Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Plaiting memories


Tiny tight plaits - a bit different from plaiting my daughters' hair!

I work in a local sewing workshop part time; it fits in very well with school, and the women there have become valued and trusted friends. We regularly put the world to rights over our sewing machines, and if ever I'm feeling low, a day or two in the workshop helps to sort out my mood and get me laughing again.

A while ago one of the women approached me with a rather unusual jewellery request;  about a year previously her daughter's pony had had to be put to sleep, and she was devastated. They had saved some of the tail hair with the thought of having it made into a keepsake but all the firms they had found online were prohibitively expensive. Would I be interested in making a bracelet with the hair for her daughter's 18th birthday which was coming up?

I will confess, I was taken aback. I had no idea such bracelets existed but a quick google showed that yes, they do, and yes, they can be very pricey. I agreed to go ahead, with some trepidation - but as I began to sort and plait the strands and create a unique piece, I found myself becoming rather emotional, thinking about the girl I knew, about how sad she had been and wondering how she would react. I found myself plaiting good wishes into that short braid. Mr DC said that he though it was all a bit odd - but I was pleased to hear she had been thrilled with it.

I select the longest hairs and place them one by one into a small bundle 

I mentioned this to the teacher at the stables where my girls ride, and she said that she knew about these bracelets and they were popular amongst both people who have lost their ponies and also those who are looking for quirky gifts for horse owners. Within a couple of weeks one of the horses at the stables was sadly put down and I was asked to make another bracelet, which I gladly did. This time Mr DC was with me as I gave the bracelet to the riding school owner, and when he saw how moved she was to receive it, said that now he understood why I had been willing to make it.




Since then I've made a few bracelets, mostly for people whose ponies are very much still alive; but this month there was sad news about the pony my girls had their first lessons on. She had died, at the grand old age of 35. Their teacher wept as she handed me the hair they'd carefully saved, and I wept as I made the jet black bracelets.  I don't know how many of the bracelets are ever actually worn; I suspect most are keepsakes that are looked at occasionally. They do remind me a little of Victorian mourning brooches, and I try not to think too hard about that. I feel very honoured to be trusted to make them. 


21 comments:

  1. Such a touching post... I am in tears! I think it's a brilliant idea, made even better because you weave your love and concern into each bracelet.

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  2. I'm filling up here, and I'm not even that keen on horses.

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  3. What a wonderful idea. I know that my mother would have loved to have kept a small memory of her horse - the bond between horse and rider is very strong especially if you have had it since it was a foal.

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  4. Oh, how lovely...i'm tearing up, too.

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  5. Oh dear ... {sniff}{sniff} ... what a lovely keepsake. They're beautiful with the little touch of silver. You're so very clever to figure it all out!

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  6. My mother has a very similar bracelet of elephant hair - not her pet elephant, I hasten to add. But I'm sure those are very special keepsakes for horsey people.

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  7. I used to think that victorian mourning broaches were odd, but having lost someone I care deeply for I would have one and If I had a horse I would love one of your gorgeous bracelets

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  8. How wonderful to have a little treasure to remind them of their beloved ponies. My littlest boy has had a couple of rides on a particular pony, and I know how much he adores her. And I remember a pony that I adored when I was little, so I can imagine how much emotion is involved. You have done a beautiful job, I am sure they are very happy to have them.

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  9. Oh my goodness what a lovely post and a sad one too. I can understand the emotions involved, personally I get so attached to animals that I can see why the bracelets would mean so much!

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  10. What a thoughtful thing to do. I'm sure they are very greatly appreciated x

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  11. These are v v special commissions, especially this last one. I think it's beautiful

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  12. What a lovely person you are, Ax

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  13. I think that's so lovely, and can understand how much it meant to the recipients of these gorgeous little bracelets. Well done you.

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  14. Oh! And the best part is the plaiting in of the good wishes. They are so lucky to have you, for your lovely heart as much as for your insane teeny-work skillz.

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  15. How lovely, I bet the recipients can feel the love that went into making those lovely bracelets. I know what you mean about creating making you feel chocked up, I made a memory elephant recently from a Grandads old hat .... I was rather shocked by how emotional it made me feel.

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  16. Such a moving post. So beautifully made xx

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  17. wow. I'd never heard of those either... but how sweet... a bit like memory quilts I guess made with old clothes. The lady who taught me how to quilt made one for an old neighbour of her using all the shirts of her neighbour's husband who'd passed away. They'd been married 76 years... She said it was like sleeping under a hug....

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  18. Beautifully made memory keepers ... these are really rather special x

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  19. Wow... how moving. Nice that you could provide just what the lady needed.

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  20. What a special thing to be asked to make, sniff sniff x

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  21. What a beautiful post! Such a wonderful idea, I never knew it existed. Oddly, I spent the last few hours searching Victorian mourning jewellery on Ebay (I was looking at jet & glass, mostly) and was amazed how many hair pieces there were for sale, I couldn't decided if it was a bit odd the idea of having a brooch made from someone's hair who you don't know or aren't related to. Bethx

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