VERNON - As Gabriel Newman started going through collections at the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, he stumbled upon a number of old-fashioned straight razors.
“I thought ‘how do you actually do that?’ I would not feel brave enough to put a blade to me neck,” Newman says. “Shaving is something men have been doing pretty much forever — since they dragged a sharp rock across their face. But we are never taught to do it. If we are, it’s two sentences from your father: try not to cut yourself.”
He says the art of using a straight razor, something that was commonplace just 70 years ago, is, for the most part, a piece of history tucked away in the archives.
“It’s one of those traditional skills we are losing,” Newman says.
But this skill, at least, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance thanks to places like the Gentlemen’s Shop and Shave Parlour in Vernon.
“Basically right across the road (from the museum) we have the Gentlemen’s Shop. They have all the paraphernalia, they’ve got the straight blades, they know how to do it,” Newman says.
That’s how an upcoming event called ‘A Close Shave’ was born. The presentation is the first in a series of field schools Newman is organizing as the museum’s educational coordinator. The next instalment will introduce participants to a modern day inventor, and after that you can learn the proper technique for using a scythe from a group of North Okanagan farmers.
“I love combining historical stories and our collections with real, hands-on practical knowledge,” Newman says. “We all learn in different ways and appreciate history in different ways. The field school is set up to celebrate people in the community keeping those traditions alive.”
At ‘A Close Shave’ participants will learn how to shave with a straight razor from the experts at the Gentlemen’s Shop.
“Why try to learn this stuff off the Internet?” Newman says. “I would never shave my face with a razor blade based on something I saw online.”
The event takes place Nov. 20 at the Gentlemen’s Shop on 31 Avenue at 10 a.m. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved and purchased ahead of time at the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives. There are only 20 tickets available.
In honour of Movember, proceeds will go to charities that support men’s health.
A special exhibit will also be on display at the museum in conjunction with the event.
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