labricoleuse: (mee)
Many of you have contacted me with great feedback/interest/enthusiasm (here or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) about the research and exploration my students and I have been conducting with respect to the esparterie acquisition our graduate program and resident theatre lucked into. I'm so thrilled to report that three of my students this past semester elected to take the techniques learned in the esparterie workshop and produce a completed hat with a willow foundation for their final projects!





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This lovely hat is by second year grad Michelle Bentley. The overbrim is the exposed esparto grass side of the esparterie, and the underbrim is covered in a coral and cream brocade. The ornaments are hand-shaped sinamay in a natural color to match the esparterie.

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This image shows a few process shots: The block covered in foil (top left), the esparterie roped onto it (top right), the esparterie removed from the block before trimming (bottom left), and a closeup of the trimmed edge (bottom right). Note that when an edge is cut down, the milliner cuts the esparto layer on the edge line, but leaves a seam allowance of about 1/2" on the crinoline layer. Here's why...
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Then that crinoline can function as French elastic in covering the wired edge! Strong, smooth, and delicate all at once!


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Four views of an esparterie hat by first year grad Danielle Soldat. The crown was blocked on a vintage block, and the brim free-formed in the hand. The hat is covered in a slubby peach gauze on the underbrim and crown, and a pleated organza for the overbrim. Three little vintage velvet flowers finish it off.


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This is the sharpened-crayon-shaped crown block Danielle used for her hat.


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These are several views of the free-form esparterie hat by Playmakers Repertory Company wardrobe supervisor Ana Walton. The cover fabrics are a copper/black velvet on the top and a black lurex piled fabric on the underside. The hat is trimmed with a pheasant feather and a shaped crow feather


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This was the hat back when it was just a piece of willow shaped in the hand, pinned out on a block and supported with curling rods.


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Back view of same.

Fantastic work! Still more to come from our final projects though... :D
labricoleuse: (frippery)
It's going to take me several posts to get through the final projects of this semester's millinery students. Today I'm just going to feature images from that of Kim Fraser, a local milliner and continuing education student who will be an artist in residence at Penland School of Craft in January where she will be working on a collection of hat designs.

For most students who are learning theatrical millinery, the final project is intended to be a capstone of the semester, in which they might further explore a technique or medium, or tackle something more challenging than prior projects. A particular period shape might be the inspiration, or something fantastical they've seen in a research archive or on Pinterest.

As a comtemporary fashion milliner, Kim pitched me the idea that she would use the final project to focus on the concept of wool and fur felt scrap as a high-end trim medium. She conducted a lot of visual research in both print and digital archives, and also spent a couple days going through our historical hat collection on-site at the department of dramatic art.

Below, please enjoy a whole host of photos of Kim's decor experiments!

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All of these are pinned in place on a beautiful black velour vintage Adolfo hat from our collection.


Which is your favorite?
I love the possibilities of the felt loops of "coiffure" trim hanging down from the headsize opening on the bottom left!

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I switched to a grey melousine felt Breton style for these darker ornaments.


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Those top two are a huge two-layer felt "feather" with a wire shaft.
The bottom right is a felt "ribbon candy" strip skewered on a dyed and stripped shaft of an ostrich plume


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This little hat is made of freeform industrial felt and some wool fiber spheres Kim felted. Cute!
labricoleuse: (design)
I really fell behind in terms of sharing the projects presented by my graduate level millinery students here in the MFA program at UNC. However, now that the semester has ended, i have time to catch up!

This set of projects i'm focusing on today is the fourth project of the semester, which falls after we've covered a whole range of different media and methods for the making of millinery (yes, that's some major alliteration, i know). Basically, in theatre, milliners are occasionally asked to create headdresses or hats which mimic the hairstyles of a given period. Sometimes these creations are very natural looking with actual hair involved, but sometimes they are extremely stylized and conceptual. This is the task i set to my students for this project: to create an interpretation of a hairstyle using millinery techniques. Take a look at what they came up with!


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Metallic wig-hats were an actual fad in the 1920s! Second year grad Robin Ankerich created this stylish silvertone number with various metallic fabrics/fibers, tubular horsehair braid, and a bandeau of antique sequinned fabric!

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Continuing education milliner Kim Fraser used wire frames and a hemp braid of the type one normally uses in a stitched-spiral hat structure to create this fun beenhive!

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Second year grad Michelle Bentley created this old-school judge's wig from Jumbo Braid, tubular horsehair, and a nylon mesh.

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Continuing education milliner Athene Wright created this interpretation of a traditional Qing Dynasty headdress using buckram, wire, felt, Jumbo Braid, acrylic, and various decor.

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Second year grad Erin Torkelson created both of these fun drag wigs from lime-green neoprene foam.

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First year grad Danielle Soldat created this flame-goddess-inspired updo from metallic floral ribbon and wire.

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Playmakers Repertory Company Wardrobe Supervisor Ana Walton created this fantastic style with, no lie, craft felt and tissue paper. And a feather.

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Back view

Such great work, no? Yet to come: final projects....
labricoleuse: (frippery)
I've fallen a bit behind on sharing my students' projects from this semester, but i'm slowly getting back on track! Here are some pix of their wire-frame projects, presented a while ago.


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Velvet wire-frame fascinator strung with peacock-colored silk floss
by PlayMakers Repertory Company wardrobe supervisor Ana Walton
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Tulle, vintage lace, and feather headdress by continuing education student Kim Fraser

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1920s beaded lace and net headpiece by first year grad Danielle Soldat

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Drawn bonnet after a design by Madame Sheeta, by second year grad Erin Torkelson

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"Barbed wire" crown inspired by a sculptural piece found on Pinterest, by second year grad Michelle Bentley


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Lace, tulle, and floral beaded headdress by first year grad Sam Reckford
labricoleuse: (mee)
Recall, if you will, the incredible acquisition of a large quantity of vintage esparterie by our department, in what i refer to as the Madame Sheeta Legacy.

Yesterday, I conducted the first workshop with Sheeta's esparterie, with our seven costume production graduate students, two continuing-education students enrolled in my millinery class, and two costume staff members of PlayMakers Repertory Company. I'll be writing up several posts concerning the topics we covered, but i'd like to start with a few photographs from the section of the workshop in which we explored techniques of forming esparterie in the hand.

Esparterie, for those unfamiliar with the word, is a generic term for a two-ply millinery material comprised of one layer of straw and one layer of lightweight fine-weave cotton, starched together. The esparterie we acquired from the estate of Madame Sheeta is vintage stock, produced in Europe in the early to mid-20th century, probably some time around 1940. In this esparterie, the straw layer is made from esparto, a grass which grows primarily in southern Spain and northern Africa. To my knowledge, this esparterie is no longer manufactured.

Esparterie is returning to the marketplace of millinery materials, largely driven by the Australian industry. Several Aussie vendors sell what is often called "nouveau esparterie," which is of Japanese manufacture. Japan has long produced a variety of esparterie in a tradition going back to the early 20th century, with the straw layer comprised of toyo straw (strands of twisted paper, woven into a cloth). I have three sheets of the mid-century vintage Japanese esparterie, and for the purposes of this workshop, i purchased a meter of the new stuff coming out of Australia as well, so that we might compare all three.

The burning question on my mind, prior to my acquisition of the esparto-composite stock from Madame Sheeta's atelier, was this:

How does/did European esparterie differ from Japanese esparterie?

After all, the surviving resources which mention the material were all written during or just after WW2, and I always wondered whether British milliners' disdain for the Japanese product was due to bigotry against the Japanese, as opposed to any appreciable difference in the product itself. Now, i know the answer! The toyo straw behaves differently than the esparto when forming the material. The toyo is a bit more "wiggly" and more inclined to droop, while the esparto retains more of a uniform surface topography across complex curves.

I hesitate to make a value judgement about it--i would not consider one type superior to the other. The case is simply that they behave slightly differently when worked with, and both types have their pros and cons and fiddly qualities. Here's a visual:




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Left: European esparterie, esparto layer facing up
Right: Japanese esparterie, toyo layer facing up
In one section of the workshop, we experimented with the processes of forming esparterie in the hand. This is kind of like free-form blocking of felt or sinamay, in that you activate the material (in this case by misting the straw side of the esparterie with water) and then just...fiddling around with it on a block.

Check out some of the structures the students produced!


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This little fascinatory thing was made by PlayMakers costume stock supervisor Alex Ruba. The discoloration on the top edges is from the age of the esparto.

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Fun bandeau-bow shape by second year grad student Robin Ankerich

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Sweet little perch shape by continuing education student Kim Fraser

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This creation is by PlayMakers wardrobe supervisor Ana Walton.
Those are foam curling rods for wig/hair styling supporting the flutes of the shape while it dries.

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Side view of Ana's piece which shows the curlers better.

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Back view, and more curler details.

Pretty excited about the way this first workshop went! Seems like everyone learned a lot, including me. I'll be posting more soon about the other parts of the workshop and what else we covered in terms of the use of this material.
labricoleuse: (mee)
Millinery class has just presented their second round of projects. Here's a photographic survey of what they created!




Hat at left by second year grad student Erin Torkelson, wool felt with felt flower spray.
Hat at center back by continuing education student Kim Fraser, wool felt with burnt ostrich spray.
Both created on the puzzle block in foreground.


Hat at center back by continuing education student Athene Wright wool felt with velvet and grosgrain trim.
Hat at right by first year grad student Danielle Soldat, wool felt with felt flower and velvet bands.
Both created on the puzzle block in left foreground.


Fur felt trimmed in silver mink by second year grad Michelle Bentley, blocked on the puzzle block shown.


Fur felt bowler with embossed velvet band by first year grad Sam Reckford.


Free-form hand-draped wool felt projects!
At left, by Playmakers Repertory Company wardrobe supervisor Ana Walton;
at right, by second year grad Robin Ankerich.

Beautiful work, y'all! Next up: wire frame projects...

You can also follow along in real-time on Instagram.
labricoleuse: (frippery)
My millinery class recently presented their first round of projects, buckram hat shapes. Here is a selection of a few representative projects...




Clockwise from top left: 1920 buckram sun hat by second year grad Robin Ankerich
Top right: spiral straw on a buckram foundation trimmed in hand-dyed sinamay by continuing education milliner Kim Fraser
Bottom right: 1880s perch topper by second year grad Michelle Bentley
Bottom left: 1940s shape by first year grad Danielle Soldat



Left: pillbox by first year grad Danielle Soldat
Center: pillbox by second year grad Erin Torkelson
Right: pillbox by second year grad Michelle Bentley


Top: fascinator by first year grad Danielle Soldat
Bottom left: fascinator by second year grad Michelle Bentley
Bottom right: fascinator by second year grad Robin Ankerich



Origami crane fascinator by first year grad Samantha Reckford


Complex buckram shape in velvet by second year grad Erin Torkelson,
after the midcentury design below from the estate of renowned West End theatrical milliner Madame Sheeta



Great stuff, amirite? On to blocking projects next! Follow me on Instagram, too!
labricoleuse: (top hats!)
The semester has ended and my millinery students presented their final projects last week. Fun stuff, including sinamay, goddesses of doom, and roadkill. (Really!)


Read more... )
labricoleuse: (frippery)
My millinery class has presented a couple of projects since i last shared photos, so this'll be a mishmash of excellent zaniness. They do a project involving wire-frame structures, and they do a project in which they create a hat/headdress with a historical or fantastical hairstyle for inspiration (basically, solving hair design issues with hatmaking techniques). So, here we go:


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PRC Costume Technician Sam Kate Toney made this fantastic drag-inspired wig from foam and silk flowers.
And then i wore it to a Halloween party thrown by photographer Ryan A. S. Jones of Rytography,
which is why Sam got this fab "stage shot" of her project!
Photo credit: Rytography


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Undergraduate senior Alex Ruba made this Ariel-inspired mermaid wig from synthetic dreadlocks,
a buckram cap, and a bunch of actual tidewrack/seashells.


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Another view of Alex's wig


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First-year grad Max Alenson Hilsabeck created this Medusa-inspired wig/headdress from tubular horsehair and rubber snakes, mounted on a Fosshape cap.

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First-year grad Emily Plonski created this bugle-beaded headdress inspired by the hairstyle of Josephine Baker.

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Side view of Emily's piece.

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Rear view of Emily's piece. I love how the bugle beads make this shine like actual marcelled hair!

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Second-year grad Katie Keener created this wire-frame reproduction of a 1910s lace-brim summer hat.
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First-year grad Max Alenson Hilsabeck created this wire-frame tiara-inspired ballet headpiece.

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Side view of Max's piece.


Great work, ladies!
labricoleuse: (design)
Millinery class presented blocked hat projects today, all felts of various styles, all super-fabulous!

Check them out...

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
This semester, i'm teaching my graduate level millinery class, and today my students presented their first round of projects--buckram forms!

Here are some of the highlights... (plus also a bonus pair of super-awesome Alexander McQueen-inspired platform shoes!)

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
My newest-minted batch of milliners has just presented their final round of projects, and i can't deal with how awesome they are.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (top hats!)
We're almost done with the semester and my millinery graduate students have presented a few more of their projects, including two more drawn bonnets. Check out these cool hats!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (frippery)
Second-year Candy McClernan came to the program with extensive millinery experience already, so she has spent this semester doing an independent study of "Millinery II" topics--things outside the realm of my typical millinery class. Here are some iamges of pieces of trim she created for a project in which she researched and practiced traditional featherwork techniques. Read more... )
labricoleuse: (Default)
I neglected to post these images of two more wig projects from my millinery class, but i think they are worth the wait!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (milliner)
My millinery students presented wire-frame projects this past week, and i have a few photos to share.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
My millinery class presented their third round of projects today, of which i have three images to share: a Muppet wig, a steampunk-dreadlock creation, and a commodore dog hat. The premise of the project is to address a costume element which relates to hair, but which in theatre would not be solved by traditional wigmaking. Students use millinery principles and craftwork techniques to create a wearable object.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (frippery)
Second-year graduate student Candy McClernan already took my graduate millinery class some years ago, before applying to the program. Now that she's an enrolled graduate student, rather than just coast through a semester having already earned that credit, she decided to do a devised independent study: "Millinery II," if you will.

She has been working on several exciting projects as part of her research, and recently completed one of the topics on her list: replicating a vintage hat block by casting it in Foam-It 5, a two-part rigid foam.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (milliner)
My millinery students presented blocked hats this morning, and wow! They did some great work!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (frippery)
Two more quick pix of some of my students' buckram hat projects.

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Buckram hat in Chinese brocade after a Buddhist school hat, by second year Leah Pelz

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Buckram hat trimmed in silk shantung, ostrich plumes, and fox tails after a hat
from the film The Duchess (2008), by first-year grad Denise Dreher

December 2016

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