Sunday 30 June 2013

My New Reproduction 1940s Millinery Heads

Nothing makes a hat stand out like the right display.

I picked these beauties up yesterday. They were made by the very talented Ross of WCBY sculpting (you can find WCBY on facebook too).

They are copies from an original 1940s display head, and I am so in love with them. I got two, the same except for their hair colour.

I couldn't resist a little photoshoot, especially because there was some decent light today, approaching sunshine even, and I also got a new camera this week.

I just can't express how much I am adoring the way my hats look on these heads. Especially the ones with a vintage feel themselves.

Now I just need to learn how to make the most of this new camera, finish making some new hats, and find some more places in my house to use for photos! Surfaces in this house are covered with stuff or cats. Or both.

Friday 28 June 2013

Daily Hat: A Cold Virus Half-Hour Special

Last week I told you about my Daily Hat commitment and made myself accountable. This week, I got sick. In fact, I'm still feeling pretty bad.

I didn't want to let my promise fall away so quickly, however good an excuse I had. Plus, the spirit of the promise is to forget perfection and get creating.

So, mostly recovered, I decided that although a few hours on a hat might be beyond me still, I could make a little something in half an hour then go to bed!

I feel a little glow. Not that I really like this. I don't. But it achieved what it was supposed to. Despite excuses and the troubles of life, I created something. I've shared it even though it is far from perfect. There are elements of it that I like. I love the colours. I love the way the buttons look on those little flowers. There are ideas here I could experiment with more in the future. And I feel enjoyment from the creative process, however brief.

That's what it was always supposed to be about. It makes me smile.

Sunday 23 June 2013

An Ancient Totem

I got my name, and consequently my business name, from my mother. I got my interest in buying things at auctions from my father.

These elements collided when I was browsing an auction catalogue and saw a "Goddess Tanit Figure".

I actually didn't buy it, but luckily no one else did either, so I kept an eye out for it in future auctions. There is was. So here it is!

I am going to take it to mum when I visit her in Wales in two weeks!

How cool is it? My goddess namesake, in blobby ancient fairly shapless form.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Daily Hat 3: Watching "Bachelor Mother"

"Oh don't leave me! I won't know how to talk to these people."
"Just say no the the men. The girls probably won't talk to you anyway."

"She's not bad for a filler. Personally I'd just as soon go stag."
"You could, too, with those shoulders."

"Do you know how you get a baby to sleep on its stomach? You turn it on its stomach and then you go to bed and the baby starts to cry then you get up and turn the baby on its stomach and go back to bed and the baby starts to cry and you get up and turn the baby on its stomach and pretty soon it's 9 o'clock and you're winding ducks."

"Doesn't he talk dear? Didn't he talk last night?"
"Certainly he talks. And very well too. Why he can recite the first line from Gunga Din."

"I don't care who the father is! I'm the grandfather."

Sunday 16 June 2013

Like reading a hug: Creative Thursday and my Daily Hat commitment

Recently, I had a massage, and afterwards she asked me if I'd been drinking enough water. She said that my skin was absorbing the oils really quickly, a sign that I was under-hydrated. I went to lunch right after that massage and drank an entire bottle of water (like the glass ones they bring for the table) myself.

Something akin to this happens when you read the right book at the right time (or watch the right movie, hear the right song, have the right conversation...). Your soul just sucks it up through your skin. You absorb the words rapidly and eagerly to quench a thirst you didn't even know you had.

This was my experience of "Creative Thursday" by Marisa Anne. It's about creativity. Finding the time, inspriation and motivation to be creative and dealing with the emotions involved. There are lots of lovely, reassuring, encouraging thoughts in it, alongside her charming paintings (see her blog for examples). There's something about it that is like a balm to my wounded spirit. It's like reading a hug. If like me you love it when a successful artist/craftsperson opens up about feelings and fears, you should read this book. It makes me know. I feel this energy build up inside, like a wild force trying to escape. It's sad and scary but fills me with hope.

There are also some nice practical suggestions for dealing with those feelings. I've already started following one of these ideas. It's based on the aim of escaping perfectionism by creating an excuse for imperfection. Not in a "making excuses" way, but like giving yourself a note to yourself to say you are excused from being perfect today.

So you have a period of time. And in that period of time, you will create and finish an item. For Marisa it was a painting. There's lots of things mine could be but I'm going to make it mostly hats, so there is a nice themed feel to it. But I may wander off my path. That's ok too.

My period of time is one evening a week after school. It's hard to feel motivated, but I know that if I focus I can complete a hat in that time.

The first "Daily Hat" was this one two weeks ago, which I told the story of as I went.

Last week it was this one.

I was not feeling the inspiration. I had ideas, but not the blocks for them. I had sketches, but the fabrics needed washing. I had materials, but not the ideas for them. I had grand plans, but not the time. I had brand new felt hoods, but not the plans.

So I rummaged through the leftover felt scraps from previous hats. The perfect material for experimentation without direction. You can't ruin scraps. They are a worry-free project starter.

Off I went, and this is the result. It might need a little something on that fold. Perhaps a button?

Here's my commitment. I'll be setting aside this time each week and creating a complete work (usually a hat) in that time, and sharing it here. Stay tuned!

Sunday 9 June 2013

A new business card holder

My business cards at the Grand Opening sat in a little jewellery box I've had since I was a young girl. It looks nice, but I'm keen to have it back and put my cards in something more "me". Actually I plan to make a tiny hat for them to sit in.

Until then, I decided to try painting one of the (many) little paper mache boxes I have sitting around, waiting to one day become the Christmas gifts they were intended to be.

Naturally, I wanted to paint something hat-themed. I went with a 1920s look for this lady, with a green cloche, since everyone seemed to like my green cloche the best.

Plus my business cards arrived. They are Round 2. Round 1 I printed myself and cut out the night before the opening. This round are the free kind from Vistaprint. Round 3 can be fancier (i.e. have my own images and be recycled card), I just wanted something basic to start me out.

I love painting, even though I am not very practised at it. I had to re-do so many bits of this! It's a bit too tiny a scale to suit my uncoordinated and shaky hands. But I loved doing it.

And I made lots of mess. A sure sign of a fun day.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

How to make a hat if you're a little neurotic

If you are here for a tutorial, as you can read from the full title, this isn't one! Sorry.

Here is a tutorial for making a 1960s-style whimsy hat.

Here are some posts that, while not complete with instructions, you might find useful if you are interested in learning to make hats: 
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On with the original post, which is just a story of my creative process, with neurotic commentary.

5:33 pm. Home from work. Cats fed. Time to put the kettle on.

5:38 pm. Phase one blocked. This is the last of the felts I had lying around from years ago, and it turns out to be a fur. I could tell right away as it worked into shape so smoothly. Damn I wish fur didn't grow on animals. Can't you just shear them or something? Little tiny bunny haircuts? *sigh* Time to feed the cats some more and let the felt dry a bit.

6:09 pm. Doubt design idea. Look at other hats on Pinterest and change plans multiple times. Have conviction. Doubt. Repeat. Finally grab the scissors, remember that it doesn't have to be perfect, and there's plenty more felt out there. Cut into it!

6:16 pm. Looks like bunny ears. Panic and leave the room.

6:19 pm. Check original sketch. Should have done that first. But there is hope.

6:29 pm. Less like bunny ears. Not zero, but less. Add some more elements. Starting to look like a hat for grown ups. Basic design finished. Time to start neatening up.

6:37 pm. Chair back falls off. I was wondering where that knob came from.

7:07 pm. Mushroom burgers and NCIS

8:02pm. Back to work. Sewing tacking stitches where required to keep the shape. More edge neatening.

8:17 pm. Rummage through beads and other bits n' pieces for the final touch. Wish for nice new pretty stuff instead of random bits of old jewellery and things cut off other things. Find something good. Stop wishing for new things.

8:28 pm. Still needs a comb or elastic but otherwise done. Enough for tonight.

8:42 pm. Post on blog. Wish for a pretty clear bright workspace without old teddy bear curtains.

8:44 pm and onwards. Keep wondering if it looks like bunny ears. I may have bunnies on the brain.

Sunday 2 June 2013

The Grand Opening of Crago Mill

There has been a lot of luck coming my way lately. Meetings, opportunities and plans have all fallen neatly into place.

Leading up to yesterday, the grand opening of the renovated Crago mill in Bathurst, and a display of my hats in the jewellery shop, Gems Bathurst.

The gorgeous woman who owns the shop, Gail, has been amazing helping me prepare, giving me advice, encouraging me, and generally acting as mentor.

My grandmother Wendy offered her spare dressing table as a display space. Isn't it beautiful? And lots of her friends helped in transporting it, arranging it in the shop space and polishing it until it gleamed.

I was up late and sleeping badly the night before, and my evenings last week involved a hurried preparation of business cards, photo albums, sign and new hats, all having to fit around parent-teacher night and a teacher network meeting.

It was unquestionably worth it. I met lovely friendly people and had some great chats (tough work for me, talking to people, but I pushed myself (and Bennie pushed me too)).

Lots of people took business cards, people looked at photos, and tried on hats, and asked questions.

I ticked off and celebrated every happy moment. The first business card taken, the first hat tried on, etc.

I made Wendy and myself hats and we modelled them proudly.

This was the other hat I made during the week, a black felt cloche with bling and ostrich feather.

Next to my little sign and a hand mirror Wendy thoughtfully brought along for people to check themselves out in.

And here are some close-ups of Wendy's hat. Inspired by a vintage hat (I pinned it here if you're interested) and another great opportunity to use a cute vintage button.

The green cloche was the most admired hat of the day, but this one was probably second.

If you get a chance to be in Bathurst, I recommend checking out the mill, and not just so you can see my hats in person. It's a fabulous heritage building, the cafe food is great, you can have some local wine (which I'm sure is also great, but I don't drink wine, so I dunno!), drool over antique furniture, and get a range of handmade local products. Gail's jewellery is stunning, and she has a lot of great items from other locals too, including some adorable cushions with buttons. Plus the mill is just full of the nicest people you will ever meet!

Thanks to everyone who made this happen.
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