For some of us here in the States new, exciting, and exotic millinery materials are hard to come by. We usually lag behind--sometimes years--when it comes to the acquisition and training in the use of these materials. So, when I saw Jasmin Zorlu's video on Paris Cloth and its manipulation, I was extremely excited.
Thanks for sharing!
If you are looking for a place to purchase Paris Cloth, visit the Torb and Reiner site mentioned in the video.
First, congratulations to all of the Los Angeles/Pomona County Fair millinery competition winners. The Best of Show Award went to Dave Temple of Fullerton. I think that the red felt hat in the group image above was awarded the Craftsmanship Award. I couldn't read the name on this image. So, if anyone goes to the fair after reading this post, please leave the name in the Comments box below.
Front display. Click on any image to view a larger image. Green - Color or Innovation Blue - First Place Red - Second Place White-Third Place Pink - Merit
I didn't do well this year; I'll blame it on the one and a half days I spent making my hats. I threw this one together in less than 20 minutes. I never thought it would win anything. No headband; but it's small, and that's the trend these days.
This one didn't place (category, purchased embellished hat).
This one you've seen before; I received the Judge's Award for Merit for this one. The only thing new here is the detachable veil that I added chenille to. The veil should have gown under the hat and the feather to the front side (the grosgrain ends in the back).
Finally, I also received the Judge's Award for Merit for this one. I think these awards are like "thank you for entering but do better next time."
This is my daughter's little hat; you would have to see it on the head to really appreciate it. She burned the feathers herself and they swirl across the face. She received the Judge's Award for Merit.
Before typing this post I vowed to keep my opinions to myself, but I just had to mention two hats that did not even receive a Judge's Award for Merit but were absolutely wonderful (to me). Sandra Square of San Bernardino, I thought your hat was one of the best made hats of all the entries. The workmanship was impeccable. I really have to stop looking at things like workmanship and focus more on trends.
Louise McGee of Inglewood, nice, very nice. I'm a sucker for a beautiful well made transparent hat. I think these entrants had hats in various categories also.
I'm sure there were others, but my family wanted to go play games. I didn't have as much time as I wanted with the hats. Next year I think I'll go to the fair at least once alone.
I have an extremely large head--my head size plus big hair equals extremely large head. All I'll say is that my largest utility hat block is a size 24. I pad this 24 with felt to increase its size, or I'll stretch the finished hat with a hat stretcher. I wanted a block specifically dedicated to my head size; so, I decided to carve one. I prefer to save my money for more exciting purchases like the block below, my latest acquisition. Now that's a hat block! Sorry, I'll get back to the purpose of this post--teaching you how I carve a utility hat block.
Carving a hat block is pretty simple. Many times you will be concerned with creating curves. In order to create a curve, you would cut your foam or wood edges diagonally; at least that's how I start. When one edge is cut, you are left with two edges, these two edges are also diagonally cut, forming more edges and those edges are cut, and so on and on. This is demonstrated in the image above.
I purchased a large Styrofoam cube and scored an "X" on the top and bottom of it (a line from corner to corner), dividing the foam into equal sections. I traced my size 24 head size plate onto paper and added 1/8" inch to the traced pattern. Adding 1/8" to your pattern equals 1/2" to your head size; 1/4" equals one inch, and so on. Unfortunately, this 17" x 17" cube was not large enough for my head size. I'll get back to this fact later. The pattern is moved to the bottom of the cube without turning the pattern over. So, under the bottom of the cube, after moving the pattern down, you will not see the pencil markings on the pattern, but you will be able to see them slightly through the paper because you did not flip the paper over. These two tracings should be in the same position on top of the cube, as well as on the bottom side.
Using two straight-edged knives--a large one for mass carving and a small one for detail carving--I removed the excess foam. My next step was to sand the foam with medium sandpaper. Always wipe dust from block after sanding. I applied a lite coat of wood filler and let it dry. After the filler dried, I sanded the block again. I applied another coat of sealer, but this time the coat was much thicker. Remember I said that the foam was not wide enough to accommodate my head size and that 1/8" would increase the block size by 1/2 inch. Well, the second coat of sealer was a thicker one that also added girth to the block. This was followed with another sanding.
After letting the filler dry, I added some acrylic paint to some white glue for color. I added the glue for extra protection and to give the block a softer, springier feel--nice to pin into . This was followed by two coats of polyurethane, letting each coat dry before adding another. Overkill; yes. I could have stopped after I carved the block, providing it was the correct head size, but the block would not last as long without some type of protection. I could have painted on the white glue and nothing else. I could have used paper mache. Experiment. I also like adding the polyurethane because I don't have to worry about heat. These blocks, when protected with some type of covering, are just as durable as a balsa wood hat block and the cost is much less than a balsa block.
Try carving other shapes and other materials. To your right is a block I carved in wood with three interchangeable tip. I learned a big lesson when I carved this block. I learned not to carve the block on the trace line, but to carve outside of the line. Sawing or carving on the line reduces the head size, and sanding further reduces it.
Two notes concerning this finished block:
1. If you click on the image to your left to enlarge the image, you will notice that the block is in profile. There is actually a bump on the back of the block, as on the back of the head.
2. In order to get a finer grain on your block, use better sandpaper than I did. I used old sandpaper because I didn't want to go out to purchase more.
Don't forget to mark the front and back of your block; there is a difference unless you use a round headsize collar rather than an oval as I did.
Always use a dust respirator when sanding wood and foam.
Always measure your block from top to bottom when carving and sanding to maintain consistent measurements.
Don't forget to coat the bottom of the block with a sealer also.
A more economical material to use for block carving is the sheet foam house insulation. However, I personally prefer the regular craft Styrofoam, not the soft flower foam.
Remember that an extra one fourth of an inch will add one half of an inch to the head size of a block.
Also, try carving fancier shapes; doing so could mean that your hats would not look like all the others'. It's really easy. Enjoy!!