The beginning of this process starts with you. Pet Owners and Groomers, collecting up their pets excess groomed hair. The only requirement we have is that the hair is BRUSHED off of the pet rather than clipped/cut. When the hair is brushed off of the pet, the hair just dead lifeless hair. Rather than hair that is cut off of the pet is still live, the alignment of live cells within the hair strands are damaged and become rearranged. This creates the 'spiky' texture you get off of cut hair, and at the moment just isn't something that can be worked with in the studio. We do hope to develop a technique that can use both brushed and cut hair.
So far we have donations of hair coming from all around UK and Ireland! The plan is to expand our community of donators to worldwide.
In order to make it easier for you as donators, we will be introducing a Freepost address in early 2020. In the meantime please message us for further details on where to send the hair.
Any donators based in the Sussex/south-east coast area please message us your location as fortnightly pick ups are currently in action.
The studio is based in central Brighton for any donators who want to drop off.
Spinning the Hair
The hair is then spun into yarn. 'Chiengora' is the scientific term. Using a traditional spinning wheel, the hair is transformed into yarn.
The skill and technique of spinning yarn has taken 2 years to perfect, and is something that is still improving every single day.
Traditional hand-spinning with a spindle hook is also a technique that we use in the studio for much finer hair. This is much slower process and is only carried out on fine detailed commission pieces to ensure much finer attention to detail is used.
Setting up the Loom
So most people don't understand the technical terms behind weaving. This image shows the 'warp' that is made up of organic lambswool. The warp becomes the vertical threads that the Chiengora is woven into on the loom.
Being sustainable is at the top of our priorities when it comes to our values, therefore using organic Lambswool is currently the most suitable natural fibre/material with the strongest properties to use within this part of the set up.
Threading the Loom
None of this would be possible without the use of this beautiful antique. The Loom! Keeping the traditional manual skill alive, the main asset of Hair of the Dog Designs.
Threading and setting the loom so that it is ready to start producing fabrics is a lengthy process when creating wide pieces of fabrics. Every single end of wool is threaded through its own Heddle!
Setting up the loom is an exciting yet tedious part of the process of our products, but it also gives us time to think of the possibilities that can be created with different colour ways and patterns.
Once the loom is set, its time to weave. This is where the work really comes to life.
Using mixtures of different breeds, colours, textures of hair with a mixture of other natural fibres such as baby Alpaca yarn to create soft, professional and durable fabrics.
Development of different patterns and outcomes of fabric variations is undergoing and will be available on this site shortly.
When the fabrics production has finished, it is time to wash and treat the fibres. We leave this until the end of the process, as this is the most successful technique of getting the most professional and sleek finish to the fabric.
Using eco-friendly detergents and shampoos the fabrics are soaked, rinsed, and dried out. This gets rid of any smells that may be associated with coming off of the dogs.
Finally the fabrics are then placed in a freezer for 7 days to ensure theres absolutely no bacteria left in the fibres before they are sent off to be made into products.
Any extra colouring you can see in the fabrics has been achieved through naturally dying white breeds of Chiengora to create stylish on trend pieces.
The final step of the process consists of bringing the fabric to life. Creating handmade soft furnishings for the home from our fabrics. From cushions, to wallhangings and rugs; we are continuously broadening our ideas of innovation, and are excited to show you the first ever launch of products in early Spring 2020.
Each product is made in house, and is 100% handmade. This adds to the beautiful quality of the products. From the beginning of the process, where the hair starts as a singular fibre, to leaving the studio as a brand new soft interior furnishing with a brand new lease of life. Proving the circular waste can be achieved in aesthetically exciting processes and products.