Traditional Swedish Hair Jewelry: A Conversation with Karen Keenan

Folk Art School

Vesterheim Folk Art School

Traditional Swedish Hair Jewelry: A Conversation with Karen Keenan

August 27, 2020 (7:30-8:30PM CDT) with Karen Keenan

Level of Instruction
Everyone welcome.
$0.00 Members
$0.00 Non-members

Many individuals during this time of pandemic are cornered into thinking and commenting about a renewable resource: hair. Some are eager to get back to a routine visit to the hairdresser, while others are deciding to let tresses grow. No doubt, hair is a meaningful commodity. In fact, during the 1800s and into the first decade of the 1900s, long human hair was used throughout Scandinivia, Europe, and North America in many ways to beautify the home and the person and to commemorate loved ones. Whether your response to jewelry made with human hair reminds you of a family heirloom or you are repulsed by the notion, please join us to discuss this traditional folk-art form, explore Vesterheim’s collection of hairwork artifacts, and see Karen’s traditional and contemporary approach to this almost forgotten folk art.

Supplies: A computer, laptop, or tablet with a camera and mic as well as a fast, reliable internet connection.

Special Instructions: Register here. You will receive an email with a Zoom link for the program.


Registration for this class has closed.

About the Instructor

Karen Keenan

Karen Keenan

As a child, Karen was interested in her mother’s hair brooch from Våmhus, Sweden. Years later, with many needlework projects under her belt, Karen read about Swedish women entrepreneurs from the 1800s who traveled from their homes in Sweden to major European urban areas to make hair jewelry for others. At the time, Karen was unaware of where this growing curiosity in hairwork would lead. Then, in 2018, supported by a Reviving Folk Arts in the Midwest Fellowship through the American Scandinavian Foundation, Karen traveled to Våmhus, Sweden, to apprentice with master hairworker Joanna Svensson. In October 2019, the Nordic Center in Duluth, MN featured an exhibition of hair jewelry, historical artifacts, and resources curated by Karen called Woven: Traditional Swedish Hair Jewelry. Following the exhibition, Karen began teaching others how to make table-made hair bracelets at the Nordic Center and at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Karen continues to be fascinated with hairwork, accepts commissions, and is eager to share what she knows with others. When not doing hairwork, she can be found playing flute, making and teaching pottery, or digging in the garden.