What is it? (Hint: the things we do in the name of fashion)

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We posted this photo of an artifact from our collection on twitter yesterday and asked if anyone could identify the object.

Looks somewhat terrifying, doesn’t it?

@chelseybunsh was quick to respond, saying that it looked like an antique hair curler, and – ding, ding, ding – we had a winner!

This is a perm machine from the 1940s and it was how women would get the curly hair that was in fashion at the time. The hairdresser would wrap your hair around the metal curlers at the end of the cords and clip the curlers up to the head while they heated up. Once the curlers were hot, the hairdresser would unwrap your hair and you were left with beautiful curls – hopefully.

Hairdressers had to be careful because if they left the curlers on too long, the hair could burn. They also had to make sure the curlers were pinned up securely on the head, because if a curler slipped, it could burn a person’s skin.

The old-fashioned perm machine makes an appearance in the 1973 horror movie Theatre of Blood. In it, a vengeful actor uses the perm to electrocute one of his critics.

We hope this perm machine doesn’t perm-eate your dreams tonight (and turn them into nightmares)!

Posted by Sarah Ball on October 23, 2014

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