Monday, April 9, 2012

Hat Camp 2012

It has been an incredibly busy Spring!  I've been making hats as fast as I can for all the hat-wearing events our area supports like North Carolina's Azalea Festival and Garden Party, plus Kentucky Derby, other horsey events, and weddings.  I'll post some pictures of those in a later blog entry, but I want to tell you about an event I attended a few weeks ago called HAT CAMP!

I couldn't decide if I wanted to treat myself to seeing what I know must be a fabulous display of hats, curated by none other that Mr. Stephen Jones, in New York City (it is ending April 15th)...or by attending the annual Hat Camp, held this year in Los Angeles. 

I chose Hat Camp for a variety of reasons.  Mind you, I had no business leaving a crazy schedule of hatmaking in my own atelier, but I just felt the need to meet milliners from around the US/Canada, and this was the best place to do that.  Seemed I knew more international milliners than I did in my own country.  That was about to change!

Since I live on the Atlantic coast and had to travel completely across the US to the Pacific coast, it started as an early day and ended very late, but oh, the things I discovered.

Crossing the Rocky Mountains, above, and the Grand Canyon, below.

Once I arrived, checked into the hotel, and found my bearings, I headed to California Millinery to check them out.  I've never bought much from them and didn't know what to expect in the way of supplies.  I knew them mostly as a supplier of buckram frames. 

What I found was practically a museum of vintage materials.  Veiling, flowers, petersham, feathers, straw braids and other niceties. 

The braid above is about 3" wide!

Do you see those stacks of boxes?  Full of things I'd just love to get down in the floor with and check out.  Unfortunately, that was not possible.  But I did get some great vintage veiling, braid (which I'm partial to as a millinery medium), and a few other items.

Here's Diego, the guy you'll talk to on the phone or in person if you contact California Millinery.

OK, I get back to the hotel to hook up with my roommate for the weekend, Margo Nickel of Hatshadows.  I had wanted to meet her for a long time.  Margo lives in Tuscon, AZ, and is a supplier of handmade buckram frames.  Check her out! 

We hooked up with several other milliners in the lobby and went for drinks and to search out other Hat Camp attendees! 

That's Margo on the left, Holly Coffman from Santa Monica, and Ingrid Ostheller from Spokane, Washington.  I was already meeting so many incredible milliners and we hadn't even started the sessions yet.

Next morning we were all to meet at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising for a behind the scenes archival viewing of some of their most recent millinery acquisitions.  Dave Temple, who hosted Hat Camp along with Louise Green, pulled some nice strings to get us into the netherworld of their archives.  Below you see us waiting to go inside.  That's Louise on the far right.  She's American millinery royalty, although she's British by birth.  I've always loved her hats!  (More from her further done this blog post.)

Oh, and we got to view the 20th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibit at FIDM. The exhibition includes selected costumes from all five 2011 Academy Award® Nominees for Costume Design: W/E, Hugo, Jane Eyre, The Artist, and Anonymous. Others on exhibit as well.

Dave giving us the lowdown on entry into FIDM and the rest of the morning.  Dave owns Clever Vintage Clothing in LA and later in the weekend he showed us just a few of his vintage millinery and clothing pieces.  All I can say is WOW!  If you are ever in LA, you must look him up if you love vintage!!

Hat Camp started about 6 or 7 years ago when Wayne Wichern, who now lives and teaches millinery in Redwood City, CA, moved from the Pacific northwest to the San Francisco area.  They all missed each other and the Seattle/Portland milliners decided to travel and 'camp' in Wayne's house for the weekend.  Hat Camp was born!  While it has always been a mostly West Coast millinery get-together, and specifically northern CA, Oregon, and Washington, it has now become an annual North American meeting of milliners, thanks mostly to word-of-mouth and social media.  You will want to join in. 

This year there were milliners from New York City, Nashville TN, Boise ID, Austin TX, Vancouver BC, Indianapolis IN, Chicago, and many more places.

Above you see Wayne (left) and Dave (right) at the Saturday session.  All milliners (45!) were given a chance to show some of their work through slides and give self introductions.  It was very eye-opening to see so many styles and to hear about how we each work, where we work, what training we had done, etc.  We all do the same work but amazingly differently!  Very interesting!

Chicago milliner Eia Radosavljevic and I gave a presentation to the group on our experiences at the International Millinery Forum this past January.  Lots of interest about the USA doing something like this.  Anyone interested?

Dave gave us some great information about a woodworker he knows who agreed to replicate hatblocks for him.  Here's an example.  Below you will see more.  As many of you might know, hatblocks are little mysteries unto themselves.  Not always as simple as they might look, especially when someone outside the millinery world is trying to make a copy. 

End of the first day and off to The Pattern Bar for a few drinks and some down time!

Here are a few more pictures from throughout the weekend.

Sunday was a VERY full day but the highlight of the weekend was a trip to the offices and workspaces of Louise Green Millinery in the evening.  Louise and her husband Lawrence welcomed us to take in their amazing workspaces, showrooms, supply areas, and trim tables...and served us dinner and drinks too!  Thank you Louise and Lawrence!

Louise led us through the creative  and design aspects of the business, and what a special treat that was.  She is a very gracious lady and we were all thrilled she was so open to having all of us traipsing through her facility! 

Lawrence, who knows the technical and financial end of the business, led us through some costing information which was as eye-opening as the creative side.  He also showed us the blocking stations, vintage millinery sewing machines and served the wine!

Monday morning we had a quick wrap-up session before we headed to the Los Angeles International Textile Show.  We were likes kids in a candy store!  So many incredible trim companies--ribbon, rhinestones, braids, appliques, flowers and even more.  I found a couple of vendors I've needed for a long time to help with bridal as well as hat trims.  A couple of the companies are even making custom pieces for that's special.

Last of the group to leave the textile show...and Hat Camp as well.

I am so pleased I decided to attend.  I met so many people I've wanted to meet for a long time.  I look forward to the NEXT Hat Camp.  If you are a Canadian or American milliner, you need to plan for next year's meeting.  You won't be disappointed.  Lots to learn.

Next post...I meet LA milliner S. Montez and get to hang out at The Millinery Guild in Hollywood!  Stay turned.  You are gonna love her if you don't already know her!


  1. what a great post !! i was especially impressed by your aerial shots....

  2. Thanks, Gigi! Can't wait til next year!!

  3. Great post,Jan. Thanks for the mention.
    Any chance you can photoshop my head?
    Sending all good wishes your way.

  4. Oh, Margo! We always are our worst critics. I was just sorry the 'color' of your hair didn't show. Love it and wish I had the nerve! Take care and stay in touch!!!

  5. Hi Jan , thanks for the post ! Very interesting , are you going next year ? I want to go too ! Hugs , Jay

  6. Come on over, Jay! We'd LOVE for you to join us. Let's make it international!! And yes, I do plan to go next year.