Wednesday, January 16, 2013

HatWRKS in Nashville--Gigi Gaskins, Hatter

It was cold, it was snowy, it was right after Christmas and I was in Nashville, Tennessee.  When in Nashville, you MUST go by and see hatter Gigi Gaskins at her shop HatWRKS.  Men's hats, women's hats, custom hats, and a friendly and knowledgeable owner.

I met Gigi in Los Angeles at Hat Camp last year. (Click here for the post about 2012 Hat Camp.) There were not too many people from the Southeastern part of the US in fact, there were only 3 of us...the other being milliner Dinah Makowsky from Memphis. Gigi made an impression on me not only because she's a very cool lady but also because of her tenacity in learning as much as she could, in a fairly short period of time, about hatting.  Not millinery (although she knows a good bit about millinery as well) but hatting.  Yes, there are differences.  Ah, yes, there are differences.

Below you see just a few of her hatblocks.  Most are used for men's hats, although she does make women's hats too.

So I'll try to give you a few things that I picked up in Gigi's shop that snowy Saturday afternoon and hopefully I won't flub it up too much!  Gigi, if I've totally misunderstood or misrepresented anything, I totally expect to hear from you in the comments section below.  :-)

First of all, the felts that I saw in the shop were very different from the ones milliners use.  The hatter's felts come in different weights, like Western and Dress weights, but look very different from the fairly refined and finished hoods and capelines we start with to block women's hats.  The hatter's felts look like they have been chewed up and run over by trucks.  Not refined at all! And many are already sized (stiffened) almost as hard as rock.  Got a chance to see a 'real' beaver felt, too.  Millinery 'beaver' is not really beaver fur, but hatter's beaver IS really beaver.  Below you see a few felts awaiting Gigi's expert hands...all custom orders in a stack.

Also, Gigi has some machinery and hatter's tools that we don't typically use in millinery.  Like what?  Puller-downers, tollikers, rounding jacks, and curling tools to name a few.  Here you see a few on her work table.

She also gave me a demonstration of 'pouncing' the felt, where those chewed up felts I talked about above, are refined in appearance by basically sanding away the fluff of the felt, after the blocking process.   This can take up to several hours of work to get it just right.

And then she showed me the most amazing 'trick' of the day!  If you look very closely you may be able to see FLAMES shooting from the crown of the hat.  Just another way of getting rid of the 'fluff' during the pouncing process.  I felt like we were at the circus!  It was amaaazzzing!

Nice twirling, Gigi!

Shelves of petersham and dress ribbon for men's and women's hats.  Yes, there is a difference even with the ribbons.

Thank you, Gigi, for a wonderful afternoon at HatWRKS. Great hospitality, great lessons, great customers picking up custom orders... I loved every minute of it!

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Millinery Classes...Workshops...Courses


Hoping everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's holiday.  Now time to start the new year and look forward to all the promise of a new start for each of us.

Firstly, I'm announcing the 2013 millinery courses, workshops, classes...whatever you want to call them.  Most are weekend classes but some are 4-6 days.  I'll be teaching all over the USA--Atlanta, Washington,DC, San Francisco/Berkeley, San Antonio, and some of the most prestigious art/craft schools in the country.  Hopefully, you will be able to come to a class that suits your needs.  If not please stay-tuned here because.....

I hope to be posting more tutorials this coming year.  Pictorials that will show how to work in straw, buckram, sewn braid, flowermaking, felt, feathers and more!

Thanks for reading and posting your comments throughout the year!

PLEASE NOTE THAT MANY OF THESE CLASSES WILL NOT BE LISTED ON THE VENUE WEBSITES UNTIL CLOSER TO THE DATES OF THE CLASS.  Check with them regularly as some venues fill up the classes within weeks of posting registration.

May 18-19, 2013
Spruill Center For the Arts, 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30338

Hat Shapes Using Wet Buckram: 

Unique cocktail and fascinator headpiece shapes are the goal for this fashion forward millinery class.  Learn to use buckram, a woven millinery foundation, to wet shape your hat frames. Many hat styles possible and all are student created. Wiring frames and covering with domette are also important parts of the class.  To complete your hats, learn pleating, smocking and ruching  to cover the hat frames in luscious fabrics and also how to make pretty linings. Two hats will be made in class. Individual coaching for all skill levels will be available.

REGISTER HERE (You will be taken to the venue’s webite for registration).

June 8-9, 2013
Southwest School of Art, 300 Augusta, San Antonio, TX

Dyeing to Make Hats

Easy to use, non-toxic professional dyes will be used to dye a hood (sleeve/cone) and several lengths of millinery straw yardage: sinamay, jinsin, paris cloth, silk straw and/or raffia cloth.  Techniques include gradient dyeing, vat dyeing, painting/stamping, and free-form (tie-dye) dyeing.  Make your straws unique in color, shading, design!  Time permitting we will create one free-form styled hat from the straw.

REGISTER HERE (You will be taken to the venue’s webite for registration).

June 22-23, 2013
Jacksonville Center for the Arts,
220 Parkway Lane South, Suite 1, Floyd, Virginia, 24091

Hatmaking: Blocking Straws and Felts

Interested in creating beautiful big brimmed straw hats for Summer and close fitting felt cloches for Winter? This fun-filled class allows you to use traditional millinery hatblocks, in varying shapes, to steam block straws and felts into fabulous hats.  Learn about different kinds of straw and felt, blocking techniques, adding petersham headsize ribbon, wiring brim edges, and some pretty embellishment techniques.  This class is all about old-world millinery techniques not embellishing pre-made hats.  Anyone from complete beginners to more experienced hatmakers can learn from this class. Very basic sewing skills recommended.

REGISTER HERE (You will be taken to the venue’s webite for registration).

July 12-13, 2013
Judith M. Millinery Supplies, 104 S Detroit St, La Grange, IN 46761

French Flowermaking:

French flowermaking is an age-old process of creating beautiful flowers from specialized tools and rich fabrics. Each heated tool is used to shape fabric petals, leaves, and stems, as well as the textures associated with each flower part. Learn the secrets to prepping and stabilizing fabrics, cutting, shaping and assembly of each petal and part. In this class you will be making 2-3 flowers using the radius head, rattail, spoon, hammer, and knife. Patterns for 3 flowers, stamens and wire will be used along with natural fabric choices--silk, cotton, linen, rayon, bamboo, and lightweight woolen--to create your flowers.

REGISTER HERE (You will be taken to the venue’s webite for registration).


Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, 2982 Adeline Street Berkeley, CA 94703

July 24-25, 2013
Shaded French Flowers:
Interested in creating more natural looking flowers for your hats or home decor?  Learn not only two methods of creating beautiful hand-made flowers using heated flowermaking tools, but learn tips and techniques for shading, granulation, and mark making.  You will learn how to use the various heated tools to create petals full of curls and veining, but also how to add further realism to the flowers by adding color and shading for beauty and depth of perception.  Two assembly techniques will offer you choices on entirely different types of flower backs, important in how they are used on hats, garments and home decor. Patterns for flowers included in class materials--rose and camilla.

REGISTER HERE for Shaded French Flowers (You will be taken to the venue’s webite for registration).

July 26-27 , 2013
Buckram Hats — Pre-Formed and Wet-Shaped:

Create two fabric covered hats using techniques for working with a millinery foundation material--buckram.  Learn not only the different types of buckram available, but about pre-formed shapes/frames as well.  One hat will be created from a selection of commercially available pre-formed shames; additionally you will design your own hat frame using the wet-shaping method.  Learn to cut designs, wire the shapes, cover with domette, and ultimately several fabric manipulation techniques to beautifully and uniquely cover your hat frames. Linings will also be demonstrated. Both hats will be small cocktail or fascinator type hats, but bigger shapes (and the differences in covering with fabrics) will be discussed in class.

REGISTER HERE for Buckram Hats (You will be taken to the venue’s webite for registration).

September 14-15, 2013
The Art League School/Torpedo Factory
105 North Union Street Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Block Party — Open Studio Hat Blocking

Beginning through advanced milliners will enjoy this class of blocking straws and felts over traditional hat blocks. The Studio will make available over a dozen new and vintage hat blocks to use over the weekend. Beginners will learn the very basics of steam blocking and more advanced students have an opportunity to block as many hats as they like over the more complex hat blocks. Each will progress at their own comfort level. Learn about the blocking differences in felts, straws and other millinery mediums; puzzle blocks; shaping and couture finishing techniques for incredible hats. Many hat styles. Individual coaching for all skill levels will be available.

REGISTER HERE (You will be taken to the venue’s webite for registration).

September 22-28, 2013
Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts, 556 Parkway Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Hats, Textiles, Straws to Dye For

Immerse yourself into a weeklong study of millinery techniques, surface design/fabric manipulation, and multiple methods of dying straw for hats.  Firstly, learn to dye natural straw millinery forms and yardage, add some fabric manipulation (slashing, overlaying, dissolving, etc.) to create rich textiles for embellishment, and finally learn some old-world steaming, blocking, and free-form millinery techniques to create a number of unique hats.  A rare combination of skills that beginner to advanced milliners and surface design students will appreciate.  Many styles of hats, many embellishment options, and m,any colors and hues will be combined for beautiful, even quirky resulting headpieces.  Fun and inventive!

REGISTER HERE (You will be taken to the venue’s webite for registration).

October 19-20, 2013
Spruill Center For the Arts, 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30338

To be Announced...