www.silverhillcreative.com will be coming soon! Until then, please enjoy my blog or visit my Etsy shop.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

One Year on Etsy

I have had an Etsy shop exactly one year today!

In that time, I have made 12 sales, to average exactly one a month. It doesn't sound like a lot (considering that some Etsy sellers have hundreds of sales or more). Considering that hats are a much tougher sell than something like greeting cards, I regard it as quite an accomplishment.

Baby steps to be sure. Etsy is not a place to get found. There's just too much stuff on there to even have a good shot at showing up in searches. Most "hat" results on Etsy are crocheted beanies or scrub caps. Ugh! But it is a good place to set up and facilitate e-commerce without having to set up a standalone web site, shopping cart, etc.

For today only (Oct. 31) until around noon tomorrow (Nov. 1), I am having a huge sale to celebrate my anniversary! 25%-45% off everything in my shop, with most things 40% off. No coupon code needed; just shop at the link below:

Silverhill Creative Millinery on Etsy

Monday, October 21, 2013

Creating Hats for Theatre, Part II

I wrote before about the logic (or, maybe, just the biased enthusiastic desire) behind making hats for "Pirates of Penzance." And shared my findings on hat styles/silhouettes circa 1877.

So this post is a little about the artistic decisions and mechanical challenges of the hats.

Pirates and maidens. (Photo by Adam Silverman.)
First off, the costumes. The costumer finished the dresses well before I began any work on the hats. So the hats were specifically designed to coordinate with the dresses (as well as each actor). Picky historians will note that the dresses are not strictly historically accurate in terms of cut, colors and fabrics. They are costume-y ... and delightfully sweet and silly in the pastel color scheme. They are fabulous costumes! And for community theatre (and a community theatre budget), they are truly amazing. The style was the thing: a slightly cartoonish aesthetic that was part of the director's wonderful vision for the show.

Thus, instead of trimming the hats in a variety of colors (which might be more historically appropriate), I made monochromatic hats for each of the four maidens. I used scrap fabric leftover from the dresses. Except for the lavender hat, which was hand-shaped sewn straw base, the girls' hats were made of buckram and wire and covered in fabric. (This was a fun and challenging step outside of my comfort zone, which is primarily felt.) ... And, of course, I had to put several matching ostrich feathers on each hat!

Mabel. (Photo by Adam Silverman.)
Mabel's hat was a different matter. As a character, she is "other." She enters separately from the other girls, and her storyline is very different from theirs. So I didn't have to adhere to the same choices with her hat. She didn't have to be as monochromatic as the other girls, which is good because the green of her dress would have been too much if the hat were the same color! I used a straw base (hand-blocked/shaped) and used four different colors of green to trim it (1=the brim edge, 2=the crown ribbon, 3=a ribbon to tie behind her hair and 4=the kelly green on a ruffle/bandeau at the back and as some of the ostrich feathers on the hat). Ivory ostrich feathers were on top to keep the green ostrich feathers from looking too intense. I am please with how well the greens pull together without matching.

Mabel's hat was also able to be less secure than the other four hats.

The four maidens had to do the following in the hats: run/scamper around, jump up and down energetically, be captured by pirates and struggle to get free, a bit of choreography that knocked the hats about sometimes, faint (lavender) ... oh, and bend upside down to start to untie boots!

"A man!" (Photo by Adam Silverman.)
The photo above was taken immediately after we stood up after bending over to untie our boots. The hats are still on! The director marveled at how unheard-of it is to have hats on stage go through all that and still stay in place.

Bad blogger that I am, I neglected to take pictures of the undersides of the hats. They were not pretty! But they were functional, and that is what matters. At the front of each hat, I put a hair comb, so the hat would be secured at the front as it slid back onto the hair. Clips or horsehair loops at the sides gave a little extra insurance, but they weren't a primary securing method. At the back, stiff wire loops were able to slide down into the hair at the back of the skull. Pinning those wires to the hair was what enabled them to stay in place so well. Again, strange-looking to any layperson who might pick up one of the hats, but invisible on stage.

During the tech rehearsal, the director said to me "You're just beaming when you look at those hats!" And so I was. I am quite proud of my work. More than one person commented to me that the hats pulled the costumes together and were the icing on the cake. Combining my passions for millinery and for theatre was quite a treat.

Maidens spying on Mabel and Frederic. (Photo by Adam Silverman.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Creating Hats for Theatre

Hats on stage can be a nightmare. They shadow the face. They're another costume piece to locate, match and purchase. They can fall off at inopportune times.

For the Stowe Theatre Guild production of "The Pirates of Penzance," I couldn't bear to see the ladies go hatless. From a historical accuracy standpoint, they should have hats. Ladies outside in 1877 absolutely would have worn hats.*

The wonderful thing is that the first hat problem was immediately solvable. Hats from the bustle era were small affairs that were worn tilted forward onto the forehead. Sometimes the angle was so extreme that the hat was almost vertical. (You can see some of my research on my ca. 1877 Pinterest board.)

Four maidens. (Photo by Adam Silverman.)
As for the second obstacle, that was pretty simple, too. Finding/matching hats was no problem with a milliner in the cast. The only question was expense. I knew that the theatre couldn't afford to pay me for my work. I volunteered to create hats for the five girls in the show just for reimbursement of supplies. (And I ended up donating the cost of supplies I used from my personal stash.)

See, I also played Kate in the production, and I wanted hats, darn it!

Aside from that, I thought it would be a fun project where I could do an entirely different style of hat, get more practice working with buckram and do (gasp) theatrical millinery. In traditional/couture millinery, everything is sewn and finished off. In theatrical millinery, it's okay to use fabric glue, glue guns, even staples and to not finish the inside beautifully. It felt so strange to use glue on hats, but in the interest of time and cost, I did. And I would cringe a little to see the wonky, unfinished undersides/insides of the hats. ... But when they were on, you couldn't tell. They looked beautiful onstage.

More about the process of creating hats for theatre in Part Two ...

19th-century style hats. (Photo by Adam Silverman.)

* They probably would have had parasols, too. But I'm not a parasol-maker! Haha!

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Pirates of Penzance" Photos

I created five hats for "The Pirates of Penzance." A blog post about the process, etc. will be coming soon. For now, you can check out several photos I uploaded to my Facebook page.

"Pirates of Penzance" photos

Here's one to whet your appetite: