Cadwallader and her family began Civil War re-enacting in 1992. Her love of the hobby led her to the art of Victorian hair jewelry. When her family became involved with the 2nd Maryland Company A, a family-based unit, in 1992, Cadwallader was asked to explain women’s attire from the 1860s at a local elementary school. Each year the artist would research a new topic to add to the fashion show. One year was parasols, then fans, another year caps and bonnets. Cadwallader researched jewelry and learned that during the 1860s women’s fashion and jewelry were influenced by Queen Victoria.
The queen’s mother died in March and her husband died in December 1861. Going into deep mourning that lasted the rest of her reign, she wore all black and later introduced hair jewelry to her attire. With the onset of the Civil War in 1861, Queen Victoria’s mourning customs became popular in the United States. The idea of having jewelry woven from hair to help mourn the loss of a loved one seemed unique and lovely to Cadwallader and she took the challenge to learn more about this lost art seriously. Visit www.benningtonmuseum.org or call (802) 447-1571 for more information.