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21 May 2015

Horsehair Fabrics - Pure Luxury

Horsehair is a protein fiber, like human hair or silk. It does not absorb water but can be easily dyed. Horsehair has been used for many purposes since a human being has lived with horses and using it in making fabric is probably one of most impressive, but challenging purposes.

Horsehair quality and length varies a lot, it can be very stiff or very fine and soft. The quality
depends on the breed, diet, health, climate... For making fabric out of horsehair the hair has to be chosen carefully.

The Spaniards might have been the first ones to use horsehair as textile the 8th. The first documented use is from the 9th century in Switzerland. The Swiss used it for the plans of St. Gall Abbey. The plans, a blueprint for a monastic compound in medieval times, are a national preserved treasure to the Swiss that were said to have been weaved with horsehair.

In the 19th century horsehair was quite common as upholstery stuffing and covering fabric. Horsehair fabrics are very durable and there is that same luxurious shimmer that linen and silk have. When you touch the fabric it is almost impossible to imagine that the material is the same that you brush at the stables...

Eliel Saarinen (1873 – 1950) was a famous Finnish architect who also designed furniture. 
His style was art deco, the Finnish art deco was called "national romantic" and it had influence 
from jugend, too.

These chairs and dining tables are originally designed for his home in Cranbrook, UK (1929-1930). They are made of birch but also mahogany, satinwood, American and European maple veneers  
are used in decoration. 

Tetrimäki Ltd continues the long tradition of Finnish fine carpentry by training new 
carpenters and master carpenters together with educational institutions. Their goal is to bring the furniture of 
Eliel Saarinen to Finnish homes and raise its profile internationally. 
The company is dedicated to maintaining top quality and preserving the unique 
heritage of Eliel Saarinen and horsehair fabrics are still used. 
Use links below the photo to see details on producers site.

design Eliel Saarinen
photo Tetrimäki Ltd
Tetrimäki hienopuusepät
photo Tetrimäki Ltd
Upholstery stuffing is horsehair, the covering fabric is designed by Eliel Saarinen and  manufactured by the respected John Boyd Textiles Ltd. John Boyd died in 1890 but he company still produces fabrics made of horse hair. The tradition of horsehair weaving is continued in Castle Cary and they use the original looms and techniques of over 125 years ago. 
John Boyd Textiles Ltd is one of the last surviving horsehair weavers in the world.

Bill Batten for Willer, photo from

As you can see the horsehair fabrics are very sophisticated and elegant.
When Nanna Salmi brushed her mare´s tail she thought that it must be possible 
to make a miniature textile, a woven ribbon, of horsehair too. 
She tried and the result of that experiment can be seen in her collection of fine jewelry.

Most of horsehair jewelries are plaited, braided or somehow twisted, these ribbons 
are really "miniature textiles".

Two rings Amate in gold, ribbons 'arrow head' and 'check' to USA

Album in Facebook

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