Friday, April 30, 2010

How to Make Your Own Millinery Flower Stamens

Every once in a while I'm disappointed about my ability to secure millinery-related items.  Usually I can't find a material I once used because it's not being made anymore; if I find it, it's over priced just because it's a "millinery" item (millinery is really hot now); or it's "vintage", etc.  This time I was disappointed because I purchased several separate packages of stamens from a seller on my favorite auction site; you know the one.  I emailed the seller to ask for a discount on postage, since the stamens could all be mailed in the same envelope.  I should have known better when the seller didn't email me back.  Well! I received the stamens in one package of nasty brown paper bag torn and taped together.  I would have appreciated the stamens costing more and the postage being what it should have been.  This act led me to experiment with making my own stamens.

 After experimenting with a number of things, I found that the things shown in the image to your left gave me the best results.  These included glazed hand quilting thread, acrylic paint, and fabric stiffener.  First, I rolled my flower petals and set them aside. I cut the thread into strands approximately 24 inches long, dipped them into the fabric stiffener, and then I hung them across a clothing rack to dry (do not let strands touch). The drying only takes a few minutes.  After drying, I rapped the thread around a 2 1/2- inch piece of cardboard that I used as a cutting gauge.  Next, I cut each end of the thread.  Finally, I dipped each end into the acrylic paint.

After I dipped the stamen tips, I set them aside to dry.  I used a gridded aluminum pan, but just about anything that would  allow the stamen tips to hang over without touching each other would do.

Finally, the stamens are finished.  One group of stamens on the tray below is commercially prepared; can you tell which one?  They are the stamens on the extreme left.  To the right of these are stamens that I double dipped, first in yellow paint and then in purple paint to obtain the same effect as the first group of stamens (click on the image to enlarge it.).  I used the non-gloss paint for the second dip because it is not as thick as the glossy paint.

Tips:  For a larger stamen tip, dip stamen ends several times.  The glossy paint yields a larger stamen tip because it is thicker.  Also, setting the paint aside for approximately 15 minutes before dipping will also yield a larger tip because the paint thickens the longer it is exposed to the air.

I know this is not for everyone, but for those of us that just like to make things, this will work.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Allison Parson's Bes-Ben Collection

On Saturday, Allison Parson of Allison Parson Design was gracious enough to share her Bes-Ben millinery collection.  Allison gave a talk on milliner Benjamin B. Green-Field and his label, Bes-Ben, including how she acquired this amazing collection.  You would have thought that these little gems were walking the red carpet at the Oscar Awards.  Observers surrounded Allison's collection capturing images with their cell phones, in most cases, and cameras. We were mesmerized paparazzi.

I always get excited when I have the opportunity to view vintage millinery.  I'm amazed with the workmanship found in vintage couture millinery.  These vintage hats really represent the art of millinery; they represent a time in history before couture millinery and glue gun was not mentioned in the same sentence, and before imagination and copycat didn't mean the same thing.

I learn so much when I turn over a vintage hat.  I learn millinery techniques such as stitching, various ways of securing hats, trimming, finishing techniques, and how various foundation materials were utilized.  Finally, I receive fresh ideas, not to copy but to build upon.  Look beyond the style of these hats; look at the workmanship and learn from the past.  Enjoy!

To view more Bes-Ben images, follow my link under Millinery-Related & Other Links of Interest in the right sidebar.  For more information regarding the Bes-Ben label and the milliner visit the Benjamin B. Green-Field Foundation site.  Also, sit in on a taped interview with Raymond Hudd; see sidebar.  Hudd was influenced, in part, by Bes-Ben.  Please, you have to see Hudd's work; this is the dessert!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

L. A. County Fair Millinery Competition

It's that time of the year again--time for all of you fabulous milliners to inter your best-made hats into the Los Angeles Fair's millinery competition!  Visit Tapestry for its general entry details.  Go to the bottom of the Tapestry page and click on Project Hatway Contest to download a file containing the flyer, entry forms, including any additional details for the millinery contest. If you have questions regarding the contest, please email Amy Pond-Cirelli or call her at (909) 865-4043.  It's extremely important that the deadline dates be adhered to.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Images From My Last Draping Class

I can't tell you how much I enjoy teaching millinery, and when the students are as enthusiastic as those that were in my last draping class, it's an extra added bonus.

Many times a full-size hat covers too much hair.  No wonder that this is why the fascinator/cocktail hat is so popular today.  So I made this small suede and vinyl hat for class show-and-tell, thus making draping relevant to current fashions.

A student's work should always outshine her/his instructor's, and that was certainly the case in this class.  To the  right is Colleen's beautiful draped pillbox.  This image does not adequately show the intricate details in this lovely hat.

Gladys is quite an accomplished clothing designer, and it shows in her lovely little cocktail hat. 

Thanks ladies.