This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The hats have all been wet felted and it is time to sit down for a one on one session with each and every one to decide if it is finished as it is, needs a band, or is ripe for needle felting or vintage pins.
My studio is bursting with hats as are all my racks and cupboards, but I will begin to make sense out of them by separating them into categories. The ones that have no desire for anything more will have my label sewn in and their price tag attached and will be bagged and stowed until fall. This makes room for the other two categories.
Once I have determined how many are in each group, I will dig through my bins of vintage leather and embellishments to see what I have that will perfectly accent each hat. This process reminds me of those days when I was a kid pretending I was digging for treasure out in the pasture where Freddy the Pony lived. I found all sorts of interesting things out there, none of it worth a dime, but not having another care in the world is a feeling worth millions. I can try out all the options and change my mind if I want to! And, I do play with a lot of ideas.
When I reach the bottom of my bins of inspiration, it is time to really go treasure hunting! I have gone to flea markets in Paris and Quebec (not for quite a few years, but I am due), however this year I am heading to an Antiques Extravaganza where antique dealers from the Midwest, South and East converge in rural Ohio for a massive sale covering an entire fairgrounds. It takes days to see it all properly but it is here that I will find antique fabric, leather, pins and other oddities for the remaining hats and for this year's batch of dolls.
The thrill of the chase is half the fun. I don't know what I am looking for, so I keep an open mind, and don't know what I will find but I always come home refreshed and inspired by new materials I can't wait incorporate. It is a rare few days away from the studio and much needed as a transition from felting to design, and very soon into Carving Season!
I do love my job.