My Summer of Love

“The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people converged in a neighbourhood of San Francisco. The city became a melting pot of music, creativity and social inhibition. As the hippie movement came further into public awareness, numerous ‘ordinary citizens’ to begin questioning everything and anything about them as a result. The hippies, sometimes called flower children, were an eclectic group. All were eager to integrate new ideas and insights into daily life, both public and private.”

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After a few philosophical posts I wanted to offer something a little more whimsical and fun to the table…

Last week the fickle fashioner follower in me stumbled across the BEST NEWS EVER… hair wraps are back! Proof. Memories of sitting on the steps of the Sacre Couer in Paris in the blazing 30* heat having my tomboy bob tended to by some bohemian Parisian man came flooding back. Then every summer holiday thereafter, the main mission of the holiday was to find somewhere that did hair wraps, otherwise I hadn’t PROPERLY been on holiday.

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When I saw they were making a comeback I got giddy with excitement, but then caught myself, remembering that I am 31 and I’m unsure how appropriate it would be to rock up to the office for work with some coloured threads in my hair. Then again, I already show up to the office with 9 different piercings and two tattoos and recently have been trying to get away with tunic dresses and sandals as appropriate office attire. I may as well just accept and embrace it…

“My name is Jenn and I am a Hippy.”

I say that, but with awareness of what actually being a ‘Hippy’ means. The word ‘Hippy’ derives from the word ‘Hipster’, which originally was used to describe the beatniks who settled in New York in the 1960’s. And Beatniks were characterized as underground, anti-conformist youths! Initially the stereotypical ‘beatnik’ or ‘hippy’ created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution and used mind-altering drugs explore “altered states of consciousness” (cited, good old Wikipedia).

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So, I ought to be careful in saying that I am a Hippy! Needless to say that the actual character description of Hippy does not apply to myself (in fact I couldn’t be further from it) but I have always had an affinity with the style that has emerged from that subculture. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it – see here.

People who adhered to this sort of lifestyle did so to escape order and conformity, to deliberately challenge The Rules and to an extent live rather aggressively (sometimes violently) in order to achieve ‘Freedom’. For me, what I like about the stylings of ‘hippyness’ is the sense of expression (there’s that word AGAIN). Which is why I am rambling on about it, because this is part of my ‘Creative Vibe’.

Recently I’ve taken to plaiting my hair almost every day because I’m growing it all out and it’s at that horribly awkward transitional phase. But it’s become addictive not having to bother about styling my hair, not worrying about having time to blow dry it or even wash it (bad confession to make publically, but oh well!). I’ve never enjoyed wearing fitted clothes for lots of reasons, but one is that I feel inhibited and like I’m dressing to please others, not myself. In loose hanging, floaty materials I not only feel way more comfortable but freer and actually very feminine.

This is all typical Creative isn’t it? Someone who screams ‘FREEDOM’ and jumps on any opportunity to ‘express themselves’. Which leads on to my next How To… After seeing the exciting news about the return of the Hair Wrap I decided I wanted to try doing some and approached my Drama students for some volunteers. Several all leapt at the opportunity to the point where I was worrying how I would afford all the threads required! As they’re about to break up for summer holidays they can indulge in expressing their identity, as opposed to the days of wearing all black and no make-up. Oh us artists love a bit of anti-conformity and so what?! The world would be very dull without a flash of coloured threads amongst an averagely brunette head. And I genuinely think some of the boys were gutted that they don’t have enough (or any) hair to partake in the frivolity.

Special thanks to Felicity, Rebecca and Hannah for offering their beautiful locks for me to play with.

How to Do a Hair Wrap

You will need:

  1. 4 + (is what I recommend, but you can use however many you like or can afford!) reams of coloured embroidery thread
  2. Scissors
  3. Cotton for fastening
  4. A piece of cardboard with one slit cut to the centre
  • Choose a spot on the selected head (!) for the braid. Take a section of hair (not too small otherwise wrapping becomes very intricate and fiddly!) and plait.

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  • Wrap the cotton around the end a number of times until the plait feels secure and fasten with a couple of knots.
  • Place the braid through the slit of the cardboard and place against the scalp of the head. This keeps the wayward little pieces of hair from getting in the way of your wrapping (I actually failed to do this, and completed one of my wraps outside with a breeze working against me, which is why I now recommend it!)
  • Unravel however many colours of thread you are using. Hold the thread together at even lengths. About half a metre should suffice. Too long and you’ve look like a mad woman flailing arms about with the long pieces of thread. Too short and you’ll run out and have to madly improvise by tying pieces of thread together (both of which happened to me!).
  • Tie the threads to the top of your plait using a double knot. Leave a short length of the thread free.

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  •  For a block colour portion of wrap, choose one colour and hold the rest of the threads as part of the plait, including the loose length from tying your knot. Begin to wrap the thread around the plait. Try not to wrap one on top of the other, but also not spread so far apart that you can still see the hair underneath.

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  • Keep wrapping until you’re happy with the length of section. Hold the piece of thread you have been braiding with tightly in place and select your next colour/s.
  • For a striped effect, take two colours and hold the rest of the threads back as part of the plait. This part requires a little more patience. Keep the threads side by side (as shown above) and carefully wrap around, as before.

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  • For a crisscross effect, take one colour and wrap as a single block, until you are happy with the length of the block. Then select a different colour thread and wrap backwards UP the block in a spiral fashion. When at the top of the block, wrap round once, then do the same back down to where you started, passing over your first spiral in a cross.

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  • Repeat any combination of processes until you reach the very end of the plait.

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  • The end can be really fiddly and personally I don’t feel I’ve mastered this yet! The braid gets thinner towards the end of the hair and you need enough length left to tie all together in a large knot. I stopped before the end of the hair on one, cast off, then took a large bead and thread it onto the loose strands. I then tied enough knots at the end to secure the bead and trimmed the ends.

 

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  • Toss your hair back and forth like a hippy.

Peace and Love guys ♥

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