My recent felting focus has been making ONE hat for the upcoming BeanieFest.
However, I made TWO felted hats for the festival because it's good to have a choice when making exhibition hats. After all, there is always the worry that it might not turn out as expected. Right?
Plus, in making two, the hat that doesn't get mailed to Australia can be used in my upcoming craft fairs. For these, I like to have a few over-size AND over-the-top hats to attract visitors to come in and try on hats. (See my Local Events pages to learn where I will be this summer).
This year will be the first that I'm participating in BeanieFest which happens at the end of June. Last year, I had wanted to do it because it looks like so much fun. But, I didn't allow enough time for mailing. Not surprisingly, it can take more than three weeks for a hat to get all the way to Alice Springs, Australia.
Thankfully, this year I'm getting slightly better at looking at my calendar and planning out what I need to do. Whew.
Each year, the Beanie Festival has a different theme with somewhat confusing subsets. Thankfully, a maker doesn't need to ~choose~ where to place their hat. Instead, the judges do this. (I believe that my hat would be in the felted category, which is adorably named 'The Heart Felt Prize.' The over-arching theme this year is 'A Headful of Tunes.' If you go to the website you can download the various subthemes from the Welcome Beanie Makers page.
I decided to go with a particular song mostly because I wanted to see about felting the imagery of roads onto hats. Hence, I chose the Beatles 'The Long and Winding Road' as my design's starting point.
Two hats made, each one came out quite differently.
One of the hats is rather simple, but it's elegant. I like it because it works well visually and is rather comfortable, too. Afterwards, I almost added a door on the very top (which is mentioned in the Beatle's song). But, I decided a door wasn't needed.
On the other hand, the second hat is like the kitchen sink. It has a door and trees, and of course, the winding road. But, it's rather overdone. Additionally, I'm not yet comfortable with wearing a hat-mask, although I've read that mask-hats are quite 'on trend'. Supposedly, Hat-Masks are considered an antidote to these Selfie-Obsessed times.
First up, the Simple Hat
The lower parts of the hat are made of Gotland wool purchased from Blue Moon Alpacas. As the road winds up, I switch to Merino wool. Guess, that's rather literal, but that's how I am. In both hats, I wanted 'brightness' towards the top. On one side of the simpler hat, there's a stylized conifer tree made using a very simple book resist technique.
Next, the Over Done Hat
Had all sorts of grand imaginings for this hat. It was to be a showcase of my feltmaking skills and storytelling. I wanted to use lots of felting techniques to help give interesting textures that were reminiscent of trees. Naturally, the winding road was also a feature.
Not the Sum of its Parts
Alas, all of the elements did not play well together and needed 'editing.' Editing can take the form of removing OR massaging elements to improve the whole. As I wasn't bold enough to cut off every labored detail, instead I worked to make the hat more harmonious.
First, I shaved (with a disposable razor) the extra fuzziness from the natural gray Gotland wool which I used towards the bottom of the hat. That helped to define the details and brighten the colors. Gotland wool tends to 'eat' the Merino up.
Then, I used my rarely used needle felting tools to poke in more black wool to make the upper part of the road 'pop.' Additionally, I needle felted branches on to some of the lower gray-colored blobs which were supposed to look like trees. The result was a bit better in tieing the elements together.
Still, more editing was needed. So like a theatrical wig-maker, I hand sewed natural-colored, Lincoln longwool curls behind some of the lower level 'trees.' Most of this embellishment is towards the back of the hat. But, it helps with the 'movemen.t' Also, it connects visually to the flaming orange curls that sprout out from behind the red-colored fairy door.
Finally, I worked on the door of the hat so that it would be worthy of attention as a millinery focal point. These labors included adding needle felted vertical lines to give the illusion of wood grain. Then, I sewed on two felted door hinges, along with a doorknob of felt. I ~almost~ used a shiny, black bead for the knob, but it looked wrong - very fake.
Probably, the knob is too high up on the door. But frankly, I'm 'tired' of this hat and don't care to redo this particular detail.
And from the side - sort of. Can you see how it is almost like wearing a mask?
For me, making competition and exhibition type hats is a good activity because it pushes me to try new techniques and also spend more time than I would normally allow for my 'ready-to-wear,' everyday hats.
As you can see, the complicated hat Winding Road Hat is harder to wear (or even try on). So, I will keep it for my local craft fairs where I will be able to help visitors when they try it on.
Consequently, the simpler hat (without all the fussy foliage) is the ONE that I shall mail to Australia.
Here's the box ready to go to the post office.
Have you ever created two of an item when only ONE is needed? Please let me know in the comments below.
UPDATE: The Simple Long and Winding Road Felted Witch Hat went to Australia and is now home in Pennsylvania. It's available in my shop and will happily fly to wherever needed.