Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones...Boston

On Saturday, September 8, 2012, I was lucky enough to attend the opening day festivities of Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones!  This is the final stop on a world-wide trip this exhibit has taken over the last few years--starting at the Victoria & Albert in London, then Brisbane, Australia, then New York City, and finally to Boston, Massachusetts (actually Salem) and the Peabody Essex Museum. The PEM is the oldest continuously operating museum in the USA.

To say I was excited about seeing this exhibit would be an understatement!  My friend and fellow milliner Janet, from Philadelphia, met me there.  We anticipated a whole day of millinery bliss.  We were not disappointed.

 I left the airport and had the taxi drop me at the waterfront in Boston.  I'd heard taking the ferry up to Salem was a great way to see some of the skyline, harbor, and beautiful sailboats.

A beautiful day for a ferry ride up to Salem (yes, Salem as in witch trials)!  Fall air, sunshine, water, history, boats!

Janet and I arrived at the PEM early on Saturday, just after opening.  Guess what!  As we were just about to enter the museum Janet said, 'There he is!'  We turned and Mr. Jones himself was just getting out of his taxi.  I'm basically a pretty shy person but I was determined to meet him and this might be my only chance of the day.  We walked over and introduced ourselves and he was exceptionally nice and friendly.  We had a nice little discussion about his support of wildlife (as is Janet), his lavender patent leather shoes (!), and our excitement to be at the exhibit. I could have left right then and the trip would have been worth the cost to get there. 

First event of the day was an interactive discussion by Boston's top milliner, Marie Galvin of Galvinized Headwear.  I'd never met Marie but have been aware of her contributions to the millinery world for quite a few years.  The crowd loved her as she had audience members come up on stage and she tried different shapes and styles of hats on them to give them different perspectives on how to wear a hat.

Marie had contacted me before I got to Boston hoping we'd be able to sit and chat a bit.  We did get a chance to meet but didn't have much time to sit and chat as there was so much to do that day.   I told her how much I enjoyed her presentation and all the tips, challenges, and thrills she mentioned about owning a millinery shop.  Owning a millinery shop myself, I SO related to her entertaining stories.

Next up?  A Conversation with Stephen Jones.  This sold out presentation by Mr. Jones, the V&A's curator of fashion, and the curator of the PEM's collection, was very enlightening as they discussed how the exhibit started, how some of the hats were added to the mix, Mr. Jones' first hat (great story), and how fashion itself is now regarded as more museum-worthy.  I thoroughly enjoyed this 'conversation'...except for the very annoying woman in the audience who thought the Q&A part of the event was all about her.  But I won't go into that!

Above...check out the patent leather lavender shoes!!!  Love!!!!

 Got a chance to have Stephen Jones sign my copy of Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones, which I bought when the exhibit first opened in London.

 Here I'm asking him what he thinks about some of the newer or less traditional millinery materials like plastics and wood-shaving.  Of course, his 'Wash and Wear' hat is quite an SJ icon, and was included in the exhibit.

 Because his first hat had spray-painted plastic flowers on it (yes!), we had a little laugh about using plastic in/on hats.

 Some of my favorite hats of the 250+  in the exhibit?  (Sorry I can't show pictures as photography was not allowed in the exhibit...although that didn't stop one woman from thinking the rules didn't apply to her, and had the nerve to post on a popular social media site.)  Favorites:  Striking (a hat of struck wooden matches) by Stephen Jones, the Schiaparelli 'Shoe' hat, a Caroline Reboux tricorn feather hat, Rose Royce by Stephen Jones, and so many more I can't describe.  If you get the chance to go to Boston/Salem, DO IT!  See for yourself the wide range of what millinery can be.  You will not be disappointed!

Til next time!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Felt and Straw Blocking; Puzzle Blocks, Vintage Blocks, etc

Atlanta, Georgia!  I teach here, at the Spruill Arts Center, about twice a year.  This Fall I taught a class that is relatively new.  It was Open Studio Blocking:  Straw and Felt.  The premise is that I bring a whole bunch of blocks--new, vintage, puzzle, odd, interesting, unique, fabulous! Each person blocks as many hats as they can over the blocks OR they learn the basics of blocking in a broad atmosphere of other, more experienced milliners. This class was divided into two groups, a group that is very comfortable with blocking millinery materials...and a group that has little to no blocking experience.

I'm always intrigued by these buildings in the area of northern Atlanta where I teach--Perimeter Center.  These high-rise office buildings have what I think of as wonderful wire frame construction tops!  The first time I taught wire frames in Atlanta I stayed at the hotel next to these buildings. I was back at the hotel this time and caught them at sunrise.

I loaded up my car and took about 35 hatblocks for class.  That's a big load...and heavy!  But I wanted a huge array of hatblocks for everyone to choose from.

More blocks!  These are mostly crown and whole-hat blocks.

I had 6 ladies who had never blocked before.  We did a comprehensive study on capelines--blocking, sizing, cutting crown from brim (and why!), re-attaching crown and brim (plus the specialty stitching), adding petersham, adding wire, and some other skills and techniques too.

'Olive and Jane' working on some beautiful parisisal capelines.  Great work, ladies!

Long-time students, Judy and Diane block block block block block!  Gorgeous royal blue fur felt capeline Diane is working on! I had 4 students who blocked an incredible amount of hats over 2 be finished at home.  This was about taking advantage of the many blocks available for the weekend.  And they did!

Andre works on one of MANY hats he blocked over the weekend.  Most of the experienced blockers blocked on average 6 hats.  They were only interested in using the blocks over the weekend, as they know all the finishing and embellishing techniques from past classes.

Love the colors, love the styles!

 I'll be teaching this class again next year, somewhere around the country.  I think new and experienced milliners liked the opportunity to use blocks they may have never purchased or used if not for class.  Looking forward to seeing what others do with these blocks.

Happy hatting and I'll see you real soon for another post on my blog!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Buckram, Surface Design, and French Flowers--JCCFS, 2012

For the past three years I have been fortunate enough to be asked to teach a 'Unique Offerings' class at John C. Campbell Folk School in the Appalachian region of North Carolina.  The motto of the school is 'Sing Behind the Plow' and the logo is the plow team you see above.  This metal piece I found tacked to the entrance to one of the many craft discipline studios on this beautiful 300 acres campus.

There is a very rich history to the Folk School, named after Olive Campbell's husband.  The Campbells were enamored with the rich society mountain folk lived in and documented and cataloged that society for many years.  The School is a culmination of that effort, founded by Olive Campbell and Marguerite Butler.

Gorgeous vistas all around this campus.

This year I taught a week-long class and then a weekend class.  Week-long classes start on a Sunday night and end at lunch on Friday.  Weekend classes start on a Friday night and end on Sunday at lunch.  It made for a full week of great classes, fun people, new experiences and some fabulous work from my students.

The first class was entitled Hats and the Fabrics That Love Them (Buckram and Surface Design).  Yes, that is a mouthful! The class was designed to incorporate three different ways to make a buckram frame hat, and then (the really fun part) to create your own textiles from a fabric stash, using a number of surface design techniques. 

Surface design techniques included, pleating, slashing, dissolving, overlaying, embossing, and more.  In the photo below you see a few samples and a covered buckram form without the rich textile covering as yet.  Each student was required to make at least 4 textile samples to take home with them.  They could choose whatever technique they wanted to cover their buckram hats.

Below, Cat works hard on her buckram pillbox.  Three buckram hats were made:  one was a pre-formed shape from a millinery supplier, another was a self-created dry buckram pillbox, and the other was a wet-shaped buckram form of the student's own design.

Beverly working on her pillbox.  Beverly is a committed hat-wearer and wore one each day to class.

As we progressed through the week we also progressed in difficulty of technique.  Pictures of the shapes from the wet-shaping part of the class and the most difficult of the three buckram techniques.

Marilyn gets silly!

 At the closing ceremony each week-long class displays the work they have created during their study.  I wish I had better pictures of all the work tmy class did.  Unfortunately, I only had my phone camera.  My bad.  But each student displayed some of their sample textile pieces and at least one of their hats, most displayed two and WORE one!  When it was time for me, as the instructor, to introduce our work to all the other students from the week, ALL my students paraded to the front of the auditorium so that everyone could really appreciate the WEARING of the hats!  And everyone loved it!!

Before I get into the French Flowermaking portion of my time at the Folk School I'll show you a few more pieces of the magnificent JCCFS puzzle.  These photos are from displays in the History Museum on campus, to further explain this magical place.  Read the short bio of John C. Campbell below.

John C. Campbell

Olive Campbell and Marguerite Butler.

A few more photos of sites around campus.  You walk almost everywhere on campus and all these lovely little vistas appear out of nowhere.

On to the weekend class!  French Flowermaking.  On Friday night we all processed our fabrics so that we would be ready with dry fabrics the next morning.  Weekends are very full classes here!  Because they are very drippy after the processing, we hung them out to dry under a covered area in front of the Fiber Arts Building on make-shift clotheslines.  When I went by to check on them early the next morning, the whole area was covered in fog.  Makes for a beautiful and eery photo.

Enjoy the lovely flowers made during the class from many different fabrics--silks, linens, cottons; sheers, opaques, velvets, velveteens.  Each student made two flowers--a large rose and a peony.

Many fiber arts are offered by the school over the course of a year.  If you are interested in finding out more about the school and the many other offering throughout the year, click here.  You will not be disappointed!