Hairwork Wreath made by Henrietta de Grandi, 12 years old

60 Objects National Trust Collection

Made from human hair, this wreath of artificial flowers was donated by Marie Isobel Buesst, who with her husband Tristan were well-known collectors of Australiana.

The box containing the flowers holds a clue to who the original artisan was.  Handwritten in pencil on the back of the box are the words ‘Silver Medal Intercolonial Juvenile Industrial Exhibition, 1879’. Six young girls entered hair-work for exhibition.  Only two won silver medals – Henrietta De Grandi and Ada Vogler.  Ada entered flowers and Prince of Wales feathers; Henrietta a floral wreath.  In 1879 Henrietta De Grandi was 10 years old, her father had emigrated from the Lombardy region of Italy, whilst her mother had come with her family from Germany in the early 1850s.  The family settled in Ararat, where Henrietta crafted her wreath, a skill taught to her by her mother, Francesca, who was well known for her fancy work with hair.