Search This Blog

Monday, September 14, 2009

It IS!

Chapeau de Peche??
Well, my mystery project has finally agreed to come into being and not one second too soon, as I need to take it to the Upper Midwest Bead Society twentieth anniversary tea this weekend, Sunday, September 20th. Diane Fitzgerald is our Founding Mother, and we have been encouraged to "wear our Sunday Best embellished bonnet" with a prize for "Best in Show."
Now, I am NOT a hat girl. I do not have a hat face, and I have Obama ears. No hat has ever looked nice on me. SO I decided right off not to participate in this portion of the event. Then I changed my mind. Why not make a beaded hat? One might not necessarily be required to wear such a thing, and it would still be a means to participate. At first I thought it would be a beaded straw boater, but once I finished what I thought would be the hat band, I decided the weight of the beads would make this idea structurally nearly impossible with out using a stiffening agent, and I didn't want to "cheat" in that way.

All those Costume History classes took me to medieval chapel cap images, and chain maille helmets, but I wanted a more recent reference, so turned to the 1920's when beading and bead embellishment were commonplace. A beaded cloche, a bell-shaped, closely fitting, flapper style hat seemed a great solution and had a wonderful shaping challenge. I wanted the hat to be soft and adaptable to varied head shapes, so netting seemed an appropriate technique. Cloche hats frequently have a button at their top most point and I referenced that with a bit of circular peyote and then charged into the mathematics of creating a bell shaped piece of work that would connect to a 314 bead row band on one end and a 48 bead row circle on the other.

And as I worked on the band, the phrase "peau de peche" popped into my head. Ridiculous for a dressmaker not to have taken French, but I have not, and so I THINK it means "skin of peach," which the hat band resembles. Once it was a cloche, (cloche being yet another French word) then "chapeau" floated into my brain as well. So I think the piece is "Chapeau de Peche."

I am really pleased with the structure and the final product, but less so with the surface embellishment I have done. I may or may not change it for the event, as time is short. But I think I may come back to it one day. My initial thought was passimentary style fabric embellishment, and I made two flowers in that style, but found I could not do the sort of freestyle scrollwork to go with them that is usually passimentary, due to the density of the band and limited choices about where my needle could enter and exit, so I made a couple fabric flowers, bead embellished them and stitched them on. Sadly, this too was not a process I was comfortable with. Usually I pin components on and re-arrange and adjust until I like the results, but pinning on beadwork is not so easy to do, so I finally just started and added, but the result for me is a bit lumpy and undefined... DRAT. I also meant to keep the project monochromatic, but now have stitched and laid on a quick sample leaf in pale green beads and maybe that will be a good solution to my less-than-perfect arrangement. Anybody have any thoughts? Shall I ditch the fabric and use all beads? Introduce more color?


  1. WOW! What a job! It's a very feminine hat.

    I would agree with you on those flowers, though. Perhaps, it would look better with beaded ones instead of these that are made of fabric?
    Just a though :)

    The hat itself is LOVELY though!

  2. Thanks Foxan! I asked for comments and appreciate all constructive criticism. I know what I have is not the right thing, and was feeling comfortable enough to say so, so feel free to speak your thoughts. All you EBW's are so KIND! And thank you roo RoseWorks... it's Ruthie, right?

  3. Wow!! I think the whole thing is spectacular!! What a lot of work! Thank you for sharing!!

  4. I love it the way it is! Great, creative work! Much talent!

    What about combining fabric with beads? Pale/lime greens would work, maybe pearls...

    YOU are the one that would have to be happy with the result, we can only give you some suggestions.

  5. It's beautiful, but I agree about the embellishment. As much as I love playing with lots of color, I think you should lose the bright pink and move to somethings that play up more subtle pear (and dyed pearl) colors.

    I love this headpiece. It is indeed very 1920s, especially the early 20s with Theda Bera headpieces and suchlike.

    What an amazing amount of work you put into it. What was that thing you used as a form?


  6. wow, it looks like a lot of work. Sorry, not experienced enough to give advice, but I want to encourage you, you've done well. I am a follower now. Lovies

  7. Thanks Patricia and Trinity! It's a hat block, which I used when I hooked hair and made wigs for theater. Has a hole inside it and can be stuck to a clamp thingy, so it can be adjusted to different angles. Probably ungodly expensive these days. I've had it for 25 years at least. Came in handy here!

  8. It is a most beautiful hat. I like the mix medium using fabric flowers. I would love to wear a beaded hat like that. Gorgeous!!

  9. I'm in awe! To me it looks like a finished piece. Can't think of what can be added or removed from it, but I'm sure if you foloow your instincts you'd figure out what you want it to look like in the end. It's your 'baby' you'd know when you get it 'right'. Well done!

  10. Love the hat!! Can't wait to see it on a real head!!!!

  11. Not only is it a beautiful hat, I'm in awe of the work that went into it!

  12. It is stunning! Your work is inspiring!