#22 February 1989
Section 126.96.36.199.022.of the Artemis Data Book
HAIR as a Resource
ON THE MOON, SHORN HAIR MAY BE ZEALOUSLY SAVED FOR VARIOUS USES
by André D. Joseph and Peter Kokh
In the early lunar settlements, many of the arts and crafts materials we take far granted will be scarce, if not altogether unavailable. Ceramics, glass, and sintered iron will be the probable mainstays for the Lunan artisan.
Byproducts of the colony's farms such as wood, pulp suitable for making craft papers, natural resins, etc. are not the easy answer. All such items contain about 50% exotic elements - lunar sources of the hydrogen and carbon components of organic matter may have to be supplemented with imports at great expense (the major savings in on-Luna agriculture will come from using lunar oxygen for the other 50%). There will be considerable economic incentive to recycle all agricultural 'waste'.
Some such products, however, might well do temporary duty as craft materials for children, for example corn cobs and sheaths, as such 'works of art' are seldom long treasured and could be eventually recycled. But permanent withdrawal of such expensive organic matter from the biomass cycle will perhaps be all but taboo and governed by strict regulation.
Recycling in lunar and space settlements must be very thorough to be effective. The penalty for not pursuing this religiously would be a much lower standard of living for the settlers. A greater portion of the income earned from the settlement's exports would then have to used to replace squandered volatiles, instead of for badly needed items to make life a little less harsh, or for imported volatiles intended for biosphere growth.
A point of diminishing returns will be reached, however, and it would serve no purpose to carry recycling efforts to suffocating extremes. We would like to make the CASE FOR AN EXEMPTION at the outset. Let us decide beforehand, that any settler has the right to keep, without penalty, his or her own shorn hair 'for the purpose of self-adornment.'
Hair? Yes, the history of folk arts and crafts shows that shorn hair can be used in many ways that will make the edges of frontier life just a little bit less rough. To be sure, hair is not a widely used material in today's sophisticated craft scene! But this is not the only art and craft area in which early Lunans would do well to research the folk ways of times gone by.
Our first suggestion is quite obvious. Young girls could let their hair grow quite long. Their locks, when finally cut, could be made into falls, braids, and wigs that they could later don for dress-up occasions as blossoming teens or as mature women. (Young boys could do the same, if distinctively masculine styles of managing their long hair were used: turbans, anyone?) Even settler recruits might adopt as an honored custom the practice of letting their hair grow out, to be shorn later upon arrival in the settlement.
Such shorn hair could also be done in macramé style with made-on-Luna beads and rings, and first worn in sort of a 'coming of age' event. This would all be but one small item in an increasingly distinctive Lunan culture. Hair based macramé could be used as well to fashion tasseled head bands and belts and interesting shoulderettes or shawls.
NSS Chapters Administrator Aleta Jackson ['89] points out that the Romans wove long maiden hair into luxurious ropes. These could be used for waist sash cords, purse handles, sandal uppers, etc.
We take for granted that upon reaching early adulthood and for most of life, frequent haircuts will probably be the rule. SAVE THOSE CLIPPINGS! They can be caught as they drop and carefully sorted by color. In the past, such clippings have been successfully ground up and used for craft pigments and stains (of course the characteristic palette of available colors will be small). 'Hair painted' home-fashioned shirts and blouses, ties, skirts, and hankies etc., could become a distinctive settlement craft much sought after by tourists from Earth.
In the past medium length clippings have been painstakingly arranged in mosaics and inlay 'landscapes' and 'paintings.' Usually, the motivation behind such time-consuming work was to provide a treasured momento of a beloved departed one. But no matter; the point is that it can be done!
Hair waste has also been combined with a resin to make rich looking beads and buttons. Even those combs which are worn by women to keep their hair in place could be made of their own shorn hair! What about shorn hair unsuitable for any of the above self-adornment uses? This can either be placed in the appropriate compost bins or used as doll hair or stuffing, again to be ultimately recycled (unless of museum-bound quality!).
The Milwaukee Central Library's craft and art reference collections contain only a few entries on the use of human hair but these seemed promising enough to warrant this article. We are sure that a more thorough search of folk customs World-Wide would bring to light additional interesting possibilities.
While on this topic, we must keep in mind that the preparations available (and allowable!) to Lunans for hair care will be almost certainly limited to natural, minimally processed ones. However, this is all the people of earlier times had to serve their needs.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto