Top O the Evening to you!
It is a warm Monday night in Albuquerque as I sit here typing away on the computer for this post while down the hall my love shouts football jargon and makes me smile! (yes a bit early for the season)
I realize I am over a week late in posting an art blog and all I can say for myself is, I always allow the good things in life to interrupt my intentions. What’s that saying? “Life is what happens when your busy making plans” – or something like that! I am an advocate for life happening vs making plans for life to happen, especially when it is life that makes me smile!
I can’t say I had the most productive week and a half but I did create a little something I am pleased to share. Which of course brings me right back into my title of this little post!
“Top O the Evening to you!”
When I hear this term I get this old English visual of a gentleman raising a top hat to a lady passing in her layers of dress and bonnet upon her head as she replies, “and to you kind sir!” …perhaps that’s the storyteller in me coming out but I assure you the top hat is more than visible in my mind and prevalent in this post. You see, I fancy the days of old and the wardrobes of corsets and bustled dresses and men in tails holding canes and wearing top hats. What a stylish time period and the beauty of this time period is it is still embraced in fashion and new styles that are often emerging these days in new and unique ways, such as in steampunk fashion. Top hats specifically are fun and not just meant for gentlemen and this artist here (meaning me) decided I had to have my very own top hat and it definitely had to be a me kind of top hat!
Now if you have ever priced fancy top hats you know that they can run a pretty penny. Being a “starving artist” there was no possible way I could shell out a couple hundred to purchase any top hat of my choosing, so I decided to make my own! I did some research, gathered my supplies and I actually created my very own top hat!
I have never before attempted this mind you so I knew there would be some mishaps and frustrations but I made it through and now I have some tips to share with you!
I am going to try to break this down best I can and attach photos.
I didn’t use an exact pattern as I tend to work off of “This looks about right!” mentality.
The first three images are the frame built from corrugated cardboard, the top, the wall of the hat and the brim.
Top – I cut wedges around the outer circle of the top of the hat to allow it to fit the wall of the hat.
Wall – I shaped the wall to fit my head. I did find I had to decrease the height of the wall down to about 6 inches.
Brim – The brim is challenging as it is not a circle but an ellipse. I don’t happen to have any tools for drawing an ellipse at this time so I had to wing it a bit. On the inner circle of the brim I cut wedges to allow it to form a circle and glue to the walls of the hat. If you look within the wall of the hat you can see the top already glued in place. The wedges bent inward and allowed for the support of the wall when glued.
Once brim is glued in place I taped the wedges down and placed a form inside the hat frame to add pressure to the walls allowing time for glue to dry.
I used left over leather from a purse I had. (which I had also previously made shoes out of…old purses come in handy!)
The leather was a dark golden brown and I wanted a darker red color so I dyed the leather using Dr. Martins India Ink.
After allowing the ink to dry on the leather I cut my pattern for the top of the hat and glued the leather in place. At this time I also cut my pieces for the walls and brim.
Using corrugated cardboard wasn’t the best choice after all and knowing this I would now choose a thick smooth cardboard or illustration board perhaps for future hats. Corrugated is recommended as it allows for curvature however it makes for a lumpy form…
To smooth the lumps of the corrugated cardboard I glued felt in place on the underside of the brim.
In working the hat, you really want to work the top of the hat, then the top of the brim and then the bottom brim.
There was a bit of trial and error in this as this was my first hat.
This is the material I chose for the bottom of the hat as well as the top of the brim and parts of the wall.
You can see I also cut wedges in the top pattern of the leather to allow it to shape to the circle of the form.
Wedges were also cut on the bottom brim pattern of the material to allow it to sit inside the wall of the hat.
To apply material to the top brim of the hat I cut the same pattern I used for the bottom brim and created a hole in the center and wedges till the pattern slipped down over the form of the hat to rest on the brim.
View of the top of the hat.
Originally I thought I would decorate the brim with this gold ribbon and black velvet…trial and error…as I ended up removing that detail.
I used the cut pieces of black leather, more purse leather and dark red taffeta to attach to the outer wall of the top hat. I used a glue gun at the highest setting to attach all pieces. (make sure to wear safety goggles when using a glue gun on the highest setting! I speak from a frightened experience and the memories of a once burned and blistered eyelid thanks to an unwarranted attack from a glue gun…) I also used a grommet tool to attach grommets to the leather to allow for a ribbon lace up in the front of the hat as well as the back of the hat.
I used left over pieces of leather and taffeta to create two flowers and some black lace to attach around the hat for decoration.
This is my finished top hat.
If you have questions about this process or any other art/craft question feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you!
I am still working on the portrait of my grandfather and hope to post an update soon!
Thank you for reading and following along!
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