Welcome back to my miniseries of posts called "Design Deep Dive," where I explain some of the inspirations and ideas behind my favorite hat designs. Last week I began this series by writing about one of my favorite hats of all, the tattered brim side-curl hat. This week I will be tackling something a little less complicated but still very important to me because it was my very first witch / wizard hat design. It is called the "short-tail" witch / wizard hat. There's lots of history with this design, but I will try and keep it brief.
It wasn't long after I learned how to wet felt that I started thinking about making hats. Things really got going when I found affordable plastic hat shapers (which had the added bonus of being water proof, which is really important when it comes to wet felting). But my earliest hats were all pretty normal as far as hats go. I tried to make them subtle, focusing on color choice and just a few embellishments. With time I started to add more structural elements, like folds and curls, but overall the designs remained simple.
In general though I just wasn't satisfied. I liked my hats. I enjoyed making them and I thought the designs worked well. They just weren't memorable. They weren't hats I would want to build an outfit around, or necessarily take out to a special event. They weren't eye catching enough.
Fantasy has always been a big part of my life (as I've already written about), but at this time in my life I was really relying on fantasy audiobooks and games to help me cope. Based on all that fantasy that I was ingesting I finally decided to try a more fantasy-inspired hat design rather than something plain. This was riskier for me than it sounds because at the time I was also living in a community that generally frowns on "witches" and fantasy stuff. You can even see some of my reservation in my original design. The tail is small and easily explained away if I encountered anyone who I knew would give me some trouble for a witchy hat design.
That original design was based on the classic conical witch and wizard hat. You probably know the kind I mean. It has a very triangular shape, with a point at the top, like the Wicked Witch of the West. I added the ridges though to make it look more like a wizard's hat which is usually more slumped over and worn out. I wanted it to look more organic, like it was collapsing a bit, but still structured and pretty.
If you have been to my shop anytime in the last couple of years you may have noticed that my witch and wizard hats have changed quite a bit since that first hat I made six years ago. What really fueled that change was the positive feedback I received early on. People online, and even in the conservative community I was living in, told me how interesting the hat looked. They started selling right away. Because of that I felt more confident with each hat I made, increasing the tail a little bit and a little bit more, slowly inching towards the big colorful fantasy witch and wizard hat design I had always wanted to make.
Recently though I have been receiving lots of requests for me to bring back some hats in my older styles, especially hats with shorter tails and less rounded ridges. I completely understand some people's desires for smaller hats. They are more manageable, easier to care for, and not too overwhelming if you have a certain costume in mind. Some have said they are a more realistic fantasy hat design, while still being artistic too. As a result I've decided to start bringing back some of my older styles. They will be featured all through the month of August, and it is my hope to have some brand new photos of my short-tail hats soon.
So that's it! That's my brief journey through the design work of my original "short-tail" hat. Is there a particular hat design you would like me to write about for a future Design Deep Dive post? Just leave a comment here or on my Facebook #FridayReads post letting me know which hat you're interested in and why. Chances are I will take your advice and write about it soon!