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  • Andrea Durnell

It has been quite a year!

I can't say that "Time flies when you are having fun" because this year was not one I want to repeat. I am filled with hope that this next year will bring good things, though. I hope I will be able to return to shows in the fall, for sure.

This will be my final year of taking my hats to shows. When I made that decision last year, it had nothing to do with the pandemic. It was mostly because having a booth with two completely different mediums is really chaotic and, frankly, really crowded. I had come to a point that I had to choose between the two. My carvings won that inner discussion because they represent me and my creativity to its fullest and they challenge and stretch me every step of their creation.

It is possible I will miss making hats and I plan to keep quite a few of my vintage wooden hat molds as mementos and, more likely, to make myself a new hat when I want one!

My old molds have instructed me while I used them and now my carvings can wear hats that benefit from years of hand forming brims and felting the crowns of bowlers, fedoras, cloches, and homburgs.

While my carvings are often influenced by early American literature and satire, my hats allowed me to step into early 20th century habits and learn how to blend those materials and styles into something that is comfortable in the 21st century.

I am quite proud that each of my roughly 200 hats a year for the past dozen years or so has been one of a kind. I am also happy that I have been able to seat these OOAK creations on heads at shows rather than selling online. I have enjoyed making sure that I found the right head for each hat!

While I was making hats last year knowing it was my last season for making them, I didn't realize I would have no way to sell them during a pandemic. I am very excited to haul them out again and give them their last hurrah this fall, assuming that can happen (Please get your vaccinations so it can!!) I put my all into this last batch and there are some really stunning hats.

Even though I have probably been practicing social distancing my whole life and haven't found that the least bit challenging, the pandemic still added a sense of deeper isolation to my days since I was not doing my customary antique shopping and traipsing around the countryside. I was able to dive a little further into the wood grain, I suppose, to bring out characters I might not have attempted if I was preparing for a show season. Part of my goal this year was to look at the pandemic as a sabbatical, a transition year to increase the numbers of carvings to fill my eventual folk art booth and to leave my hatting behind me.

Characters like the bee and the mosquito may not have had time to come alive in an ordinary year that included both hats and carvings. I take this as a good omen for future years. I don't have to overlook some of these oddballs I find in the woods while out walking!

I may finally have the time to sit quietly long enough to further develop the stories of these characters. For years I have been wanting to get their stories written down and drawn out in full. I have been looking for more ways to make all these "paragraphs" of mine come together instead of being a lot of loose ends that represent snippets of where I go, what I read, and what I do.

So, stay tuned! Find me this fall at shows. I will announce those if and when the time comes. Feel free to follow me on Facebook ( where I post my work in progress.

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