University of Brighton Alumni Association

The Brighton Effect: Hair of the Dog

Textiles graduate Jade Evans reveals how she’s creating home furnishings from dog hair as told to Alice Leader.

“I grew up with long-haired German Shepherd dogs for pets and I remember their hair being everywhere. When you brushed them you’d end up with these massive bundles of hair. I’ve never forgotten that image, so when my course tutor wanted me to think of a radical idea, the first thing that sprung to mind was trying to create fabric out of dog hair. It started off as a bit of a joke until I started experimenting with the hair and realised it could actually work.

The key thing is that the hair must be brushed and not cut, otherwise it won’t spin into a yarn. Once it’s woven into a fabric, then I treat and wash it – all in a sustainable way. I spin it on an old loom, so no electricity is used in the process. Textiles is the world’s second most polluting industry, so I want to show that things can be done differently.
I’ve spent a lot of time refining my technique, but now that I’ve left university, I’ve started to create high-end luxury items like cushions, rugs and wall hangings – real statement pieces. I use natural dyes like indigo and turmeric to help the aesthetic and make it more commercially appealing.

Initially, I got the hair from dog groomers, but it was too mixed and mostly cut hair, which I can’t use. So, I put out a request on social media and now I go and collect it from pet owners who are happy to supply it. I’m preparing to go national with the venture, so I’ll be sending out eco-friendly, biodegradable bags for people to fill and return to me.
I’ve tried working with cat hair but it’s too short and doesn’t have the right properties to make it spin together. Whereas hair from German Shepherds has the same properties as wool, which makes it easier to work with.

I’ve also started to get a lot of interest from pet owners who want memorial pieces created. As their dogs get older, pet owners send brushed hair to me and I make a keepsake for them. So, as well as a statement item it also acts as a piece of personal memorabilia.

I appreciate I’m catering for a niche market. If you’re not a dog lover it’s probably not going to appeal. It might even shock some people. But I showcased my products at a design show in London recently and the reaction was amazing. For me, that’s what’s so rewarding. Seeing the buzz and excitement about something that’s been created from what would otherwise be waste material is really inspiring.”


Nic Ashton • November 1, 2019

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