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May 19

Girl With a Pearl Earring

I haven’t been able to do any sewing or creating in several months as we’ve been in the process of selling our home and buying a new one.  My one creative outlet has been my hair wrapping.  Today, my hobbies merge!

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring

To give a little background, the group I follow where I get the majority of my wrap ideas had posted a tutorial quite some time ago on how to do a wrap the approximated the look from this famous painting.  I’d never tried it as I wasn’t completely convinced that the technique really reproduced the right look.  I was dissatisfied with it for several reasons.  First, I didn’t like the look of the knot on top of the head; in the painting, the twisted crown portion seems to flow smoothly into the straight tail hanging down, without any knot to secure it.  I also didn’t like how uneven the bottom edge of the tail comes out in the tutorial; in the painting, you can clearly see that edge and it is pretty even across the bottom.

Of course, as a costumer, I’m also a little concerned about the rarity of this kind of wrap historically speaking.  Of course, that’s part of the popularity of the painting, that it depicts such unusual head covering.  What bothered me most about the whole thing was the assumed asymmetry of the veil/tail portion.  I wanted to see if this was supported by any other imagery from that period.

What I discovered was that my prediction of symmetry held true…for functional head coverings.  But here is the important bit: this was not true of turbans.  The images I could find seem to be telling the story that true turbans (as depicted on figures from Easter origins) are symmetrical and have no tails, but stylized turbans worn by Europeans are often shown with tails and quite a bit of asymmetry.

Once I realized that the inspiration for this wrap is more likely to be a turban rather than the more functional hair coverings (such as a kerchief tied around the hair), it completely changed my approach to wrapping it.  The tutorial takes the opposite approach, which makes sense since that is the way most of the wraps are started in our little community–you wrap an oblong scarf around your head and tie it in the back.  The key issue with this is that your tails end up being uneven, since the distance traveled around your face to the knot is vastly different from the loop of fabric in back that closes up to be nonexistent.

Turbans, on the other hand, can wrap more evenly around the head, keeping the tail ends much more even.  Also, unlike modern fashion turbans that have a knot on top (sort of the reverse of the kerchief tie), traditional turbans tend to use the wrapping process to secure the ends of the scarf under the layers, no knots required.

Armed with this new understanding, I was able to create a wrap that I’m much happier with.  The tail hangs with a pretty straight edge, and I’ve secured it with a simple straight pin so that the twisted section does not slide off my head as I teach or wrangle my own kids.  The blue scarf is simple folded, wrapped around a couple of times, securing the one end in the process of wrapping and the second end by tucking into the layers.

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