Birds’ nests for your hair

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to include my millinery repertoire to include hats made from sinamay, a woven straw fabric. Sinamay is supposedly very easy to block as its open weave makes it easy to stretch and pull on the bias. When I went to buy some, I fell in love with a novelty textured sinamay called Medley Tuft. Here, instead of a grid, straw fibers in two colors swirl around randomly to make a straw cloth with a funky texture.  I didn’t realize until the sinamay arrived that the unusual weave made it much more difficult to work with, especially blocked on its own without a regular sinamay. So it sat in my supply box for a year while I tried to figure out what to do with it.

Then I started making my Peace Hat collection, and I saw the Medley Tuft sinamay in a new light. Why, all those random bits of straw woven together looked just like a bird’s nest! And so my bird’s nest fascinators were born!

Orange bird nest fascinator

Blue bird’s nest fascinator

New product line–Peace hats and hair accessories

I’ve been folding origami paper cranes on and off since I was in elementary school. Cranes are the first origami I learned to do, and pretty much the only one I ever remember. Sometimes I make them out of napkins at restaurants, bits of receipts, anything I can get my hands on. I like to keep my hands busy.

Long thought to grant wishes, origami cranes became associated with peace after twelve-year-old Sadako Sasaki tried to stave of her own death from leukemia by folding 1000 paper cranes. She had been two years old when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, about a mile from her home. 

About a year ago, I put one on a cocktail hat in my shop. I liked that hat, and have always intended to make more like it. This week I decided to start an entire line of hats and hair accessories featuring paper cranes. I started by folding a bunch of cranes.

I spent the rest of yesterday wrapping metal hair combs in ribbons and gluing the cranes to the combs. The first Peace Crane hair comb is now available in my etsy shop:

I will be adding the rest of the hair combs, as well as some fancier hats over the course of the week.

Eventually I would like to donate some of the proceeds from the sale of the Peace Line to an organization working for peace in the world. However, since it is against Etsy TOU to publicly state that proceeds go to charity unless the seller has contacted the organization and received permission, I want to wait and see how well these sell. I don’t want to contact an organization, receive permission to publicly announce that I am donating to them, and then end up raising a whopping $5.00 or something. Should the line take off, I will keep you posted on what organization I will be donating to.

Peacock feathers, ostrich feathers, pheasant feathers…oh my!

Fun, unique materials come from all sorts of sources. Back at the end of February, my roommate and I were parting ways–Hassan and I were preparing to move up to Somerville into a larger apartment with new roommates in preparation for our baby–and our room mate Corin was heading to Northampton en route to larger adventures. Consequently, she was trying to get rid of a lot of her stuff. That worked out well for us–we got the couch, TV, and dining room table. Corin also offered me some of her jewelry, most of which was not my style. But one necklace and earring set caught my eye as something aching to be transformed into a fun and funky hair accessory. Corin was nice enough to give it to me to do with as I pleased.

This is the hair clip I made from the pendant. It has four peacock feather eyes that I trimmed, a white ostrich plume, and a hand curled pheasant feather. I hope to get a picture of it modeled soon so that I can show what it actually looks like worn. The earrings match the pendant, but are about half the size. I haven’t decided yet what I want to do with them. This feather fascinator is now for sale in my etsy shop.

Work In Progress–Snowflake hat complete!

All to often for me “work in progress” really means “piece I have started and is now sitting in a Rubbermaid bin while I am distracted by other things.” I started designing this cocktail hat at the beginning of February, worked on it a little bit, and then let it lie for about a month. Granted, I had other things on my plate like the Milliners of Etsy Bridal Challenge and moving to a new apartment. But since one of my goals for April is to finish the items I’ve begun, I’ve been hard at work all week stitching and embroidering. The snowflake cocktail hat is complete!

Blocked from wool felt, wired to keep its shape, hand embroidered with both satin stitch and Indian shisha mirror work, and decorated with glass seed beads, this hat took almost nine hours to complete. I am happy with the way that it came out though, so it was worth the time!

The inside is lined with grey dupioni silk:

Ask and you shall recieve!

According to a poll I am conducting on my facebook fan page, most people would like to see more feathered hair clips in my shop. The poll has only been running for about eighteen hours now, so results could change, but since I am always eager to listen to my fans I spent most of yesterday working on some new feathered clips.

Hair clip with brass cameo and peacock feathers

When I saw this Vintaj brass cameo in the shop of Unique Women in Business member SoManyBeads, I fell in love immediately. I have been incorporating cameos into my hair clips for a while now–I like the air of mystique the women’s faces bring to a piece–but I hadn’t seen one made of brass before. The metal cameo seemed to be the perfect compliment to the metallic sheen of the peacock feathers. This hair clip is now available in my etsy shop.

The poll is still running on my facebook page, so if there is something you would like to see in my shop head on over and tell me what you think!

April 2011–Goals for my business this month

Today was my last day at my day job. Starting Monday, I will be a full time milliner, at least for the next two months. After that I will be a milliner and a mom and who knows what that will do to my schedule! I figured this was a good time for me to sit down and think about what my goals for the month of April should be. I have general goals for the year, some of which I have already accomplished and some of which are more ongoing targets.

In the past I tried to make it a goal to list a new item in my etsy shop everyday. I pretty quickly found that this was influencing the kind of items I was making, skewing my shop toward things like bobby pins that I can make relatively quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I love my organza flower bobby pins–they are fun and elegant but easy to wear for all sorts of every day occasions. But I also love my more extravagant creations, things like crazy cocktail hats that take any where from five to twenty hours to put together. If I am trying to list something every day, those projects get pushed to the sidelines in favor of something I can get done faster.

So for 2011 I resolved to make sure I spent some time every day working on creating something. I haven’t always been good about it, but I have been spending more time on product creation than I was before. The downside of this approach is that I end up starting a lot of projects that I don’t finish. I currently have about nine works in progress at various stages of completion.

So for April 2011 I have the following goals:
1. Continue to work on creating something everyday.
2. List two new items every week.
3. Do not start any more projects until I have completed the ones I have already begun. By the end of the month I would like to have no more than three concurrent works in progress.

What are your goals for April?

Work in Progress–MOE Project Runway Complete!

I missed the deadline for the Milliners of Etsy Bridal Project Runway Challenge, and thus was not eligible for the actual competition. Despite this, I wanted to push on and finish the crochet hat and veil that I had designed. After all, I had already put about fifteen hours into the project when the deadline came and went. And I am glad I did! I am very proud of the finished product.

This picture shows the hand crocheted motifs that decorate the wire frame of the hat. If you look closely, you can see the crin covering and even some of the ribbon wrapped wire of the frame.

This picture shows the trailing cascade veil. I machine stitched pearl cotton thread around the edge of the veil as a decorative trim and to tie it in with the crochet theme of the hat. The veil is made of fine nylon illusion tulle and has two tiers.

Things I learned from this project:

  1. Everything takes longer than I think it will. All told, this hat took about 19 and a half hours of crafting time. 
  2. I learned a lot of new hat making techniques! Before this hat I had never made a crochet motif (I had started a few doilies, but never finished them). I had never made a wire hat frame before. I had never worked with horsehair crin before, and I had never made a traditional wedding veil. The fact that I was teaching myself how to do basically every part of this hat as I went probably explains lesson #1.

Dagmar has been hard at work on the wedding dress that inspired this hat as well:

I can’t wait to see it when she is done!