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Adventures of a Mad Hatter in Texas

January 29, 2011

Recently I’ve been asked to share more information about my own millinery adventures on my blog, so I thought I would let you have a few glimpses of my workday today.

I started the morning in my studio, listening to NPR and their winter 2011 pledge drive, continuing the work I began yesterday on several cocktail hats and a bridal headpiece.

my studio, a.k.a. the eye of the hurricane

You can see that the feathers are flying, the Spring 2011 color palette is nearby for quick reference and inspiration, and I’ve got more than three unfinished projects on this table alone.  Oy vey!

Concentric Cocktail Hat in progress

My Concentric Cocktail Hat in teal and brown guinea feathers was inspired by the stripes that are so hot for S/S 2011.  Each feather is hand-glued onto fabric over a buckram base.  As you can imagine, it took hours to sort the feathers and glue them all on to the hand-made base; now I have to finish the accent on top, line the inside, and add grosgrain and elastic.  It’s a labor of love.  🙂

Catwoman Cocktail Hat (left); Bead-Encrusted Bridal Hat with tulle pouf

The Catwoman Cocktail Hat is a sassy, sexy way to dress up your evening attire.  Don’t go overboard with other leopard prints if you want a hat like this to dazzle.  A simple leopard print belt, shoes, or handbag is a great way to keep your look clean and chic!

The Bead-Encrusted Bridal Hat uses repurposed beadwork from a formal dress, also with a fabric-covered buckram base.  You can see in the first photo (above) the tulle pouf with pearl beadwork with which I plan to finish this hat.  I just have to decide which orientation I want the pouf to face….

Dyeing for a Solution

The latter part of my day consisted of mixing dyes for feathers, none of which turned out to be bright enough to go on top of the Concentric Cocktail Hat.  I’m sure there’s a trick to getting the colors of dyed feathers to be bright and bold, since factory-dyed feathers manage to be bright and bold, and I plan to uncover the trick!

In the process of experimenting, however, I did come up with a short-term solution to a need that I, and several milliner friends, have expressed before:  a hands-free way to dry various materials during the millinery process, including dyed feathers and wet hat bodies.

I used a metal lantern hanger that’s been sitting around for years (ever since the lantern broke) and twisted the top part (with the hook) to the side and down so it could hold the hair dryer.  I used an old plate weight from my sporadic weight-lifting days to weigh down the base.  (I really should be lifting weights again, now that I think of it.)  Then I attached a rubber band on the neck of the holder, inserted the hair dryer, and secured the rubber band in the small hook on the other side of the holder.  It won’t win any beauty pageants, but it worked beautifully!

While I will eventually need something taller so a blocked hat can fit easily underneath the dryer – and a foot-pedal with an on-off switch would be ideal – this contraption of mine should fill in as a decent alternative to holding the hair dryer between my knees!


drying a dyed feather with my new contraption





As always, please feel free to comment on this post below.  If you like what you see here, subscribe to this blog for more great millinery stuff!

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 29, 2011 1:44 pm

    Ha! I am glad I am not the only one rigging crazy tools to help me work. Looks great, I especially love the bridal one.

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