Leila’s Museum of Hair – Independence, Missouri – Part Two – Leila Cohoon is the very proud owner and entrusted keeper of these treasured family keepsakes, also known as hair wreaths, and is even in the process of writing a book on this lost art. Her desire is to illustrate how each piece is unique and has the ability to tell the entire history of a family.
In viewing her vast collection, she grew a desire to understand how these pieces were actually made and found that there are several techniques used in this art; however, there are no instructions that have survived the test of time regarding these methods and techniques. Instead of allowing the art to be lost to time, Leila devised a method for reverse engineering the pieces and has since discovered that there are thirty-five different methods for the various tying, braiding, and looping found in her pieces. She has been able to master thirty of these techniques and now offers classes to teach others how to create lasting works of art.
Among her greatest pieces of art, there is some American history woven here as well. For instance, one of the rarest pieces of American history you’ll find here is a brooch that was made using a lock of the hair of Daniel Webster upon his death, who some believe played a great role in the founding of the United States. Another wreath includes hair from the League of Women Voters, that is dated 1865.
The majority of Leila’s pieces are still in the original, hand-carved frame, of which many were forged of leather. Many families crafted them in the shape of a horseshoe so that more could be added as their family grew.
The works above are just a small percentage of what this two-story museum contains. Anything that you can think of that could be made of human hair is found here. Jewelry, rings, wreaths, and even postcards are available to view. The pieces have been brought here either through generous donations (many of which are via word of mouth), or by Leila’s personal rummaging at antique shops and estate sales for rare pieces of art.
Leila’s Hair Museum is a rare piece of art in itself.