Beauty of Horsehair.

Kestrel sent some more photos of her work, and they are just stunning. When I saw the first photo, all I had was “Oh, Wow.” Beautiful indeed. It’s been many years since I kept horses, but if I still did, I’d definitely have one of these made. Click for full size!


Sometimes when I am working hair it strikes me as so beautiful I have to stop and take a photo. People don’t realize the beauty or the character of horsehair because they don’t see it the way I do. 25-strand double flat braid in horsehair. It looks like there are 4 different colors but the hair is from only 2 horses. At the roots where the hair emerges, it is generally darker (or in the case of white hair, really really white), and out in the brush of the tail where the sun shines on it and it can be stained by plants, it can be lighter, or, in the case of white hair it can actually be darker!


The finished bracelet from the top, where you can see the section I photographed above on the left of the photo, and it’s also easier to see the slightly darker white from the brush of the tail.


The other side of the bracelet. For the owner of these horses, this will be a cherished memento of two friends.

© Kestrel, all rights reserved.


  1. says

    Kestrel’s work is amazing!!

    And the hair is about as close as I want to get to horses anymore. Anyone want some grey shire horse tail, or black percheron tail?

  2. says

    And I just can’t help but wonder if you’ve ever done a strain-test on some of those braids. I bet that box-braid (I may have the wrong term for it) up top can probably take a couple hundred pounds. That looks like the same braid-pattern as a mountain-climber’s rope, without the kevlar core.

  3. blf says

    (Equipped with primary flamethrower, secondary flamethrower, several backup flamethrowers, and a mildly deranged penguin, peeks into the thread to see if the horses have completely taken over…)

    They have, mostly.

    (Runs away screaming…)

  4. kestrel says

    @Marcus #4: LOL. Strain test? I think you could just about tow a car with it. I have not tried this. No it’s not called a “box braid”, it’s called a double flat braid. This braid is real popular in the Argentine and is known as “trenza patria” or “native braid” or maybe “braid of the homeland”, something like that. You don’t see it here much in this country. I think it’s the most beautiful of the flat braids. Also, the top braid and the bracelet are the same thing… in other words, the top photo is the start of that bracelet.

    A note on strength: I actually build in a failure point in my pieces, because horsehair is so very strong. I really, really do not want to read in the news how someone got hurt by one of my pieces. Therefore all pieces have a failure point, so that if the bracelet or whatever gets caught on something, it will either break at a jump ring or in this case, the small knots on the side that are tied in the chestnut hair will slide, allowing the person to get their hand out of the bracelet. Not that this has ever happened but most of my customers are hard working out-doorsy types and I want them to enjoy their horsehair item safely, even while they are out working.

  5. Ice Swimmer says

    The hairs are so thick!

    The symmetry, shininess of the hairs as well as the colour effects in the braid are gorgeous.

  6. stellatree says

    That’s beautiful, the variation of colors gives it depth. Kestrel, have you ever tried braiding human hair? I assume it would be more finicky than horse hair because of the thickness.
    I find horses intimidating because I’ve hardly been around them and they’re so big! It would be cool to get to know a horse.

  7. says


    Kestrel, have you ever tried braiding human hair?

    I’ve embroidered with human hair. Once. Never, ever, again.

  8. stellatree says

    Caine @ 11:
    I imagine human hair would be too brittle, it’s amazing you did it even once! :-)

  9. kestrel says

    @stellatree: I have worked human hair but man is it difficult. It is so fine that the counting takes a LOT longer. (Before anyone asks, yes, if one is going to braid hair one must first count it, otherwise the braids will not turn out even.) It’s not necessarily brittle but the strength and elasticity is not there in human hair. The Victorians braided human hair but used a different technique: they first counted out their hairs and tied them in bundles like I do, then tied little weights or bobbins on each bundle. They used either a pillow or a braiding stool (like kumihimo) and then manipulated the bobbins in a set pattern. This took a huge amount of time but during that era people were willing to pay for the labor.

    As for me I will not braid human hair now and turn down every request I get. The problem is the enormous amount of time human hair takes. No one would want to pay me for the time it takes and when I’m done it is not a a good product anyway.

  10. says

    You and P-nut have a falling out?

    Do you mean a “falling off”? We’ve reached a sort of arrangement. He and Otto hang out in their field and I don’t try to climb on their backs and make them do stuff horses don’t want to do, and they don’t try to buck me off onto my head. I don’t go out of my way to entertain them, anymore, either. I have no idea if that arrangement suits them or not, but it suits me and they’ll have a nice life out there until they don’t.

  11. says

    I’ll also say: that’s some amazingly clean hair. Did you shampoo it or something? Otto’s tail is in principle white like that but in practice it’s kind of grey and poo colored.

  12. says

    A note on strength: I actually build in a failure point in my pieces, because horsehair is so very strong. I really, really do not want to read in the news how someone got hurt by one of my pieces.

    Aha! Good thinking!
    P-nut taught me the hard way that even a loose shoelace loop was enough to pull the human out of the saddle, if the horse was cunning and passive-aggressive. (By the way, when people used to ask me what breed ‘Nut is, that’s what I usually replied: “He’s a Passive Aggressive.”)

  13. kestrel says

    @Marcus: Yes, I do wash it. I generally soak it overnight in some sort of detergent and then rinse very well. I have very high standards for cleanliness in the hair… that is a 25-strand braid and I don’t have 25 hands. :-) I occasionally hold strands, very briefly, in my mouth, as I set up the braid: thus my high standards.

    A lot of people think I coat the hair with something, but no -- that’s just how it looks. Horsehair is really shiny when it’s clean!

  14. blf says

    …if the horse was cunning and passive-aggressive

    If? If?! Spurious condition.
    The? The?! Misleading quantity. “All” is more accurate.
    Was — unfortunately there still are horses.
    Passive? Passive?! Try “laying in wait”, “seething”, “evil”, or simply “unhinged”.

    So, corrected, we get: All horses are cunning seething evil unhinged aggressive, waiting for any opportunity to ambush…

  15. kestrel says

    Ahahahaha blf -- but we are part of the NHO (New Horse Order) and they are not after us, they are after **YOU**…

    Bwhahahahahaha! **wrings hands in a cruel manner while cackling gleefully**

  16. blf says

    NHO, better known as Noxious Horse Ordure, is typically all that remains after being totally conquered and occupied by the evil equine empire. Hand-wringing, cackling, and denial are all known symptoms, as-is sticking horsehair in various odd places, such as one’s mouth.

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