Hair and Pet Fur Creative Reuse

Can you creatively reuse natural or synthetic hair? It seems like such a personal item that you might want to just put it in the trash. But for centuries, people have been incorporating hair into art and craft. Plus innovators are finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of synthetic hair.

You can listen to this original podcast episode about the creative reuse of hair or fur from October 2020 in this YouTube video:

Can You Compost Hair?

Yes, it just takes a very long time – much longer than most other materials – so some people do not put it in the compost. Also if you plan on using the compost to add nutrients to soil to be used for food plants, some people are concerned about the chemicals in some people’s hair. Instead, some gardeners use hair in the garden to repel deer.

Victorian Hair Crafts

Queen Victoria mourned her husband Albert for many decades. This created a trend in art to make mementos mori, or crafts related to mourning. One example was hairwork, or jewelry made from hair.

Contemporary Hair Artists

Spencer Merolla – Spencer’s work looks like mosaics made from wood, except the wood grain is really made from hair

Chi Nyugen – Chi does an annual performance art piece where she weaves locks of hair in memory of a past lover and as a fundraiser for suicide prevention.

Laetitia Ky – hair sculpture artist with her own hair still attached to her body

Noora Schroderus – Hairy Herbarium show featured sculptures that looked like plant specimens but were actually made from hair

Jenni Duttondress made from hair gathered from a hairdresser’s shop

Mark Bradford – His artistic journey started in his mother’s hair salon in South Los Angeles. Now his works sell for millions of dollars and he started a non-profit to help young adults transitioning out of foster care right where the hair salon was located.

View of Mark Bradford's work Pickett's Charge at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum - photo shows many layers of papers and ropes along a curved wall to make a colorful mural
View of Mark Bradford’s work Pickett’s Charge at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum, November 2019

Pet Hair or Fur

Noora Schroderus did an exhibit where she wrote the names of dogs using dog hair.

Ryo and Hiromi Yamazaki are famous for making hats for their cats – felted from their cats’ own fur.

Jeannie Sanke spins yarn from the fur she retrieves when brushing her dogs. She also makes memorial items from the fur of dogs who have passed away.

Donating Hair

Many organizations such as Locks of Love and Wigs 4 Kids appreciate hair donations that are at least 10 inches long.

Making Synthetic Hair More Sustainable

Rebundle gathers synthetic hair to make sure it is recycled instead of going to landfill. Check out this interview with founder Ciara Imani May:

Lillian Augusta is making synthetic hair from invasive plants called phragmites.

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