Today I was watching a documentary about hatters of Britain (name unknown) and became particularly inspired by the idea of designing my own. Although this has no relation to any of my chosen concepts or prior research, I thought it could be interesting to experiment with materials and produce an outcome that’s unique to anything I’ve done before.
The technique I used in the workshop was papier-mache – something that I, alongside many I’m sure, was introduced to in kindergarten. The process involves using a shape to mould pieces of paper with a liquid adhesive substance and then usually reinforcing with textiles. I began with a balloon and stacked cotton wool balls and aiming for a bowler-style outcome, I lined them around the circumference. This became more difficult when the cotton absorbed the glue causing them to become heavier and slide down the rubber. To overcome this is used a hairdryer to stick pieces on individually which was turned out to be an effective solution.
I then covered the cotton with paper/PVA layers and again used the hairdryer to solidify. Rather than securing with textiles, I poured PVA over the whole ‘hat’ and left to dry (this took place over a couple of days). To finish, the balloon was popped and the shape left behind was of that I had intended. I was going to cover the structure with a thin fur fabric for a more ‘Y2K’ retro vibe however didn’t have any available at the time. Looking back I feel this outcome could have been more useful if I had finished it to the full extent. If I covered it in fur I could’ve included the hat in my styling for the concept on ‘Animal Products’ or alternatively used food wrappers or plastic bags for ‘Throwaway Fashion’. I think it’s a shame to waste the outcome so if I find time, may revisit soon.
Looking deeper into the process I found the technical name for a hat maker to be ‘Milliner’. One of the most famous milliners throughout fashion history was John Boyd who sadly passed away in February at the age of 93.
His career spanned over a number of 70+ successful years in contemporary creation which enabled him to gain the utmost respect for his craftsmanship, from high profile clients including Princess Diana and Margret Thatcher. His hats were a celebration of line, shape and form and being conspicuous in design, were transformative and impressionable to people of high social status. For me this is important because as said in my proposal I want to be proactive in my approach to making a difference. If what I’m creating doesn’t have a conceptual motive then it probably isn’t relevant to my project which is often my weakness, getting caught up in tangents of irrelevant nature. I’m inspired by the avant-garde styles of Boyd’s work and would like to pay a visit to the store in Knightsbridge.