All of Ruth Gordon's interests have come together in her attempt to play a part in restoring the lost art of "hairwork". She has always been interested in history and antiques, for years has been involved is some form of journalism or writing, and has been interested and involved in many forms of arts and crafts.
Just for fun, Ruth likes to look back at some interesting parallels in her life to where she is now with hair art. Hairwork is often referred to as hair weaving. Her maiden name is "Webster" which means "weaver" ....she is a hair weaver! Ruth earned a 1st place for her entry in a "Southeastern Michigan Regional Exhibition" in 1956 for the Walker billboard company. Her work was in acrylics ...and advertisement for DASH dog food. Primary scoring points were for composition, and interestingly enough, for texture and color in the HAIR on the dog! For many years she has been the "barber" and "hair dresser" for herself and her family. Another interesting parallel is that she was born on "Victorian Street" as has become involved in the restoration of a "Victorian" art!!!
In 1978, while employed at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan-Ruth was fascinated with the collection of their quintessential forms of hairwork. In 1981 she learned how to make flowers out of hair from a man who's family handed down the art to him. He did not know how the jewelry was made.
She began researching the subject, but was surprised that (back then) - there was nothing on the subject in local libraries, or in any surrounding community libraries. There was even precious little in research libraries. Finally finding a book so old and brittle it was put on micro film, she learned to make the hair jewelry. (That microfilmed book was "The Art of Hair Work" by Mark Campbell. Three years later that book was reprinted and is readily available today). Ruth's research is on-going for the bits & pieces of hairwork history-that are often clues found in the hairwork pieces themselves.
For several years Ruth studied at a prominent jewelry studio to learn metal making, casting, mold making, soldering, etc.....to enable her to make jewelry parts for hairwork jewelry that are no longer available, to make molds of antique findings, and to do repairs on repairable antique hairwork pieces.
In 1987 she formed a hairwork company registered as "Cherished Memories". Ruth and her husband make modern pieces because hairwork is still viable to loved ones today. But, they also enjoy making what the call "authentic replicas" (play on words!) of hairwork items - being faithful that all materials are authentic to the period they represent and that they are labeled as such. They are also getting things in line to offer jewelry findings, their brand of "Hair-Rotating" braiding tables and bobbins for making hair jewelry, as well as, dollhouse kits and other endeavors.
Ruth wants others to learn the craft to spread the work around! She is currently working on a teaching video and writing a book on the subject of hairwork with history and instructions.
To educate and inform people, Ruth travels with her husband to do slide lectures (and is putting together a mail able slide show for places that might not be able to have her personal presentation). She does television, demonstrations and seminars. She writes articles for magazines, including one for the prestigious "Piecework" magazine. She frequently mentioned in books. She is in a "Warman's" jewelry dictionary, and in "Maloney's Antiques & Collectibles Resource Directory" (3rd edition).
In 1992 she formed an international society called "H.A.I.R" The acronym is
for Hair Art International Restorers.. Although membership is
still open, current issues of her "H.A.I.R. Line" newsletters have been
temporarily suspended to allow her time for finishing her book and teaching video.
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