TAICHUNG, Taiwan (Reuters Life!) - Taiwanese hairdresser Tsai Shiou-ying has won many prizes for her cutting and decorative hair extensions in a four-decade career.
Now she has gone one step further, making decorations including shoes, brooches, fruit and animals from hair left on the salon floor after the cutting is done.
Tsai, who started working with hair in her teens and learned the skills of styling from her mother, recently showed off some of her creations in her small salon in the central city of Taichung.
Her pride and joy is a pair of high heels made entirely from human hair that for her are a substitute for the real thing.
"I personally love high heels very much, but I am flat-footed. I can only look at them and try them on, but if I buy them they will only be stored away until mold grows," the 54-year-old said.
"I can't wear them, so I want to make a pair of heels that I really like. This way, even if I can't wear them, at least I created a work of art."
Only real hair can endure the shaping process, Tsai explains. A single heel needs hair from at least three people, and she asks her neighbours and relatives to contribute to her stock. It takes a month to make a single pair of hairy heels.
"With real hair, I can perm and dye it into all sorts of different colors," she said.
"Also, in the process of making, if I need to shape the hair I would apply instant glue or super glue -- they damage plastic hair, but won't damage real hair."
To develop her hobby further, Tsai is now planning a range of hairy corsets and dresses. But her works, which also include elaborate flower-shaped brooches in purples and greens, a life-size pineapple and a black rat with bright blue eyes, are not for sale.
Asked if she was worried that some people might think her hobby is in rather bad taste, Tsai said there was nothing to fear from hair.
"All the hair was cut off on-site, and even if it was given by my friends, it would be just cut off from someone, so this won't have anything to do with taboos about dead people's hair. Some people watch too many horror movies, so they imagine paranormal events and become afraid."
(Editing by Elaine Lies and Jonathan Standing)
Reporting by Elaine Lies