LOVE horsehair things. I have a celtic loveknot fob hanging from my rearview mirror in my car. Unfortunately, it's not from my horses. I bought it at an Arabian horse show trade fair.

Hmmmm, I'm going to have to give it some thought but I would love to have some pieces made from my horses.

Sometimes I am in awe at the horse knowledge you have. You do so many different things! You ARE an amazing and very talented person.

Sydney said...

Thanks for the comments. I really enjoy braiding as hard as it can be sometimes it's just something that came so naturally to me.

mrscravitz said...

I have some of my horse's tail hairs, that I want made into jewelry. I read your blog and see you have a bloggers special.
Can you email me? thanks.

Jessie said...

These are really beautiful. I will need to get with you to see if you can make something out of Dakota's momma's hair. I would love something to remember her by. The tail hair is in storage right now, though, but when I get settled and unpacked I'll have to remember the beautiful work you do!! :)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I really enjoyed reading about your childhood interests and skills and how your creativity and curiosity began. You are very talented.


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