Sunday, 3 November 2013

Unusual Materials - Felted Human Hair Coaster

I'm going to bet that this is the point in the blog that people are going to go "UGH! GROSS! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?" But in the spirit of inquiry, I decided to investigate whether human hair will felt up into a mat or coaster.

It all began as a hairball that has been sitting in a tupperware in our room. This cachet of hair had been retained after I gave George a haircut recently, as a kind of joke; it was like a friendly "pet hairball". But over time, I thought that hair might be an interesting material. Eventually, it seemed natural that one should eventually turn to the question of whether this hair material could be transformed into any other form or shape...

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Following some instructions from nofolete's felting human hair tutorial, I attempted to use some liquid soap and a rough wooden table surface to felt up the hairball. How you do this is that you just rub the hair into flat layers with a little soap and water until it starts to almost "seize up" into flat clumps. Make a few sheets of matted clumps and then rub these sheets together to form a thicker layer...

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I do find that the water in London is hard enough to be such that if I washed my hair with straight up soap or shampoo, it would literally clump up and felt up if without the intervention of conditioner to stop it from doing so. In a sense, this is similar to the process of making dreadlocks.

You simply rub it in very well and then iron the water out, and repeat the process until it seems like a solid mat.

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So to answer the burning question:
A: YES???

But with the hair being quite short, this piece is prone to shedding. So... um... I don't think I'm going to use this for any sewing projects soon. Perhaps I will need to mix this with other fibres of animal origin to get it to felt up convincingly well.

And in other less scintillating news, I also crocheted a normal coaster (from normal acrylic wool):

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Making a coaster like this just takes a few minutes and it also won't constantly shed human hair, and nor will it make your friends cry and make them all grossed out when they have to rest their mugs on it.

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