The middle of the eighteenth century first witnessed the weaving of horsehair. At the Prussian Court under Frederick the Great, the master builders preferred silk from France. One of Prussia’s first horsehair manufacturers, founded in 1762, was established in Breslow under the Prussisan State. The aim, at the time, was to make better use of locally produced horsehair to reduce dependency on imported fabrics.
After the French Revolution, the art of weaving surged in Prussia thanks to Bohemian, Dutch and French immigrants. At the beginning of the nineteeth century domestic horsehair weaving became popular in economy-minded Prussia and not just at Court, but also among the aspring bourgeoise.
Typically the fabric material is woven from a cotton or polyester warp and horse hair weft. As the weft is horse tail hair, the width is restricted to a maximum of 28″. This can restrict its usage on some pieces of furniture. There also now exist some manmade “horsehairs” that mimic actual horsehair but are a more generous 54″ wide. Horsehair is irregular in color, as seen in the top photo, and this produces some beautiful textures.
For a client’s bedroom I am planning on a custom upholstered headboard upholstered with this horsehair. It’s Rustic Chic to the max!
Photos and drawing by Joel Woodard