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Entangled Tresses

Files from our course - laser cutting etc. 

I've been interested in hair since mine was pitch black and curly, fell to mere waves and then made my mother give me a permanent at five years old. Below are a number of notes and links and other assets relating at least loosely to this subject - most of which relate to the workshop I'm giving at Penland in the summer of 2018.  


Hair is identity. Not just something in your bones, not just something you run your wet fingers through, not just something to differentiate you from your dry peers – your hair is the soul you imagine is in your chest. You can shave and color and style it, but its essence hangs on as aura. It’s waiting in you when you’re born, it’s there in pitch blackness when you’re running away from what you fear most, and it will survive the person you recognize in personality. Hair is worn down and etiolated as sheets of time twist, are snapped smooth and folded. As your body loses water it will shrink and pull away from each strand. The white light you wander toward will be made of photons; split from your trimmings, burning at the edge of your horizon. Hair is what you tangle with in life and where you nest in death. 

Is it functional or ornamental - the hair or the implement? What are the functions of the ornaments for hair? What are the ornamental aspects of the utilitarian tools for manipulating the hair, and what are the functions of those ornaments? Is it just an excuse to think about and highlight hair, do the objects we use to care for or alter hair contribute to whether and how it contributes to our self image, to how other people see us? When is a comb or a brush or a barrette or a pick private, public, some other in-between? How have we been defined by our hair, how does someone else's hair affect us and why and can we do anything about it and if they change it will they be the same person? Is this all a Ship of Theseus or maybe it's a mistake to think about an individual or social organism as an unchanging object?


















Readings and references - each is a link to a searchable PDF of an excerpt that I scanned or found in online databases. I will also have many of these books at Penland, and more will be posted here when I get the PDFs finished. I will have photocopies of the sections I want everyone to be able to refer to.

A History of Comb Making in America

Self Instruction In Hair Dressing and Hair Jewelry

Grimm's Fairy Tales (excerpt in packet)

A book on Japanese combs (excerpt in packet)

An scientific essay on the effects of silver jewelry in the hair. 
An exploration of combs found in the excavations of Knowth, Ireland
An essay on pre-Viking Scandanavian combs

How Viking and Scandanavian ​combs in the Middle Ages were made

An essay on the African god Osun and her relationship to hairdressing

The Silversmiths Handbook

“I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy

Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty

Oily, greasy, fleecy

Shining, gleaming, streaming

Flaxen, waxen...”

All of the above readings that there are thumbnails for, as well as an abbreviated introduction and schedule are in this one PDF download - this is what I've printed and brought with me to hand out on paper. 

A shortish video that I put together about some of the history of hair related commercials:
























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acrylic, polyurethane, Corian, Delrin

lacewood, maple, cherry, other woods

aluminum, brass, copper, stainless, carbon-fiber, found objects...\

comb, curler, brush, tiara, barrette, picks, pins, sticks, clips, hand mirror...

measuring, marking, filing, sanding, etching, milling, manual sawing, band sawing, table saw cutting, planing, laser cutting, 2D sketching and drawing, CAD drafting, 3D modeling, 3D printing, CNC milling, drilling, riveting, soldering, casting (plastic and metal as ingot and into particular forms), forging, forming, threaded connections, thermoforming, electroforming, painting...

Provisional Schedule


Week One

Week one will be heavy process and tests with comb like forms while we read and sketch and make samples for a more involved project or suite during week two. Do you want to make really involved pieces, lots of experimentation on a theme, a production suite, a body of work on a particular point of view on the subject...discuss


Discussion about hair and goals for the workshop

Discussion about refining this schedule

Discussion about week 1 and week 2 projects


Slides and sketching and models of aluminum combs, refinement, transferring, cutting

filing, refinement, forming, discussion, repeat

discussion of readings and videos
Figure out what library and field trips we can and want to take together as individuals/group, writing prompt



Models, aluminum combs with fabricated scales, rivets, refinement...
discussion of additional sketches and project ideas, reading, writing, wax models for casting?


Sketching and models and revisions for wood picks or ornaments, preparing blanks, transferring, cutting, carving, refinement...
Casting, enamel, paint? Sheet metal forming, forging?
Sketching on the body/head


Discussion of ideas and motifs for larger projects - what do you want to do with the rest of the workshop and what do we need to learn in order to support that work?

Plastics and drafting and 3D modeling and laser cutting and 3D printing intro while we work on additional metalsmithing and fabrication processes. Materials for next week should be procured. Found objects?

Further discussion of larger project goals and processes and what we can do today and this weekend to prepare.

Continue to fill in demos that we started on Thursday, continue demoing and working. CNC milling?

On the weekends: go to some libraries, explore some stuff, forget all about this stuff. Or maybe obsess about it or lock yourself down in the studios.


Week Two

Week two will be somewhat more independent. One of our goals during week one was to work through some basic ideas that we can bring into a major piece or some other plan for working through week two and into the beginning of week three. Get feedback, consider collaborating with each other or other P students, get outside critique, take some risks make samples, produce







Final sketches and prototypes, begin production, make sure Phil knows what you're going to need in the coming days



Work like crazy, read, write, work some more


Make sure and pause to get help and feedback, read, write, draw, have a few regrets



Everything is failing, all kinds of doubt that any of this was worth your time, run away and go swimming or something

Make breakthrough, power through, you're doing so well that you can take some additional risks or make something that wasn't on your list...

Final sanding, polishing, last day in the studio...

Some of the benchmark/samples I've collected while thinking about this subject that I'll be bringing with me to Penland. There are MANY more.