Friday, January 28, 2011


I'm taking a millinery class! It meets at the teacher's studio in West Seattle on Thursday nights for four weeks. I've been to two so far. This is the teacher's website:

Check out her work, it's beautiful! I took one look and decided that I definitely had stuff to learn from her.

Although 90% of what we are learning is a total refresher course from the grad school buckram hat segment, I've still gleaned some great tips, which I have either forgotten from before, or which are contrary to what I was taught. That's always a really interesting thing - when, for example, one professional says "ALWAYS straighten the wire out before you use it!" and another says "Never totally straighten the wire unless you are wiring something totally flat in all dimensions; work with the curve that is naturally in the coil of wire."

This lady didn't mention straightening the wire at all. (Ain't that fascinating?) but she really stressed HOW you use the bias, and not just WHAT bias does. This was new info to me, and totally worked. (Or - as previously mentioned, perhaps I forgot that from before, but I don't think so.)

There are some serious advantages to taking this course:
  • It has gotten me out of my "I can't go anywhere but work, home, Zach's school, Drs and the grocery store" funk.
  • It is more than a little empowering to navigate a new bus route to get to and from where you want to go. "Hmm....that worked great. Where ELSE do I want to go?"
  • I have made an excellent contact in the hatting world, and one who is willing to share sources, information, and years of experience. There is always something you can learn from skilled artisans.
  • It is always interesting to walk around in a life you might have chosen. Custom hats are this lady's full-time job, and I'm enjoying thinking about what grass is green and which parts of my own lawn I prefer.
  • I'm making a hat - that I don't need, or need to sell. It is absolute, joyous art - just for the sake of it. I'm making a teensy little perchy green top hat.
  • I'm interested to see how the quality of my finished product compares to the other members of the class's work. It would be affirming to find my buckram work to be acceptable to me after many years of not doing any.
  • I've gotten wind (from Ms Izzie Lewis) of a vintage embellishments class that I MUST sign up for in Seattle. (I wouldn't have found it otherwise.) New cockades for the Trulyhats!! These things are not in any book I have found, and I WANTNEED to know how to do them.
  • Apparently there are other classes that I can take from her, again not in any course catalog. I can't wait to take her felt class - I wonder what fabulous improvements in process and/or quality I'll glean from that!
All in all - a big win.

Also-I've started an actual supplies source list - no longer content to go by this big cardboard box in my shop full of catalogs, business cards, and swatches. It's a sortable excell sheet (of course). It's remarkable that it has taken so long for me to get to this point. I kept thinking - why do I need three different suppliers for millinery wire? Shouldn't I just find the least expensive one and order from there?  The trouble is - supply shops seem to be closing down in droves. I lost Greenberg and Hammer this year, and I've no idea where I'm going to get reasonably priced corset steels, for example.  If I'd had this sheet, I'd have my second choice place all lined up, and could add to it when I'm browsing for sources. (which seems to be my favorite passtime.)

In other news - I think the perfect record of "nobody has ever not paid me" might have just been scrapped. I'll re-send the invoice and see what transpires.

Cheers, all!

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