Amish women let their hair grow, so they have a lot of it. Hair pins keep all those locks in place, up underneath a prayer covering.
I thought I’d give you a look at some plain hair pins. I picked these up at an Amish dry goods shop (not for personal use, demonstration purposes only, ha-ha).
They’re thick and sturdy, about 3 inches long, and have pointed but slightly rounded ends. Made to hold a lot of hair.
A Lancaster Amish acquaintance of mine makes hair pins part-time. Last year he was featured in a Time magazine piece on Amish business:
Daniel Fisher, 36, painstakingly manufactures wire hairpins at his home workshop in the village of Bird-in-Hand, Pa. The hairpins are intended for Amish and Mennonite women, who keep their hair swept up. The work is “extremely tedious,” he admits, but adds, “I enjoy being with my wife and kids so we can work together.”
Dan has a passion for pins. Walking through his workshop, he talked up his pins’ especially rounded ends–to keep them from catching on individual strands of hair–and their durability as big selling points.
Here is Dan’s basement “pin mill”, and some of his machinery:
A contraption for every task:
Pins by the bucketful:
And packages ready for the door:
Read more on why Amish women cover their hair.
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Where can I get some Amish made hairpins? How much should they cost?
Amish hair pins excellence
I bought those same hair pins abt ten yrs ago from plain & simple head coverings (no stores near me) when they were $1.25 a ok and $0.75 shipping!! I just lost my last 2 in the couch so I got on and ordered 2 more packs. I love them!! They have never rusted and never made my head sore. Input my hair up everyday, all day. I have given a few pks as gifts too. They are beautiful in their simplicity. Thx for the chance to sing their praises! Oh! And they still sell them at that website! Happy hunting!
Ingenious Home Business
What an ingenious home business for someone. I can see where it can be quite tedious but I am sure the ability to make a living from home out weights that. I admire their ingenuity. They see a need and turn it into a business. What a pretty cool idea!!
Lissy, I am not sure where you live but if near any Amish settlement you should be able to find them in an Amish Dry Goods Store or even Bulk Foods stores often carry them. As for price I am not sure, but I do not imagine much more than $2 or $3 depending on the size package.
Alice you’re right, and Dan enjoys it. And like it says in the article the family side is a big part of it for him.
What I didn’t mention in the post is that he designed much if not all of his equipment too. Which is pretty impressive when you see some of the machinery. He’s a regular engineer/inventor.
That would be a good business to have since it’s something you know is going to be used all the time. There will always be a need for those items. And, Erik, glad to see you use them for demonstation purposes only…lol. Keep up the excellent work on your articles. I look forward to them each day.
Kathy in TN
I have a web site to buy those Amish hair pins !
Good morning everyone, And nice job Erik i always enjoy seeing how folks make things and this particular product id say would be recession proof in the plain community. Here is a web site to buy these pins as i saw someone has asked, these folk also sell prayer kapps and head Coverings. Those Amish hair pins here are 3.00, and here is that web site www.plainlydressed.com look under Veils and accessories to find those pins. Richard from www.Amishstorys.com
amish hair pins
I have purchases a kapp and pins from ‘plainlydressed.com’s
The pin are great, but I want everyone to know, I bought these back in Feb of this year. It took over 7 emails and 4 phone calls to get my stuff. And I’m Not the only one that has had this problem. The betterbuiness bearu, give plainlydressed.com an F rating for people receiving their purchases! Beware!
BEWARE Plainly Dressed
I ordered their hair pins 10+ weeks ago. I have emailed repeatedly and received no response. Their website says it can take 8 weeks for custom orders (I wouldn’t classify hair pins as a custom order). After my final, more irritated email, I received 2 automated emails saying my order shipped and listed the tracking number. According to the tracking number, it was delivered yesterday (3/1) at 3:30 p.m. I still don’t have it. I emailed Kimberly Hamme again and this time (the 1st time), I actually received an email from her. She said that when an order leaves her hands, it is now in the hands of the post office and I need to contact them! I understand I need to call the post office on Monday and I will, but one would think that the owner of a business would have SOME concern that their customer hasn’t received an item that says was delivered. Luckily, I paid with a credit card and can EASILY reverse the charges. I would NOT recommend using Plainly Dressed.
Where to buy hair pins?
Sounds like you are not the only one Jody–there is chantel’s similar comment above, and there are numerous other complaints on the web about Plainly Dressed:
So if I were looking for hairpins, I would probably look elsewhere. If you’re near an Amish community they’re pretty commonly available in Amish shops.
There are some other options listed by commenters above & below including GVS and Mennonite Maidens. I don’t have much experience buying hairpins but you can do a little digging.
I’d also suggest Amish Workshops, who carry a variety of pins online (different sizes, straight and crinkled). They have advertised with us in the past and work with Amish in the Midwest:
From the description:
Daniel, the Amishman who makes these pins in his shop, uses sturdy stainless steel with pointed but slightly rounded ends. And you can be sure he does quality work as he has to answer to all the women in his household who use his pins! Unlike the bobby pin which bends easily, these thick pins retain their shape keeping your hair together all day.
Hairpins in Stock
We have these hairpins in stock and usually ship next business day. Visit http://www.amishworkshops.com/category/Amish-Hairpins-70
Those hair pins sure look stronger than the ones we can buy in the store.
Lissy, you can buy these hairpins from GVS for 1.89 per dozen. 1-800-398-2494 They have a nice mail order catalog if you are interested. You can request one for free.
I used these as a Mennonite girl. I had to wear my hair in a bun and of course my hair was not cut and I wore a covering. Those pins are strong and I would get a sore sometimes because they would rub the scalp.
What a memory!
Donna ouch! I hope we didn’t bring back bad memories for you here 🙂
Amish Hair Pins
Mennonite Maidens carries these as does Plain n Simple Headcoverings. They cost about $3/bundle. The GVS ones won’t be as big or sturdy. Check my blog (Anglican, Plain – http link should be there under my name, above) for web pages etc that sell pins and coverings. I haven’t bought any of these myself, as sometimes shipping things to Canada costs more than the item. I use what we used to call “roller pins” – they look like big bobby pins. But being of Gaelic background rather than Swiss-German, I don’t have the thick hair of Amish Mennonite women, and although my hair is uncut for ten years, it is as fine as baby hair. It doesn’t take much to hold it in place. Donna mentions that if not carefully placed, the hair pins can be painful. As little Baptist girls, soemtimes we wore our long hair in braids. My mother was gentle about it, because she remembered her mother pulling her long hair into French braids so tight they gave her a headache!
Magdalena, you mention pulling hair so tight it hurts…from what I’ve seen that can cause hair loss.
Oh Those Pins
When we visit our Amish friends in Michigan my daughter, who is now almost 14, stays with one of the families. They have nine children and she folds quite nicely into the middle of the kids, right in between two girls. They throw a dress on her and do up her hair with six of those pins, then place a kapp over her head. Hair pinning takes a while, even for experienced hands.
We’re leaving for Michigan tomorrow and she can’t wait to see her friends again. She runs barefoot for the duration and we hardly see her while we’re there. Her hair is shorter this year so I’m curious to see whether they’ll have trouble pinning it up. I’ll see if I can take a series of photos showing the process of hair pinning while we’re there.
Hair pin turn(ing)
Keith, I, too, would love to see Amish hair-pinning techniques. My own hair is long, and I like to wear it up during the summer, but I’m sure the Amish have a better way to do it than I do (slip-shod and haphazard)!
Do your friends (the women folk, I mean) “do up” their clothing with straight pins, or can they use hooks & eyes (or even buttons)? I’ve always found it fascinating that some Amish women still use straight pins—I can’t imagine how one wouldn’t be getting “stuck” all the time! If anyone has “diagrams” (or descriptions of the Amish women’s “pinning process,” I’d sure be iterested in hearing about it—it must be an art form! Have a great trip! Your daughter is lucky to have the experience!
Erik, that was an interesting post! I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Good idea Keith, we would love to see the pictures….. my granddaughter is almost 10 and has real thick long hair to her knees (has only been trimed once )…wonder if these pins would hold her hair up?
Good job Erik, you amaze me 🙂
Thanks Mona! And I second what you and Alice Mary said…hopefully Keith will get some shots of what the hair pinning process looks like, since I’m not going to be able to demonstrate on myself 🙂
Those pins would definatly work for her hair. Most Amish never cut their hair and so they have thick and long hair. These pins are heavy duty and work perfectly. I’m not sure what the person meant by saying they made her head sore and hurt…I’ve worn these in my hair everyday for the past 4 years and they don’t hurt one bit to me.
The GVS ones are the same ones shown in the picture Eric had. They are just as sturdy as the other ones and are probably made in the same place. I got mine from an Amish store and also from GVS and they were the same “Traditionals” brand and equally sturdy.
Amish Hair Pins
Those hair pins actually look really nice. I’m letting my hair grow long, so something like this is really nice and extremely practical. Thanks for sharing this…Now I’m off to read the article on why Amish women cover their hair. Greetings from Oregon, Heather 🙂
Different styles of Plain hair pins
Glad everyone enjoyed this article. From what I understand from Dan, quality can vary, I believe there are some Chinese imports. I think Dan’s are on the higher end price-wise, but the quality is why. I don’t know the ultimate source of the pins I showed in the first two photos.
Also there are different styles, as you can see the “crimped” ones in the final photo (there’s probably a different name than that, but that’s what I’ll call them) and the straight ones I have.
Alice Mary asked about dresses and pins. I checked with my wife (because I just don’t have a clue), and she said she thinks they use buttons down the back for young girls and pins up the front for older girls and women. I’ll check on this as well.
A few years ago one of our friends made a dress for my daughter. I’ll post a picture at http://www.facebook.com/AmishWorkshops
Actually, memories from being plain are happy one for me.
We did pull our hair back tight and in the same place and so that caused sore heads. My mom got boil where she put her hair pins in. The doctor finally told her to go up with the bun or forget the bun…she went up.
My hair is only mid-back, but very thick, I use 8 hair pins when I put my hair in a “tight” bun. I don’t use a tight bun everyday because it pulls at my head too much so I generally save that for Sundays. I put a pin in at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock and then one pin in between each of those four and it stays all day. The pins come in different lengths too, 2″, 2.5″ and the 3″ that Erik mentioned. Prayercoverings.com has several “how to make a bun” tutorials for those who are wondering or needing help.
Kate — The pins can definately hurt if they get placed wrong! Luckily enough for me, I quickly find out…pretty much as soon as the hair pin goes in that it’s in wrong so I can fix it before I go out! Glad you haven’t had a problem with that yet 🙂
Keith/Alice Mary — Yes, the Amish girls would use buttons on the back of their dresses for closure and the women would use straight pins. If I remember correctly, the buttons vs. pins are used due to modesty issues…it wouldn’t be quite as modest for a woman to use buttons on her dresses as it is for a younger girl. The front closure allows for a woman to be more modest. Kate might also be able to answer that for us…
I also recall that for around the house and for choring, the women often use safety pins on their dresses rather than straight pins. They hold together better and are easier to put in place.
So I have a question. I have very thick hair. I love it long but once it gets to about mid back (actually about even with my elbows), I get bad headaches. What do Amish women do in cases like this? Do they get a reprieve from extra long hair or do can they cut it? I’m not saying cut it short….I’ve just always wondered because I know my headaches got pretty bad the one time I had my hair all the way down to my waist. Thanks! 🙂
Do Amish women cut hair for comfort?
I hate to wade into an area that I’m not really qualified to discuss (women’s hairstyles), but Karen could there be a difference between hair hanging loose, vs. bundled up? It seems like with loose hair you’d just have more weight swinging around and jerking your head.
I’ve never heard of similar situations among Amish, and so I’d say no on reprieves. Do some Amish women trim their hair? I won’t say that they don’t. But we wouldn’t see the evidence 🙂
I got some of these pins from the Plain-n-Simple website and use them every day! My hair is thick and slightly past hip-length, and I find the pins (especially the “crinkled” ones) a real help to keep my bun together and fastened comfortably on my head. I’m sure the Amish know how to do a better job with less pins, but for me it takes eight – four in the bun itself to keep it together, and four at the corners anchoring it to my head. I do tend to get headaches from my hair if I’m not careful with how I do it up, but if those anchor pins are at the right place, solid but not too tight, it is very comfortable.
I got mine from Modest Handmaidens (www.modesthandmaidens.com). They are $3/doz. I don’t know if these are made by the people that are highlighted here, but they are handmade Amish hairpins. Seriously, they are the best thing for keeping long hair in a bun and keeping it in place all day!
My mennonite friends put their hair in a “roll” instead of bun- put it in ponytail and twist it tight and roll it up. I have had them do my hair that way and I thought it was very comfortable! I have no idea how to do a bun, I use bobby pins and it always slips loose (so it is not tight against my head).
Mona, Are the GVS one’s crimped?
I am on the other end of the scale, I need to find pins and bobby pins that are thin and light enough to work in my very Scandinavian hair. I have tons of hairs but extremely thin ones that easily break so I need light pins that do not slip out from the weight of them but that still hold my hair. I found the perfect type for me in a bargain bin at a supermarket and I bought 3 huge packs of them but now they are gone so I am trying out new ones. The ones I liked were of a type that most people would disgard as cheap export from China and not worthy of purchasing but for some people like me these thin weak pins are actually the best type.
Mom Would Have Loved These
Mom was nearly 100 when she died, but she still had a mass of long, silver hair, which she rolled up in a “bun” every day. (Less hair than she had when she was younger, but still abundant.) I can tell just by looking at these hairpins that they are just what she was looking for.
A few years ago an Amish friend showed me “what the young ladies were now using,” pins such as shown here in this article. I’ve not been so fortunate to try them, but I think they began making their own when hairpins were hard to find in stores.
Someone gave me a package of 2 1/2 ” slightly crimped pins as were sold years ago. I use 5 in my hair and try to never lose one, or then I must draw from the few I have left. This old packaging says there were 79 here for 29 cents. Packaging says First Phillips MFG. Corp, Sunbury, PA 17801 Most that I’ve seen available are thin and an inch in length, that would hold NOTHING if you have long hair!
What a coincidence this topic is, as just last week when my girlfriend and I took a day trip to Lancaster and were at one of the Amish farmstands, I noticed the little Amish girl’s hair in a bun with a little net on it, and then sticking out all around it in a circle -like a neat sunburst pattern -were these long silver things, and when I asked the mother what they were, because it just looked so neat, she said hair pins – and now I see they are exactly like the ones pictured here in the bucket!
Also on the subject of Amish women’s hair, I’ve started to notice that alot of the middle to elderly age group have started to develop a wide balding spot where their hair is parted, and naturally assume that this comes from a lifetime of parting their hair and then tightly twisting or pulling it back in a bun?
Amish women bald spot
Debbie, in answer to your question on balding, yes, and you see it a lot in Lancaster County, not so much elsewhere (ie among Amish women in the big Midwest communities like Holmes County Ohio).
I have always supposed it is due to the particular Lancaster style and way of pulling the hair back, that they just do it tighter than elsewhere.
You’ll also find some women with thinning hair on the sides. The Lancaster style requires a little curly twist in the side hair (maybe one of our female readers knows the technical term for this). This also seems to lead to the same thinning out of the hair.
The hair loss is Traction Alopecia
I’m not surprised by one of you having noticed hair loss at the hairline and part of the crown on certain Amish women’s heads. You’re exactly right: the hair loss, called Traction Alopecia by dermatologists, will happen to anyone who wears their hair in tight buns, or any other hairstyles so tight, that, each time, the hair follicles are pulled so tightly that, after a certain number of years, all of the too-tightly-pulled follicles die, the hair in the areas involved completely falls out, and is never again able to grow back. Traction Alopecia happens to many different people, especially girls and women, all over the world, from many different ethnicities and hair types. It is very often noticed on professional ballet dancers, and I have seen serious/full-time teenage ballet students present with this disorder.
Adam Smith on the manufacture of pins
The economist in me immediately connected this blog post to what Adam Smith wrote on the manufacture of pins in “Wealth of Nations” in 1776, which I’ve quoted below. I wonder how specialized each of Daniel Fisher’s employees are?
“…the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving, the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands…”
Adam Smith and Amish hair pins
Great Adam Smith quote Ed 🙂 In Dan’s case, since it’s a part-time deal for him (he has another full-time job), it’s just him, his wife, and the older kid(s).
I think the specialization Smith describes has in this case been transferred into the machines, each of which Dan created himself.
How do I know what size I should use? I have used the 2 1/2 in. (I think) and they seemed to work fine. My hair is about mid back length (but I am growing it out. Also does anyone have anywhere i can get instructions on how to do a bun or a hair roll like some mennonites use?
How Amish Women Pin Their Hair
We finally posted the photo essay on how Amish women pin their hair. Go here: