Weekly Wishlist– You made that out of WHAT?

Given my current refashioning project, it is not surprising that I am currently obsessed with the world of making beautiful things from the world of the discarded. And sometimes when I am cruising through Etsy I find absolutely gorgeous things made from the most surprising materials.

Take this hat (and then send it to me please!):

Phoenix Cap by Abscraft

When I first saw it I was wowed by the intricacy of each looped and crafted feather. Then I read the item description. Guess what this hat is made of? Give up? It’s recycled television wires. Allison of abscraft spends hours gutting old television sets for their colorful wire and then days sculpting that wire into a hat. I’d say Allison is the queen of turning trash into treasure!

Long Standoffs Pendant by Lushbeads

One look at this necklace and I think “ooo pretty metal beads.” A closer look, and a thorough reading of the item description, and I realize that those aren’t beads at all. Instead, Liz from lushbeads takes rejected computer parts and turns them into unisex jewelry. To be honest, I’ve opened up my computer a few times, and while I can appreciate the aesthetic of the circuit boards and what I can only call “diggly-bobs” inside,  I would never have thought to turn them into jewelry supplies. Kudos to you Liz!

Cordova Silver Fork Bracelet from wearetheedge

This bracelet from wearetheedge is less industrial than my other two picks for today, and the original material is therefore more obvious to me. But that doesn’t make it any less amazing! I love the way the artists have used the tines of the antique fork to hold in the opalized ammonite and then curled the remaining two tines up!

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Making Vintage Re-fashionable–Blue Maxi Dress

When I first got my back of vintage goodies from Dame to work on our collaborative refashion project, this blue maxi dress with white polka-dots jumped out at me immediately.

The white floral lace trim, the sheer blue polka dot fabric–it just screamed “picture hat” to me. Picture hats were popular in the late nineteenth century and featured broad brims with fancy decorations. So I built a picture hat frame out of buckram and wire, cut up the dress, removed some of the trim, and approximately five hours later, I had this hat:

I used the ruffle at the bottom of the dress to create the overhang on the hat and transformed the lace trim into a decorative hatband. This and other hats refashioned from vintage clothing will be available at Dame: Fine Vintage and Independent Design, in Jamiaca Plain, Massachusetts beginning in March.

Millinery Monday– Thistle Cottage Studio

Millinery design is steeped in history and in fact it could be said that much of the work of modern milliners is to revive the historical art of hat making (and hat wearing!). Today’s featured milliner is steeped in that history. With a family tree that includes the Orsini and Medici families–two of the greatest patrons of the arts in Renaissance Florence–creativity and a passion for the arts is in her blood. Elsie Collins of Thistle Cottage Studio designs studied apparel design at the Rhode Island School of Design and spent three years as an apprentice to an Italian tailor. Basically, I want to be Elsie when I grow up.

Late Victorian Pinchback Hat by Elsie Collins of Thistle Cottage Studio

In addition to theatrical costuming, and modern millinery Elsie uses her knowledge of fashion history to create authentic period reproductions like this late Victorian pinchback hat. According to her item description, hats like this would have been worn by fashionable ladies around 1898.  Elsie’s work inspires me to dig deeper into art and fashion history to learn more about the fantastic millinery traditions of yesterday.

Making vintage Re-Fashionable-Collaborative hat project with Dame in Jamaica Plain

I believe that some of my most creative moments happen when I have the opportunity to try and mesh my mind with another person’s. So when Dame, a boutique specializing in fine vintage and independent design, asked me to refashion a line of hats for them I jumped at the chance. What is “refashion” you may ask? The wonderful people at Dame define refashion as “an exercise in finding inspiration in the everyday, in the passe, and sometimes in the ‘what were they thinking?'” It is “a creative exercise in with a focus on reuse and renewal, blending the lines between what is old and what is new.”

Basically, they give me a big back of fabric scraps from their own refashioning projects plus some vintage clothes that wouldn’t sell for one reason or another and asked me to make hats out of them. The resulting hats will all be inspired by the particulars of the fabric and by spring and summer hats of yesterday.

Take this dress for example:

My husband dubbed it “the Dr. Seuss dress” due to the ruffles at the color and sleeve. Some of the ruffles were a bit stained, and the stains combined with the overall style of the dress made it something that wouldn’t sell in a fine vintage boutique. (Woozles likes it though!)

So I cut it up, cleaned up some of the trim, and turned it into a cloche style summer hat:

This hat, and the rest of the Elephunk’s Trunk: Refashion line will be available exclusively at Dame in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts starting this March.

Weekly Wishlist–Steampunk Finery

This week’s wish list is inspired by the fantastical neo-Victorian charm of steampunk fashion. With lace, brass, and felt steampunk artists create a truly funky elegance that hearkens back to a time when everyone wore hats and gusts of steam filled the air.

To add a touch of steampunk to your wardrobe, try one of Claudia Bruno’s impressive brass steampunk cuffs. Claudia adds a patina to all of her jewelry by hand to give it that special look of Victorian age. This gorgeous cuff is lined on the inside with black velvet for added comfort.

Black Patina Steampunk Cuff by Claudia Bruno

A steampunk outfit isn’t complete without a wild and crazy hat to top it off. Of course, I’m of the opinion that no outfit is complete without a wild and crazy hat, but that’s just me! For those with an inclination toward the neo-Victorian and a passion for color, nothing could be better than this vibrant hat by Delight Worthyn. The most amazing thing about this hat? It’s made from recycled t-shirts!

Spider Mum Neo Victorian Hat by Delight Worthyn

For the height of neo-Victorian culture, try a nuno felted scarflette from Rudman. I love the texture of nuno felt, and this royal purple creation in silk, merino wool, and tencel looks delightfully soft to wear. The neck is one of the more subtly sensuous parts of the body, and this scarf will accent it beautifully.

Felted Scarf-collar Nunochka by Rudman

And of course, any recreation of Victorian times would be incomplete without the image of soot smeared young boys heading to work in the coal mines. After all, where do you think all that steam comes from?

Young Miners by CoalRegionArt

Millinery….er, Tuesday–Little Old Wedding Shop

My millinery feature of the week is a day late due to technical difficulties and my own millinery exploits, but I am sure you will agree that Little Old Wedding Shop is worth waiting for. Christine has recently opened Maudie’s Millinery and Little Old Wedding Shop as a brick and mortar studio in Brisbane, Australia.  She teaches traditional millinery methods to eager students.

Pink Hat by Christine of Little Old Wedding Shop



Christine specializes in vintage inspired recreative work, taking old hats that have seen better days and working them anew. She will take the entire hat apart, wash, dye,  re-block, wire, and trim it to create a new hat better suited to the size modern heads, as vintage hats are often rather small. I find this recreative work tremendously inspiring. Christine recognizes the value and beauty of vintage objects and uses her creativity to craft them into modern masterpieces.

Milliners of Etsy–Bridal Project Runway

Due to the success of the first Milliner’s of Etsy Project Runway competition in December 2010, we have decided to do a second challenge, this time focusing on a bridal theme. I spent weeks pouring through handmade bridal gowns on Etsy trying to find the perfect inspiration piece. It wasn’t easy–there are a lot of beautiful, original, and just plain amazing dresses out there. In the end, I had to chose this crochet wedding dress designed and made by Dagmar of Sash Couture.

Crochet Wedding Dress design by Dagmar of Sash Couture

Dagmar’s dress appeals to me for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a design concept for a custom wedding gown, rather than a ready to order product. This means that she can make you a wedding dress in any style you want while giving it the special elegance of crocheted lace.As a hat designer, I can work with Dagmar to take her basic design concept–traditional bridal fashion in a less traditional material–and interpret it in my own way to create a wedding hat that goes with the dress. But the main reason that I chose the crochet wedding dress as my inspiration piece is that it is fundamentally different from everything else I saw.

Design sketching is not my forte–I can never get the image in my head on to paper quite right–but here is the concept sketch for my crochet wedding hat:

Crochet wedding hat design by Celeste of Elephunk’s Trunk

The structure for the hat will be made from millinery wire covered with horsehair crin (which despite its name is actually made from nylon these days). The headband shaped crown will then be covered with my own crochet motifs, accented by a crochet rose. For an added bit of elegance, the hat will support a double layer cascade veil in bridal tulle.