Rigby owns a business that makes jewelry from female human hair

Rigby owns a business that makes jewelry from female human hair

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She has compulsive hair pulling disorder and now creates hair art

Zen Hansen and artwork
By Zen Hansen hair art. | Courtesy of Zen Hansen

IDAHO FALLS – Zen Hansen would be the first to tell you that he’s always been an eccentric person with an interest in strange things. One of his “weird hobbies” is now a business venture.

Rigby, 41, owns a hair jewelry business called Women’s Hair Anthropology. The company makes bracelets, rings and other jewelry from human hair provided by customers. The purpose is to give friends and family members a memento to remember a loved one who has passed away. It may be a sentimental item from someone who is still living.

Since its launch in January 2023, it has spent a lot of time researching how hair has been used throughout history to make art, religious relics, rope, fertilizer and other items, and how it can be used to solve world problems today.

“I really wanted to know how hair jewelry was made and started researching and realized how endangered the art form is. There are still people practicing it and there are instructions, but they are very old and outdated. I teach myself how to do it and make my own tools to get the job done,” Hansen tells EastIdahoNews.com.

She now teaches classes to show people how to create their own custom hair art.

Her fascination with hair dates back to her childhood. Hansen says she’s always had a “complicated relationship with her hair” because she has a condition called Trichotillomania. It’s a mental health condition that the Mayo Clinic describes as an uncontrollable urge to pluck hair from the scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of the body.

As a child, she was given an antique portrait by her aunt with her basket-woven hair attached. It was a picture of Beriah Fitch, a whaling captain from Nantucket who lived in the 1700s. The remnants of hair belonged to him and it piqued his interest.

photo of beriah fitch
Beriah Fitch Hansen inherited the picture from his aunt. | Courtesy of Zen Hansen

He has since discovered the lost hair business and it has become a way to deal with his condition.

“If I’m working on hair with my hands, like I do with my art, I’m not touching my hands and drawing them,” she says. “It’s therapeutic for me and there’s so much I love and so much has made me who I am today.”

Making hair garlands, rings, chains and cords has been a common practice throughout history, says Hansen. Wigs from ancient Egypt still exist and are over 4,000 years old, he says.

RELATED | A traveling doctor’s bicycle and a human hair wreath are two overlooked items at the Museum of Idaho.

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The tradition of making hair rings and wreaths was popular in the 1800s. Queen Victoria made it fashionable when she made jewelry from Prince Albert’s hair after his death. Hansen says Victoria mourned her husband’s death for nearly 40 years, and the jewelry was a token to help remember her husband.

Hair jewelry began to fall out of fashion around the 1920s, but in the 1990s there was a resurgence of interest in the practice.

Hansen hopes to keep the momentum going in his business.

“Sweden is the only place in the world where (hairdressing) never dies. They have continued the practice, but will not teach anyone who is not Swedish. I had to learn from old American sources, but I hope to go to Sweden this summer,” explains Hansen.

She is writing an instructional book on table hair braiding and will present her research at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, in August.

Her biggest goal with this initiative is to educate people about the various uses for hair. He points to a company in the UK that recycles hair waste from salons to produce a variety of products such as compost and fertiliser.

It is also used to absorb oil and pollutants to clean waterways. Its website says the hair mats are used to cover storm drains. Human hair is also used to make particles, insulation panels, yarn, pots, wigs and clothes.

“You can add hair to the mud and concrete to make the structures stronger,” says Hansen. “I made my own rope and fishing line (with hair). This is a material that may have some uses that we have overlooked.

Email [email protected] for more information. You can also visit his website and Instagram page.


Fall River Propane is increasing bulk storage space for customers

Courtesy Ted Austin

ASHTON – Fall River Propane, a subsidiary of Fall River Electric Cooperative, has just completed the installation of an additional 60,000 gallon propane storage facility.

Driggs has 30,000 gallons and Ashton another 30,000, bringing the total storage to about 400,000 gallons.

General Manager David McKinnon says having more propane on hand will allow the utility to better serve customers and keep prices low.

“Our financial success resulted in a $1.5 million discount to our parent company, Fall River Electric Cooperative, to its member-owners,” says McKinnon.


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