Last week I posted a few photos of me dyeing a rainbow hat for a customer. Well this past weekend I finished that very same hat. But since it was a holiday weekend and I couldn't ship the hat out anyway I decided to take it out to one of my favorite photo locations and take a few shots of it. Of course I couldn't do that without also dressing up for the occasion in my rainbow witch costume! And we had a friend visiting us for Easter who is also a talented photographer (and I may have asked him to bring his camera for the visit). So then we also had a super photographer. All of the sudden my little improvisational outing turned into a full-blown photo shoot! But I didn't mind at all. After spending so much time making the perfect rainbow hat it was really fun to celebrate the completion of the project with photos and friends.
And here are the best of the photos we took!
What makes this hat especially unique (besides all those glorious rainbow colors of course) is the wide brim. Although I love all my hats equally it is extra-special to see a rainbow hat with a nice big brim. It just makes the whole thing feel that much more witchy or wizardy.
Now I have enough new photos to make a new Etsy listing so that anyone who wants a rainbow hat with a wide brim will be able to buy one even easier.
Because we had our guest photographer my usual photographer Grumpy Husband had nothing to do. To keep from getting too grumpy and bored he took a few candid shots. Thanks GH!
Why have one color when you can have them all?
A wizard hat or a pixie hood is certainly a unique item to own and wear out to a convention, a festival, or even just to walk your dog around the neighborhood. But when those items are made out of such a wide sampling of bright colors they are impossible to miss! Making a rainbow hat though is not a simple process. This is especially true because I dye the hats myself. Here then is a short history of how I came to make rainbow hats, featuring some recent process photos of me actually adding the rainbow to a rainbow hat.
At the very beginning, when I first offered rainbow items for sale, I purchased my wool already dyed in rainbow colors. I didn't know how to dye myself yet and so buying it already done was the only way I could make the colorful things I really wanted to make. The problem is that really vibrant rainbow colors can be hard to find when looking for wool that has already been dyed. It can also get expensive to pay other people to do that dye work for you.
Eventually, out of sheer frustration with the slow and expensive color hunting I had to do whenever I wanted to make a rainbow item, I really decided to teach myself to dye. Up until that point I had resisted the idea of learning. What little I had read was intimidating, talking about chemical processes, the numerous kinds of dye you could buy, what dyes worked with what fibers, and a whole bunch of other details. Just like how I taught myself to do wet felting though I kept reading and experimenting as much as I could. In the end it simply was a matter of overcoming that intimidating and dunking the wool into the broth of dye to see what happened.
At first it was a mess. Colors were too strong or too weak. Things came out only partially dyed. Dye was spilled all over the place (thank goodness I had a black stovetop). Eventually though I began to understand how long things needed to sit in the dye, the temperatures they needed to be, how to use vinegar, and all the basics. Getting a white hat blank to become another color was no longer magical but practical. It was something I could do for myself.
The next step forward then was learning how to dye my hats with multiple colors. The biggest problem I had to overcome in learning this process was figuring out how to control the dye. Painting or dropping the dye directly onto the wool worked the best for the sort of layering I wanted to do, but working with liquid dye is like trying to take care of a big box of happy energetic puppies. Unless you are tightly controlling that dye the colors will go wherever they want. They will drip through the hat. They will mix. They will swirl. Drips and drops will fly everywhere. I had to learn how to keep everything in its place during the long steaming process, and more than one hat came out with big gooey blotches of brown where the different colors pooled together.
Using bottles (like in the pictures) helps. The dye though needs to be dispensed with tight control. And there is still some likelihood that something random will happen and the colors will mix all together in a way that ruins the rainbow colorway. Then I have to dump the hat into the black dye pot and start again from scratch.
But no one said that making such vibrant colors would ever be easy!
If you are interested in learning more about how to make a hat for yourself check out the tutorial section at my Etsy shop. The tutorials are PDFs that you can easily download after purchase. If you are making your hat for a specific event though give yourself plenty of time. It may take some time to gather all the materials you need, and practice is essential!
By next week I hope to post photos of the finished rainbow hat that I was making in this post. If you want to see how it all ended up come back and visit in a few days!
This past weekend I attended the Lexington Comic & Toy Con, a great mid-sized convention right in the heart of Kentucky. I have managed to go to the con for the last two years but this was my first time going in a full cosplay costume. I decided to build a more adventurous steampunk outfit than my Victorian-styled steampunk costume (that you can see here). The centerpiece to the entire thing was my black steampunk top hat which fit together perfectly with my black-and-white costume.
Part 1: Getting Ready
I spent months gathering up all the pieces of this costume and matching them to the hat and the overall theme of elegant adventure that I was going for. My belt in particular was something I was proud of because I had built it myself from all kinds of bits & bobs, rivets & cogs. But right at the beginning of a photo shoot, only a few days before the convention, the belt buckle completely shattered. There was no way to replace it that close to the convention date and I began to worry that I would have to switch costumes or even skip the costume altogether for another year.
It just so happened though that some of my family was visiting on the same weekend as the con and they brought with them a big jar of buttons and other little things. After digging around in the jar for a while I found the two halves of an interesting vintage belt clip. It was maroon colored and did not match the belt at all though so I had to figure out how to paint the clip in metallic colors and then add a patina-like coloring to age the clip so it would match the whole costume. In the end I learned a new skill, repaired the belt, and saved the costume! It was wonderful serendipity that relatives from across the country would drop a new belt clip right in my lap only a day after the original was lost and just in time for the con.
Part 2: At the Con
In just the couple of years since I started attending this convention it has grown quite large. This year I was able to spend awhile talking to several other crafters who attended and ran their own booths. My first time at the con there was only one steampunk vendor, but this year there were at least four, as well as a corset maker, a wigmaker, a cat-ear vendor, and many other handmade cosplay accessories. I could have spent the whole day just getting to know each crafter vendor and looking through all the wonderful things they brought with them!
As the name of the convention implies there were also several dozen toy vendors at this convention. My favorite toys are the original first-generation My Little Ponies which I collected a ton of as a girl, and I still collect them when I can. There were not too many ponies to be seen but it was still fun to dig through the bins and peak through the boxes hoping for a pony treasure trove.
There were several other people at the con also dressed in costumes that I bumped into. One of the first costumes I saw was a Rose Quartz cosplay from the TV show Steven Universe (a favorite of Grumpy Husband). There was someone dressed as Bumblebee from the Transformers movies as well as a blow-up Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who attends every year. There were also many Deadpool sightings as well as a fleet of Dr. Whos and Harry Potters (and friends). And as always the 501st are not to be missed.
Part 3: Ending the Day
The last day of the convention just a few minutes before closing time I was looking around for one last interesting photo to take before I called it quits and headed home myself. It just so happened that outside of the main convention hall there was a group who made life-sized and life-like Proton Packs and as the convention was winding down they were offering a few last-minute photo ops for a small donation (all proceeds to be given to a children's hospital). It was a perfect opportunity!
The Proton Pack was bigger than I first thought it would be but it actually really matched my adventurous steampunk costume. With Grumpy Husband taking as many candid photos as his cellphone would allow I did my best to smile, pose, and never cross the beams. The perfect end to another fun convention in Lexington. I can't wait until 2017! I wonder what costume I will wear next year?
It's been a long and lazy Winter. Here in Kentucky the winter was fairly mild, with just a few short bouts of snow and ice. That has been a good thing overall but I think it gave me Spring Fever too early! Since halfway through February I have been all set for Winter to be over. So it's no surprise that when the first day warmer than 60 degrees rolled around I grabbed a couple of my hats, packed my grumpy photographer into the car, and headed out for our first photo shoot of the 2016 season.
Hat 1: The "Woodland Witch" Hat
We decided to photograph two hats in a row under one of our favorite trees at a local park. I was particularly excited about the first hat that we took photos of because it was a colorway that I have only had the chance to make once before and I have decided to name the colorway "Woodland Witch".
When I received the order for this hat the customer included a note that he wanted me to make the hat extra-special because "it is for a girl." I did add bunches of extra magic, so maybe that's why when I posted a few photos of the hat on my Facebook page she saw the photos and posted how much she loved her hat! She put it on and even posted a picture of herself wearing it. I hope all my hats have such happy stories! (Click here to see the Facebook post and her reaction.)
Hat 2: "Classic Witch" Hat
The second hat that we took photos of was a classic witch hat that I had left over from Halloween. I particularly loved how the curve of this hat came out. When we looked through our photos later that day it was a pleasant surprise to see how the arc of the hat matched the arc of the tree I was standing under.
While it was fun to take these photos and get them all ready to put up online it has only made me even more impatient for springtime. As soon as things warm up again I will definitely be outside taking photos of all the hats I have been working on and waiting to show off.
Come on sunshine! I am so ready!