A Gothic Hat

Travel inspires my work.

This is my singular inspiration from my trip to Spain a few years back. You might spot it in in my ads supporting KNKX Radio in October, during their Fall Fund Drive.

This hat is patterned after the Cloister of St. John the King in Toledo. It took about 6 years to bring this hat from drawing board to finished piece, and hours of experimentation to translate the arches not only into textile, but into a commercially viable piece of wearable art.

The base of this hat is reclaimed black wool. The arches are ultrasuede that I gleaned from a thrift store skirt, which I then applied to the hat as padded applique in order to give some additional dimension. The architectural detailing is hand embroidered, and the hat is finished in mink rescued from a vintage coat. You can see it in person at the gallery shop at Brookfield Craft Center, or order one from my custom order catalog.

The Making of Raven Steals The Sun

My trip to Alaska in 2008 was my first solo adventure. I went to see glaciers, totem poles and to get over my fear of flying so I could get to Europe the following year.

While I was there, one of the recurring images I saw on totem poles and jewelry was a bird with a disc in its mouth, a depiction of a First People’s tale called “Raven Steals The Sun.”

The story has several variants, but they all tell of a world of darkness, and of a chieftain who had three cedar treasure boxes containing the Sun, Moon and Stars. The trickster Raven, learning of the treasures and wanting to bring and end to the eternal darkness, shape-shifted into a child who begged to play with the boxes. Once they were in his hands, he turned himself back into a Raven, and taking the treasure boxes, flew up through the smoke hole of the chieftain’s longhouse and high up into the sky. The contents of the boxes spilled out, dividing the darkness into night and day, and bringing light into the human world.

My first full-bird hat – the Raven King – gave me enough confidence to try other dimensional pieces. The Firebird followed, and then the Crow King – my entry in The Met 500 Design Contest (in August 2019).

This new Raven came together pretty quickly, but the Sun proved problematic. Every time I tried to alter a Haida design (shown here) I ended up with a Sun that looked more like flower.

A friend handed me a rubber stamp that leaned towards Gothic, and after several hours of searching the internet for designs to meld with the rubber stamp, my hat took a turn in an entirely unexpected direction.

I liked the ‘tribal gothic’ sun so much that I decided to do all the applique in black leather (which I had stripped off a couch that was destined for the dump). Once I had the Sun in place, Raven decided it would emerge from the cuff, with its wings wrapping around the Sun, catching one of the Sun’s flares in its beak. I stylized the feather detail, to keep the focus on the Raven’s face. The cuff is a herringbone-patterned wool which mimics the chevrons of my embroidery on the wings.

And now I have a hat inspired by my first trip to Alaska, based on a First People’s legend, but with a distinctively Gothic twist. You can order one of your very own here!

Paying it Forward

Those who follow me here, know that philanthropic efforts play a significant part in my company’s mission, especially when I can pay it forward (or pay it back) to organizations in my own community.

Starting in August, my efforts have been in support of KNKX Radio, the best source of Jazz, Blues and NPR News in Seattle. The station keeps me entertained and informed, and many a hat has been made with jazz and news floating around in the background.

You may have heard my radio spots on your drive home mid-week in August. For the next three months, you’ll also see one of my most recent works – “Raven Steals the Sun” as an ad rotating through the KNKX website.


I’d like to thank Katie Cordrey for designing my ads, and Katie Morgan at KNKX for working with me to make this sponsorship happen!

If I was a Newsletter – – –

I resolve one technical issue, only to have another replace it. Today’s snag is an inability to distribute a newsletter. So, If I Was A Newsletter, this is What I Would Say…

August is Customer Appreciation Month!  If you have purchased a hat from me over the last two years, I’m sending you a free tote bag as a thank you! If you don’t receive yours by the end of August, or would simply like to request one, please send your mailing address. These tote bags replace the plastic bags I’ve been shipping my hats in , in my continued efforts to be a more eco-friendly artisan.

After a long and laborious summer, this website and the online store are now fully functional. You will find my reconstructed research papers, tutorials and travel journals, as well as my Custom Hat Catalog in an easier to navigate format that is also mobile phone friendly.  I have added some new hat styles to my Custom Catalog, including a Gothic version of “Raven Steals the Sun” which you can scroll down to read about.  I’m also currently a proud supporter of KNKX Radio (my local NPR affiliate).  Listen for my radio spots from 3 – 8 PM over the next few weeks, and look for my ad on their website starting in September.  

I appreciate your patronage and continued support of my work.  Let me know what you think! I welcome constructive feedback on this website, your ideas for new hats you’d like to see in my catalog, and galleries you’d like to find them in. Drop me a line at hats@augustphoenixhats.com.