Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trip to Los Angeles/Fullerton

Earlier this year, I received an email about a great opportunity to train under Jane Smith. If you are not as big of a hat nut as I am then Jane Smith might not be known to you, but her work should. She has been on the top of the studio list for hat makers for most of the films we love: The Duchess, Howard's End, Sherlock, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter movies, etc. She has her own work circuit like a lot of studio people, London then New York then Hollywood then back to London. I did back-flips (metaphorically) when Nicolas said under no words would I turn this opportunity down. After organizing the trip, I would join nine others in a studio in Fullerton near Disneyland outside of LA for a month..but I was not a studio/theater company that this would be my office season so a month in LA was not an option. So they allowed me to be there to work on 17th - 18th century hats. That meant tricorns & bicorns - I was going to LA to make pirate hats! Fun!

That was the main focus of this trip but with the added joy of getting to see our new niece, Stella. We worked in a little site seeing plus visiting of friends & families. Our first day there was our Third Anniversary. I'm embarrassed that our first trip was downtown to the Garment District supply shopping at the California Millinery Supply, but that's how wonderful my hubby is. The California Millinery Supply is historic, not up on the latest styles but full with vintage hat making supplies.
We went there in hopes of buy some new hat blocks for my collection & for my classes. They didn't have any of that but quite a large selection of Swiss braid, if that's your thing. I have found that you can use it for interest in couture pieces. Irene warmed up to me so we had a good talk about the business then & now with all of her words of encouragement. Thank you Irene!

I have to omit, I was hoping to find some imported Japanese fashion on this too. So we walked around Tokyo Town for several hours. Ofcourse everything was in a size zero so I came away with zero clothes. We did our share of yummy Japanese pastries.
I always seem to take pictures of Nicolas eating.
Next was our obligatory urban art viewing. I LOVE outdoor urban art, so we go to the hidden neighborhoods that usually have these gems. This trip, Watts Towers. It was a very long drive through Compton & it wasn't because we were driving through some of the worse neighborhoods in LA. Honestly, they're becoming gentrified. No Starbucks but upperclass bodegas. The drive time meant that we made it to the towers after closing but they are outdoors so no biggie. I wonder about the future of urban art with the governments interest in halting immigration. Most urban art is made by immigrants with the skills they learned in the old country. Watts Towers was made by an Italian mason with just welded steel & mosaics. Beautiful.
Evidence that we did go on this trip together.

That evening we took a long walk on Venice Beach hoping to find a nice restaurant. After tons of t-shirt & paraphernalia shops, we turned around to have dinner at a nice restaurant with a modern gypsy violinist.

Next day, off to work. The rest of the week was packed with hat making & sucking in as much knowledge I could get from the master Jane Smith. Being the one out of two milliners in a group of professional costumers, it was intimidating at first. This lady worked for CBS, that one Disney on Ice, the other one from Broadway, etc I was filled in a room of years of experience. Then Jane made some wonderful compliments on my work & we all became friends...and the stories they told about behind the scenes where quite amusing. 
Blocks in the studio waiting for the craftswomen.

First hats to make- Tricorns. Jane not only makes tricorns for movies but also for the British Parliment. She knows practically everything about the dos & don'ts to the different styles of tricorns. We were each given prints from paintings or images from museums of different styles of tricorns to recreate. I was given the 'big hat' from a dandy in the French Royal court.

A snap of my reference piece.

I was hoping for an easy all-in-one block but Jane wanted us to do a crown separate from the brim. Fullerton was so warm that we were able to speed up the process by leaving the hats to dry in the loading dock. She called Fullerton the 'outdoor drying box.'
She complimented my technique saying I'm 'a strong blocker.'

One of my new friends was given a Gainsborough & was sweet to model her work for me. (Note: we never stopped working except for lunch & tea.)
I was able to bring the big hat home with me & had Torell Madsen model it for me.
Photo by Susan Bailey
 Then we moved onto bicorns. I adore the Aubrey & Maturine books so how could I not love Jane's work in the movie version of Master & Commander. Jane was so gracious that she showed me how to do the movie version of the British Navy bicorn that she fondly calls the 'Biscuit Bicorn.'
Jane showing the proportions.
Jane also carves a lot of her own hat blocks just like me *squeel* The Death Eaters block from Harry Potter is too large & is currently a hat rack in her studio. So she brought one of the blocks that she carved for making bicorns.
She let me take measurements & photos so I could carve one of my own.
The one that I made in studio had to be done traditionally. A lot of work but my textural junkie came out when they brought in the roll of imported silk plush that is used in Parliamentary garb. This is not something you can get at JoAnns. Silk Plush! That's velvet made out of silk. Delicious to the touch, working with it is like looking into a black hole.
Model: Ray Petersen, Photo: Susan Bailey
At lunch one of the days Nicolas & I were invited to the Studio Mistress's, Mela, personal studio. I would like to thank her for telling Nicolas that I don't have too many hat blocks (not like he complained) & that she splurges twice a year to import new, custom-made blocks from Guy Morse of London.
Mela's studio that is evidence that mine does not have enough blocks or cluttered.
After hours were spent meeting our new niece. Stella is such a dear. She's truely going to be a joy in our lives.
Nicolas & Stella do their first fist bump:)
The flight home was filled with me using the Delta Airlines wifi to order the special supplies that I learned about in the studio. I think that I am a better milliner after this trip. I made some new friends that were honestly said that I had to go. If what they say is true, I'll be invited to come back again. Fingers crossed!

Application for Colorado Anime Fest 2018

This portion of my blog is dedicated to my submission to the 2018 Colorado Anime Fest. If you would like to see my work more in depth, please feel free to visit my Etsy shop or my Instagram page
Variety of Ear Fascinators 
Fantasy picnic with models wearing Victoria Regina's hats.
Tricorn based on French Royal outfit from the 17th Century.
Red Wizard hat also compliments Renaissance garb.
Headdresses made with embroidered organza & french silk guipere lace.
Serpentine visors.
Lovely butterfly hats and masks.

Steampunk inspired Victorian Riding Hat.
1950s style reenactment cocktail hats.
Lolita style berets.
1920s style cloche made from fur felt.

Burlesque style corset heart fascinators.
Fantasy toppers - Aquarium top hat.

Dr. Suess inspired tiara.
Miniature Tricorns!

Example of Victoria Regina's booth display in an indoor setting.