Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trying something new...

So I'm going to try doing something new here on the blog, a period hairstyle of the month, every other week or so, maybe if I'm really dedicated it'll be a weekly occurrence.  I'd like to showcase a style, with citations of sources, and briefly explain how I believe the style was accomplished.  And of course, there will be photos!

I'd like to start with the style my hair is in currently, one I'm calling Norse Braid Loops. I first came across this style from the Viking Answer Lady's website on hairstyles when looking for proof of braided pigtails existence about a year ago. I know many women will wear their hair in braided pigtails with their Nordic clothing, and wanted to prove this was accurate.  Gunnvör mentioned, "women with their hair worn in two braids, falling to either side of the head beside the cheeks" depicted on carved stones from Cumbria.

So I decided I had to look them up.  I found W.G. Collingwood's article on Google Books, and copied the photographs.  I had only a passing interest in Collingwood's article about the stones, and skimmed it to see what he had to say about the hairstyles.  He says, "They have long plaits of hair curled at the ends (not aureoles nor hoods) which suggests that they are meant for female figures."  I took his paper with a decent dose of salt as it was printed in 1907.  It is clear from the images that the figures have their hair in either one or two sections, some show evidence to texture carved in, probably to indicate braiding, and many have a curl at the end of the tail.

Do follow the link to Collingwood's paper, the images there have more detail than is available in these copies.

Looking at the images, I interpret the style as the hair of the ladies with pigtails being parted down the center.  I took the hatching on the stone to mean the sections are braided.  My hair is extremely straight; I have a hard time getting it to hold a curl, and the women's hair I know that is curly doesn't curl in the same perfect loop.  Also the carving that indicates braiding is etched into part of the loop.  This lead me to believe that the loop isn't simply the end of the braid left natural, and had to be coerced into this shape.

For my recreations of this style, I begin by parting my hair down the center and braiding each section to create pigtails.  I use modern clear hair elastics to bind the ends when I get to the bottom. Then I use a large blunt needle, labeled in stores as a tapestry needle, and thick black cotton thread to sew the tail of my hair to itself in a loop. 

This is a photo from last year, a slightly surly (maybe attentive?) expression from the back of court at Egils, but it shows my Norse get up and the loops at the end of the braids.  I've learned that the loops at the bottom need to be joined for at least an inch above the elastic. This helps preserve the round shape.

Hope this give people an option for wearing their hair with their "Viking" clothing.  It's a cute style that I like, though friends have threatened to stick the loops onto things.  The uniqueness of the style helps to complete the look of my garb, and allows me to feel just a little more finished.

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