From A Feather In A Duck Pond
To A Feather In A Hat...
...Carol Blake's experiences with miniature hat making are
an example that frequently desperation leads to inspiration.
Her career as a miniaturist began when she decided to attend
a miniaturists club meeting in her area. But there was one
catch. In order to join, Carol would have to bring something
with her. There was also a problem. She had never made a miniature
in her life!
"Well, I really panicked," says Carol, "and I wracked my
brain for things that I liked to do." Since she loves to model
antique hats and clothing, she thought...."I'll make a hat!"
She then gathered some purple felt, a piece of oversized lace,
one bead, and a feather from a duck pond to create the hat
that was to launch her career as a miniaturist. In the fifteen
years since, in addition to making them, Carol has worn a
variety of hats; from teaching miniature hat making, to selling
her creations, and producing some of the best miniature shows
Two lessons stand out from her story. First, your greatest
inspiration comes from things you love to do. Secondly, you
don't need a lot of fancy materials or tools to get started.
And in "Gallery Of Hats with Carol Blake," Volume 12 of the
multi-part Master Miniaturists Video Instructional Series,
Carol shares with you just how easy hat making and decorating
can be. The Master Miniaturists Video Instructional Series
features expert instruction by some of the country's top miniature
artisans, covering a variety of specialties.
In this volume, you'll learn how to make patterns and frames
for a Garden Hat, a Bonnet, and a free-form Victorian Hat.
However, the techniques you'll learn can literally be applied
to any hat you want to create. You'll see how easy it is to
assemble an d shape your pieces, make feathers and roses to
decorate them, and finally add the finishing touches to hats
that your miniature dolls will be proud to wear.
Carol's instructions begin with a review of the tools and
materials you'll need to get started. All are common items,
available at either miniature shows or craft stores. And she
doesn't just demonstrate these tools and materials, she explains
which one s are best for the specific hats you'll be creating.
For example, when buying glue, choose the tub of tacky glue,
not the tube. "Tube glue has been thinned already," Carol
says, "and you want your glue as thick as possible." But in
case you should need a little bit of thinned glue, she also
gives you a formula for thinning glue from the tub, instead
of buying the pre-thinned variety.
After she gathers the materials, Carol takes you step-by-step
through the process of drawing and cutting your patterns.
You'll find that even the hardest part of the process, the
free-form edge of the Bonnet, looks easy when she shows you
how to do it. The good news is, "You can use these patterns
for about fifty hat frames before they disintegrate completely."
Throughout the demonstrations, Carol adds hints and suggestions
that will make the process easier for you. For example, when
looking for an object from which to trace the pattern for
the side of your Garden Hat, she suggests using something
the size of a nickel. But she adds, "That object should be
made of plastic or glass. Don't use a wooden object because
the glue will stick to it and you won't be able to remove
the pattern from it."
Once the patterns are cut, you'll learn how to make the individual
pieces from which you'll assemble the finished hats. All the
while, Carol guides, instructs, and inspires with valuable
suggestions to making the process easier and more enjoyable.
For instance, when working with straw, "You need to pull firmly
to get the correct size," she says. "But you can get a heck
of a rope burn if you pull too fast." Carol also stresses
the importance of organizing your work area and keeping everything
handy. A nd she discloses the one thing you should never do
before working with straw.
In the final stages of the video, Carol shows you how to
assemble and shape your hat from all those little pieces you've
been making. You'll watch how seemingly random pieces are
transformed into beautiful hats right before your very eyes.
Finally, you'll learn how to decorate your creations. "This
is my favorite part," says Carol, as she shows you how to
add hat bands, ties, feathers, and roses as finishing touches
to your hats. In addition to showing you how to cut and curl
feathers, an d telling you what type of ribbon is best to
make your roses, she offers a terrific tip for knowing exactly
how many roses, ribbons, feathers, or other decorations to
add to your hats.
Using Carol's techniques, you can make a variety of styles
of bonnets and garden hats. But if you need further inspiration,
she suggests, "Go to your local library or flea market and
study books and magazines with pictures of hats. This will
give you ideas for styles you can create. After a while, it
will come to you naturally."