Accessories,  DIY

A DIY Art Project Inspired by History and Modern Fashion

A DIY Art Project inspired by a dark history

My inspiration for this DIY art project was a striking photo I posted in the post Flower Power I wrote a few weeks ago and the story below about the origins of the African headdress.

This post started off as a DIY art project but when I researched the history of my topic it turned into something else.

Let me go back to the beginning and explain.

Headress - GaschetteGaschette Magazine, SA by photographer Lauren Fletcher

Origins of the headdress…

In 1763, Spain acquired Louisiana from France. By the late 1700’s, New Orleans had developed a significant population of free blacks because of the Spanish law, coartación, which gave slaves the right to purchase their freedom.  Coartación became a critical means of self-emancipation resulting in approximately 20% of New Orleans black population becoming free.  At the same time 38% of the population were enslaved blacks.

The numbers alarmed the Spaniards.  Subsequently, the Spanish Governor Don Estevan Miro, began creating laws to restrict the mobility and suppress the condition of free blacks in New Orleans.

One result of the oppression was the “Tignon” law, which dictated appropriate public dress for females of color in colonial society.  It was forbidden for these women to wear jewels and plumes or anything ostentatious in their hair.  

The Tignon law required all African-Creole women to wear their hair bound in a “tignon” or headscarf, as a symbol of their second class status.

Anthony Meucci painting of Juliet Noel (Mrs Pierre Toussaint)Juliet Noel Toussaint in a tignon painted by Anthony Meucci.   Juliet was wife of Pierre Toussaint, a former slave that bought his and his wife’s freedom.

But creativity one the day and the law backfired on the oppressors.  Women of color and some Caucasian women turned the required “tignon” into a fashion statement turning head rag wearing into elaborate and beautiful headdresses.  The custom spread throughout the Caribbean and today it is a part of the cultural dress in many African countries.


african-head-wrapsModern woman in a traditional head wrap

AFROPUNK HeadressThe Headress is popular in Afro-punk style.

I have always admired beautiful fabric headdresses and the art of wrapping them.  Their beauty, sculptural quality and story of their origin inspired me to create this DIY art project.

My DIY Art Project was inspired by the “Tignon” Headress.  Here’s a look at my collage.

drawing - DIY Headress Collage


Board cut out - DIY Art Headress


WIP face - DIY art collage - Splendid Habitat


Background - DIY Art Collage


Headress collage - Elle Gibson Splendid Habitat


DIY Art Project - Splendid Habitat

All I have to do now is find a place to hang it.  You can make your own art!

Art is an important part of finishing any room.   It doesn’t have to be expensive to do the job.  You can create your own.

Until next time …

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