4-week online course

Tuesdays, 7, 14, 21 & 28th March 2023

6:30-9:30pm Taught via Zoom by Karen Bachmann

PLEASE NOTE: This class requires supplies, a full list will be emailed upon registration.

In this four week class, students will learn about the history of–and create their own piece of– Victorian Hairwork.

We will explore–via readings, lectures, and making–the ways in which hairwork functions as a “secular relic,” and how this relates to the Catholic tradition of human relics as well as what has been called “the Victorian Cult of Mourning.” We will examine the genesis of Speaking Reliquaries, or Redende Reliquaire, and the transformation of human remains into objects of veneration, power, and sentiment. We will trace this idea to the 18th and 19th centuries, when the fascination with preserving human hair became popular as a means of keeping a physical relic or memento of a loved one—living or deceased—near. We will also examine how this developed in the context of Queen Victoria and the cult of mourning she inspired.

This course will also delve into the history of the veneration of human remains as memory objects, and participants will design and create their own memory objects utilizing classic techniques in Victorian hairwork which will be taught over the course of this class. Methods covered will include wire (gimp) wrapping, palette work, and sepia work. Other, less common, materials may also be include such a teeth, nails, pieces of fabric, etc. In this manner, animals or beloved pets may also be honored.

In the final class, students will present their final project.

A supply list will be emailed upon registration.


Professor Karen Bachmann teaches at both Pratt Institute and Fashion Institute of Design. She specializes in both fine and bridge jewelry, wearable art, and decorative art. She has particular interests in medieval memento mori and 19 th century sentimental work. Lectures, workshops, and talks include the American Folk Art Museum, Mutter Museum, Victorian Society of America, Morbid Anatomy Museum, Atlas Obscura, and Katonah Museum of Art, amongst others. She is a practicing studio jeweler and a former master jeweler at Tiffany & Co. She is a past and current lecturer and workshop leader with NYC Jewelry Week. Her studio work has been published in Art Jewelry Today Volumes I & II, and the Lark 500 series books. Written published work includes “Hairy Secrets: Human Relic as Memory Object in Victorian Hairwork Jewelry”. Her most recent publication is an essay on 19 th century mourning jewelry in the book “Death: a Graveside Companion”, Thames & Hudson.

Mar 7, 14, 21 & 28th 2023 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

These are extraordinary times and the plague has hit some harder than others, tickets are by donation –
if you possibly can £140 is much appreciated, but £100 is also very welcome.
Thank you for your support