I got to size five hats today, some of which are of particular interest. I've got one of the custom Cavalier hat orders pulled, sized, and wired, and it's working so well that I went ahead and ordered the rest of the blanks in the other requested colors. Though they were not the cheapest blanks out there, this particular company does several steps for me (blanks are indivudulaly made to order with the crown/brim break right where you ask for it to be, and you can specify a nice small starting headsize, which means no chance of having to shrink a head opening) AND seems to produce a thick, luxurious product. They are sturdy and lovely to work with, and I'll be proud of the end result. I call that a win! Here's the first custom order-in progress, in chocolate brown fur felt.
Here is a prototype of a similar in-progress hat, out of a rusty brown velour fur felt. It's coming together nicely, but these blanks can only be used on the larger headsize hats, or on this particular curvy topped block, which uses up the height of the crown that is naturally in the blanks. With these - one size is all they offer, and it's more like a 23 for starters. It's coming together very nicely, and will look gorgeous all finished up. The color is sortof like russet velvet.
Now, in order to use these velour blanks, I CAN cut the brim and the crown apart, pull and stiffen them separately, and reattach them. I've got two black cav hat prototypes that are going this way right now, and are working fine. Sadly, that technique adds about 50% more time and isn't as clean looking as all-in-one.
Also, I am finally using a one-of-a-kind blank I was given by a friend back in Ontario. It's a long-haired blank, very probably beaver fur. It's also screaming blue, and dyed the whole bathroom when I pulled it.
I have to say it has really exceeded my expectations. It looked like a hairy, nasty mass, till I got it stretched on the blocks, and then brushed in the direction of the fur. (Which I learned back in grad school to most professionally refer to as "with the kitty.") Now it looks all gleaming ad well-groomed and silky.
Still electric blue :)