Like most people with pets, there is plenty of hair around (and on) me. I am positive it is on you too. In your food, your coffee, your vehicle. A badge of honour, I like to think.
In addition to the abundant and casual means of attracting and ensnaring fugitive pet hair, we also have more regimented procedures for liberating pet hair, and these fall under the paradoxically tidy title of ‘grooming’. We groom our pets using both simple and elaborate devices; slickers, combs, clippers, shedding tools, even the good ol’ fashioned thumb and forefinger. Animals also have a simple device, proven over many, many, generations. The tongue.
I know I am not alone among animal lovers in saving portions of soft undercoat from my furry family members during these grooming sessions. A casual mention of my keeping a small bag of hair usually opens the gate to a full and cathartic confession among my pet-loving new acquaintances.
When, months (or even years) after the death of one of my pets, I would find an identifiable stray hair stuck in an old collar or a blanket, my thoughts would erupt into bittersweet reminiscences. And thus I was inspired to organize pet hair into exquisite keepsakes. I have turned this hair into yarn as well as needle felted paintings and designs. This formal form of the artistic grooming of hair would produce a thing of beauty to honour my dogs. I would like to opportunity to honour your pets too.
This is how I do it.
This is Japhet. He was a beautiful Border Collie I found at a rescue organization, and adopted when he was a young adult. He was an excellent sheep dog, a stellar skijor dog, and loved competing in agility. He was smart, gentle, silly, and loyal. Although a traditional black and white Border Collie, like many black-coated animals, his undercoat was a dark grey.
This is Japhet’s hair. With a teaspoon’s worth of his coat, I am able to felt it into and around a core of soft sheep’s wool. The sheep’s wool adds physical integrity to the felt and allows a solid anchor for the pet hair. Gradually, a felted cabochon is created. A cabochon is a ‘gem’ that is un-faceted. In this case it is a gem made of pet hair felt.
Colours can be felted into, and beads sewn onto, the surface to make delightful customized designs. You may specify to Small Saints what type and colour of design you wish for your own pet's hair cabochon gem. Here, I chose an elegant rainbow design for Japhet.
The cabochon is then shaped, ‘hardened’ and finally ‘fulled’ to make the felt firm and tough. Once ready, the custom felted pet hair cabochon is glued, using jewellers glue, to the sterling silver setting and left to cure in place.
The result is a beautiful custom art pendant that keeps your pet close to your heart. Japhet-approved.