Home is where the hair is

ROCK, mud and ice have all been tried and tested as home-building materials.

Laurence Cawley

ROCK, mud and ice have all been tried and tested as home-building materials.

But a Suffolk woman has gone a step further - using human hair to build an extension to her 16th Century house.

Paula Sunshine, of Lawshall, near Bury St Edmunds, teaches traditional building techniques to builders, owners of old homes and those interested in past construction methods.

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But when it came to building an extension on her thatched Suffolk home, she decided to substitute cattle hair in her lime render mixture with human hair gathered up from a number of hair salons in the area.

The new extension not only has her own hair mixed into the walls, but also those of her pet dogs. She is also planning to use human hair as she carries out renovation work to the rest of her timber-framed house.

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“I do wattle and daub here using straw and the lime render on the outside is lime plaster and hair.

“Traditionally people would use cattle hair from long-haired cattle. But we don't get many long-haired cattle around here any more so I use human hair. People say it is not thick enough but you just put more in,” Ms Sunshine.

“I don't human hair is a lot different, It is just the fibre that you need the hair for and human hair does the same thing as cattle hair for plaster. It is the fibres that holds the plaster together.”

One thing that has surprised Ms Sunshine is the number of people who have underlying red hair.

“I was speaking to a hairdresser who told me a lot of people in Britain have red hair as their base colour - and that applies to brunettes and blondes.

“I've probably got my own hair in there and that of my dogs from when they were moulting.”

She said one concern some people have voiced is whether the human hair smells.

Ms Sunshine said: “I always go to female hair salons because women usually have their washed before a cut which means their hair is very clean. I have to say, my bin full of hair smells divine with all the products used and it is very clean hair.

“Besides which, once it has been mixed in with lime it is clean anyway.”

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