The Hatter’s Decameron, Day 25: Completed my 100th linen mask last night. Production stopped at the next mask when my sewing machine needle had an unfortunate encounter with a finger …
Hatmaking in the time of COVID19 is not what I expected it to be. I have been self-sequestered since March 10, 2020 and expected to use the time to focus on making hats. But after shipping the Purple Phoenix hat (detailed in my previous post), that focus completely dissipated. Instead of creating, I spent my time monitoring the never-ending news, and sleeping and eating between periods of anxiety and anger. Of those news reports, the shortages of PPEs (personal protective equipment) for health care workers – especially masks – made me especially angry.
Anger is a useless state of being, unless you can transform it into motivation.
So on March 24, I set my hat business aside, and joined the army of home sewers and small businesses who are now channelling their resources into making cloth masks.
As with my hats, my masks are made from recycled textiles. For several years, Historic Enterprises had sent their cutting room scraps to me instead of their local landfill. I’m now working my way through my “linen closet,” pulling the softest remnants from those boxes of scrap, sorted by color, and cutting out masks, 1-2 panels at a time.
I quickly worked my way through my entire stash of ribbons, soutache cords and elastic, and am now making ties from 2-3 yards of linen that was printed in a grid, but off-grain. It was useless for hats, but perfect for handmade bias tape.
The customer who had purchased my last hat, turned out to be the director of a non-profit in the Stanwood/Camano area of Washington State, and asked if I could make 450 cloth masks as part of their current efforts. I have shipped 80 masks to that organization so far. The rest of my masks have gone to friends and family, and the staff at my local UPS Store, who received my 100th mask. I am now well into my second set of 100 masks…
My work on this project is pro-bono, as I refuse to profit from a pandemic and I have other sources of income. If you are looking for masks for you or your family, there are several makers who can be found via a Google search. If they are charging a fee, it’s because they have families to support. If a maker gives you masks for free, please consider paying it forward by making a donation to a food bank.
I received a commission late last year from a customer (whom I shall call Lady C), for a phoenix hat in purples and blues – the first of its kind in this color scheme, as up to this point I have only made this style in shades of red. After months of delay, this hat finally took flight and shipped out today.
Set against a deep purple wool background, this phoenix is crafted in a deep blue wool, which I padded for some added dimension. The wings are lavender leather and blue wool applique, held in place with navy yarn and silver cord. It has a cobalt glass beady eye : ) The hat is cuffed with a chocolate brown karakul, and has lavender linen lining and a silver-tone button at top. All materials in this hat are reclaimed except for the sewing thread and the silver cord.
Because this was “not the customary” custom order, I sent progress shots to Lady C to make sure my work was meeting her vision and expectations.
This hat has a beautiful and mystical back story …
A phoenix presented itself to Lady C in a dream, and when she said: “what is your name?” the phoenix replied: “rue de attar”. When Lady C returned from her dream, she googled the name and discovered a 13th century Persian Muslim poet – Farid Ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur.
Rumi, another 13th century Sufi poet, referred to Sheikh Attar as ‘the spirit’ and himself as ‘its shadow’, saying “Attar traveled through all the seven cities of love, while I am only at the bend of the first alley”.
Attar’s work, The Conference of the Birds is a poem he based on a passage from the Qur’an, where two men are said to have been taught the language of the birds. It is considered a significant work of Sufi literature. The work reminded me of the story of the Crow King and his Ministers from the Khalila wa Dimna – a 14th century Arabic fable that inspired my Three Crows Cap. So I was thrilled to bring yet another bird from literary legend to wearable art piece.
Thank you Lady C! I hope your new hat brings you more happy dreams and enlightening journeys …
These are among the caps shipping out this week to Nature’s Kitchen – an organic bakery and gift shop in Yreka, CA. These are all hand sewn and crafted from recycled wools and found objects. (The tiger faux-fur is the only new textile in this grouping).
This trio of custom orders is for one of my collectors and is also scheduled to ship out this week. I hope you like them, Charlie : )
I’m still recovering from the killer cold I’ve had since January 5, but am back in the shop, catching up …