2016: What a Year for Imogen’s Imagination!

Gliiter Cat Ears Wedding day

It’s fair to say that this year has been a bit of a belter!

I am so honoured to have been asked to be involved in so many amazing projects and here’s a little round up of this year’s highlights. There have been so many other super exciting things that have happened too…but these are the biggest ones!

A good chunk of the amazing things that have happened this year have been directly as a result of the enormous efforts of the Year of Making team.  This city-wide and discipline-wide celebration of creativity and making in Sheffield has been utterly invaluable to the successes that I have had this year.  Every project I have been involved during this year has been supported by the team and I owe them a HUGE debt of gratitude.  Thank you to all of you, but most especially Tamar Millen, you are a total wonder woman!

 

So, 2016, what happened?

Hat Stand Photo ShootHigh Sheriff South Yorkshire 2016-17 January kicked off with a promotional photo shoot for the upcoming Hat Stand collaboration with the glorious Ellie Grace Photography. I was also commissioned to make the official hat of Dr Julie MacDonald, the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire.

 

 

 

Gliiter Cat Ears Wedding dayFebruary saw the launch of a new look website after a design overhaul and THE best bridal commission ever!

I had so much fun making these glittery cat ears for Laura and I will be playing with this idea next year!

Image: Ellie Grace Photography

 

 

 

Springing in Spring…

Etsy Made Local LogoMarch was all about the planning stages of the Sheffield Sellers on Etsy team project: Etsy Made Local.

We had been tasked by Etsy, as the team leadership, to organise a Christmas Market during the first weekend of December…no small feat for a bunch of first timers!

Cue much discussion about the how we were going to organise this mammoth task and how we were going to pay for it!

 

 

The Hat Stand Sheffield logoApril, May and June were all about Operation Hat Stand.

We kicked off in April with our first craft market, swiftly followed by another one in May.  We also managed, between the three of us, to lead a hugely successful facinator workshop for over 70 members of the Seven Hills WI!  You can check out the images here thanks to SHWI’er Laura’s fab photography skills…we were too busy to breathe, let alone document the evening!

 

 

The Hat Stand Launch Party-June 2016We set up shop in the Winter Garden pop-up space on 2nd June and there we stayed until the end of the month.  This was our first time running the shop for a whole month…and it was our best year to date!  We have booked our spot for June 2017, but that’s all I can tell you so far!

We were very honoured to have not only Dr Julie MacDonald, the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire join us for our launch party, but also The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Denise Fox, 120th Lord Mayor of the City of Sheffield.

This project wouldn’t have been a thing for the last 3 years, and wouldn’t continue to happen, with out the on-going commitment (all year round!) from my colleagues Amanda (Amanda Moon Headwear) and Siobhan (Siobhan Nicholson Millinery). Thank you!

I love our girl gang and am so excited about planning the 2017 pop-up shop.

 

 

A Sweltering Summer…

Hats designed by school childrenI say June was all about Operation Hat Stand….mostly!

In June I had to beat the fear and deliver a demonstration day to some very discerning customers.

I was asked invited to Oasis Watermead Academy to inspire their pupils ahead of their end of year school picnic, when, inspired by the Queen’s Birthday garden parties they would all be making their own hats to wear.

Yes, I did get to meet almost every child in the school that day! It was a huge amount of fun though and I was given the most amazing design ideas to take away for my own inspiration.

 

Made in Sheffield Exhibtion 2016July was a bit of a rollercoaster month.  I’d spent the first 6 months of the year thinking “once Hat Stand is out of the way, I’ll do…..” How wrong was I?

I’d  spent every spare moment of June making a brand new design for the acclaimed Made In Sheffield exhibition at Millenium Gallery which closes on 8th January 2017.

I didn’t make things easy for myself, but my collaboration with my Exchange Place Studios neighbour, Giles Grover of Small Machines created so many opportunities in the months to come I was completely blown away!

 

 

Rain Rescue Charity Calendar 2017

I was also invited to contribute to the Rain Rescue Charity Calendar by photographer Shelley Richmond.

The end results are completely stunning with doggies in top hats and floral crowns donated by myself and Campbell Flowers.

If you don’t have a calendar for next year yet, I urge you to get this one!  You can find it in the Rain Rescue shop here

 

 

HATalk Front Cover- Imogen's ImaginationIn August, I was absolutely thrilled and stunned to receive my edition of HaTalk Magazine, an online publication for milliners across the world, as my hat was on the front cover!

The Hat Stand was the subject of a featured article and included photos from our shoot day with Ellie Grace Photography. A huge thank you to Niamh at Gypsy Rose Salon, MUA Izzy Grace and model Megan, for making my hats look stunning!

You can read more about the feature over on the Hat Stand blog here.

 

 

Autumn into Winter was a bit of a blur…

I’ll be honest, September was a pretty scary month with a huge first to be overcome.

It started off with another unexpected front cover feature, again from HaTalk Magazine, but this time I was on my own as the prestigious Hat of the Month feature all about my exhibition hat.

I then re-convened with my Hat Stand colleagues to take part in the Meet the Maker series of demonstration sessions, held inside the Made In Sheffield exhibition at Millenium Gallery.  Good job I’d beaten my demonstrating nerves earlier in summer!

The final challenge of the month was a public speaking engagement…not nervewracking at all!  However, I wasn’t on my own, I was invited along with my collaborator Giles Grover of Small Machines to talk about our experience of making the exhibition hat as part of the Year of Making showcases at the Festival of the Mind.  As the talk was to be held in a Spiegeltent, possibly the most opulent temporary structure I have ever had the pleasure to be in, it was an opportunity not to be missed!

 

 

October. This may surprise you, things went a little bit quiet!

 

Well, technically, thats not true as I was frantically trying to get ahead with all the planning that we, the team leaders of Sheffield Sellers on Etsy were doing for the Etsy Made Local market….and boy, was there a lot of admin to do!

I also had a couple of vintage fairs, including my first one in the West Midlands for over four years…I did sneak in a visit home and a sort of weekend off for that one!

 

Fast forward to November.

 

Having one hat in an exhibition was something I never in my wildest dreams imagined would ever happen…let alone two!!!  Thanks to yet another Year of Making opportunity, I was invited to create another unique piece for the Woven exhibition at the Makers Gallery.

The invitation to take part in this exhibition was even more special as it was curated by the one and only Tokyo Jo. I have been a long-standing admirer of Jo’s work for nearly a decade and it’s fair to say I had to reign in the fan-girl response when she got in touch!

 

 

There can’t be anyone in Sheffield who has never heard of the Crucible Theatre, in fact, I think you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who has never heard of The Crucible, full stop.  As the home of snooker, and Sheffield institution, I had no fear when I was invited by Year of Making to take part in their showcase of projects that had taken place during the 2016.

And when I say this, naturally, I am lying through my teeth…I was VERY nervous!

Again, my fears were unfounded. I was joined on stage with the ever cheerful and encouraging Nick Wright of Ernest Wright & Son Ltd, scissor makers extraordinaire.

 

 

 

Imogen's Imagination at Exchange Place StudiosI knew that Yorkshire Artspace Open Studios was going to happen, but I was pretty frazzled by that point.

However, I threw open my studio door at Exchange Place Studios to the public to give them an insight into what happens behind the scenes in a creative cave…once I’d had a serious tidy up that was!

I was incredibly relieved to meet some people during the course of the weekend who had been at The Crucible earlier in the week and they were all very kind in their praise about my delivery and content of the conversation I had with Nick….phew!

 

 

And then suddenly it was December!

The first weekend of the month was the climax, culmination, pinnacle (all those words!) of over eight months planning with my fellow Sheffield Sellers on Etsy team members. Etsy Made Local was live!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow team leaders Rob (Sheffield Mug Co), Donna (Charley & Billie) and Jayne (Maxwell Harrison Jewellery) for their tireless commitment, support, enthusiasm and downright hardwork in the run up to the event, during and after.
Oh, and thanks for putting up with my coping strategy of wine at every opportunity!

We had a preview evening, an art installation, over 54 stallholders and 2 full days of trading during the weekend….we pulled out all the stops for this. You can find the official photos from the Preview Evening on our Facebook page

I’ll be the first to admit I look somewhat delirious in this photo, and the jury is still out as to whether that was due to exhaustion, relief or happiness at how well the event turned out.  With an estimated 4-5k people through the door over the weekend, it surpassed all our expectations when our our significant promotion was conducted via a social media campaign.

 

Sheffield Sellers on Etsy- Team Leaders
Image: Danni Maytree Photography

Imogen's Imagination Stall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, frankly if you made it to the end of this round-up, you are probably as knackered and exhausted as I am!

I’m going to spend most of the Christmas period asleep so I can be ready to be on it in the new year….I have a big project to launch in the coming months.

I also know I have two pop-up shop projects to plan for Hat Stand and Sheffield Sellers on Etsy, as well as another Etsy Made Local…but as for the rest?

That kind of depends what exciting projects, you dear reader, throw my way.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

HaTalk Magazine: Hat of the Month

HATalk-Hat of the Month- Front Cover

Imagine my surprise to find one of my designs as Hat of the Month in HaTalk magazine! I have been totally spoilt by the editorial team over the last couple of months!

I am extremely honoured to announce that I have been granted not only the cover spot this month (again!) but also the coveted Hat of the Month feature pages telling the story of my hat for the Made in Sheffield exhibition at Millenium Gallery.

This was my first attempt at working with leather and I was thrilled with the results. It was even more exciting to be able to work with lasers for the final trimmings.

If you would like to find out more about the story of the hat, you can read the whole story here and I will also be “In Conversation” with Giles Grover of Small Machines, who helped me create this ambitious design, as part of the Year of Making talks during The Festival of the Mind. We will be at The Spiegeltent in Barkers Pool on Monday 19th September at 2pm.

PS. I’ll can also let you into a little secret, the cover image was actually taken on my phone. I have no idea how I managed to take such a good photo and I fear I couldn’t repeat it again if I tried!

 

 

HATalk-Hat of the Month- Front CoverHATalk-Hat of the Month- Contents PageHATalk-Hat of the Month article

 

 

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Imogen’s Imagination in HATalk Magazine

HATalk Magazine Front Cover

HATalk magazine is one of my favourite reads, so imagine my surprise the other week when I opened my email to read the latest edition, only to see one of my hats on the screen!

As part of The Hat Stand, we have been so very lucky to not only have the support of our local press in Sheffield, but also to receive the support of one of only two dedicated industry magazine for milliners!

HATalk is a monthly online magazine dedicated to all things hatty and has an international readership of professional and amateur milliners.  Packed with information about competitions, how to guides, and lots of news from the world of millinery, it’s a huge honour for The Hat Stand to be featured and for one of the shots from our Shoot Day with Ellie Grace Photography to be used as the cover image.

This is a subscription magazine, but we are truly grateful to the editor for allowing us to share the story of this year’s pop-up shop project with you…for free!

 

 

HATalk Magazine Front CoverHATalk Magazine The Hat StandHATalk Magazine The Hat StandHATalk Magazine The Hat StandHATalk Magazine The Hat Stand

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Made in Sheffield: The Story Behind the Hat

Made in Sheffield

Made in SheffieldToday a brand new exhibition opened at Millennium Gallery where it will run until 8th January 2017.

Usually, I wouldn’t write about a new exhibition, but this one is a little bit special, as I am in it. Well, obviously not me, literally, but my hat is!

To have been invited as one of the makers to take part in Made in Sheffield is, quite frankly, a massive honour. The exhibition will feature work from over 150 creative businesses and artists as part of the city-wide initiative, The Year of Making. I genuinely never ever imagined I would ever be involved in something quite so prestigious!

The invitation to take part was originally offered during Open Studios at Exchange Place, back in November last year.  Naturally, I decided that I wanted to make something special for the six month exhibition.  I had a little think and decided that my inspiration for the piece should be, well, making!  I also wanted to celebrate collaboration, traditional skills and modern technology.

 

Not too much to cram into my brief for myself then!

 

Brogue research on PintrestOne of the most recent technologies to be used in millinery is laser cutting.  I’d seen some fabulous geometric, flora and fauna based designs via my daily Pintrest forays, but they just didn’t feel right with my “traditional” brief. Then I spotted some shoes that were spot on….well you don’t get more traditional than a pair of brogues! And then followed some serious shoe shopping on Pintrest, all in the name of research naturally.

 

My next job was to decide what material to make the design with.  Obviously, shoes are made from leather so this seemed like the natural choice. But I’ve never actually worked with leather before!  Luckily, I have my #girlgang of Hat Stand Sheffield milliners, both past and present, so I was able to get lots of advice from them about how to go about working with it.  I was also able to call on the expertise of Kathryn Sillince of Magpie Accessories (also of Exchange Place Studios) for general advice about working with leather and potential pitfalls.

 

So design inspiration chosen, materials chosen, I just had to think about the technicalities of a practice that I knew nothing about (I really wasn’t making life easy for myself with this idea!).  My next port of call was to see our resident “laserist” at Exchange Place Studios, the brilliant Giles Grover of Small Machines.

 

Small Machines, Big Ideas!

Small Machines Ballista Toy
Small Machines: Ballista Toy

Giles normally makes toys, but not just any old toys.  Cool toys.  Toys that come in kit form that you can build yourself. Toys that work by hydraulics, or shoot stuff…I mean who doesn’t think a ballista is cool?

But I also knew that Giles had worked with other designers such as M-Dex Design and The Owlery, so if he would agree to help me, I was going to be in very good company!

Giles and myself had a long chat in January this year about the capabilities of his kit, the limitations of my material of choice and ironed out quite a few potential hazards. We agreed we would come back together once the invitation was formalised.  Then on the second day of The Hat Stand, the email landed…as did the deadline! Suddenly, a project which had been on the back burner for 4 months needed to be completed in three weeks! Cue action stations.

 

Creating the brogue patternMy first job was to design the decoration for the hat. Whilst I wanted the design to incorporate a brogue toe cap, I wanted to avoid the hat looking too “shoe-like”, I’m not Elsa Schiaparelli!

Giles recommended a (free!) software program I could download  that would allow me to trace the required design and manipulate it to suit my design.

 

Creating the brogue patternThis was quite time consuming as I was learning the programme at the same time, but I was very pleased with the results

Once the pattern was in digital form, this was transferred to the laser cutter’s software….and our first trial was under way!

 

 

 

Back in my studio…

My next job (whilst Giles got on with some very urgent orders for himself!) was to get the basics of my hat made. I settled in for some serious blocking and sewing sessions.

Due to my inexperience with leather, I chose a shape that I knew I could block confidently and that would offer some design “wiggle-space” if things didn’t go quite according to plan. I didn’t have time for a trial run so a Plans A-D were definitely required. But I did block a couple of spares, just in case things went really, really wrong!

 

Blocking buckram hat basesFirstly, I need to get two layers of foundation fabric, buckram, blocked.  This would give my hat the strength to survive being pulled around when I stretched the leather over it.

I then sewed a wire into the edge of the hat to add further strength and prevent it stretching during the process of attaching the leather.

After that, a layer of ice wool was sewn over the top.  The leather I used was quite thin, almost gloving leather, so without this underlay the texture of the buckram would show through, spoiling the smoothness of the finished hat.

I also added a bias strip of tarlatan just inside the edge of the hat.  This would allow me an anchor point to sew the leather into.  I couldn’t stitch through the buckram, ice wool and leather without potentially doing myself, or the hat, an injury!

 

Finally, I could start pinned my proposed decoration to the skeleton of the hat to gauge the proportions and positioning of my paper templates.

 

 

The next step was to attach the leather to the hat, but as with anything millinery related, there was more to this seemingly simple task than meets the eye.  Firstly, I had to block the leather over my hat block to stretch and shape it as much as possible before it was attached to the hat.  Then, once it was fully dry, I pinned it in place over the buckram skeleton.  Three rounds of pinning later, with each session easing out more and more creases at the edge, I was ready to start sewing it in place…again, easing out those pesky creases.

 

 

Time to start lasering!

 

Laser Cutting MachineLaser Cutting MachineNow for the most daunting part of the whole process, actually laser cutting the leather.  I don’t mind admitting that this was possibly the scariest bit! I was now completely reliant on Giles’ expertise, experience and equipment to make this hat happen.  No pressure Giles!

 

I was worrying for nothing though.  Thanks to all the prep work we had done, the process was pretty straight forward and surprisingly quick.  There’s no denying it wasn’t a bit stinky though!!!

 

 

 

Gluing leather for millinery decorationBut I was now on my own again now with the project.

Kathryn (whom I mentioned earlier) very kindly gifted me a scrap of contrast colour leather to use in my design.

I now needed to create a series of leather sandwiches formed of my laser cut leather and Kathryn’s kind donation. One of the panels also had wire inserted in to the layers.

As you can see, things very quickly went from super hi-tech, to super lo-tech!

 

 

 

Using pinkin gshear with leather

To give my brogue decoration the classic zigzag finish it required, I used pinking shears.  This allowed me to cut crisply through the bonded leather edges.

I created decorative panels (no spoilers yet!) along with brogue straps.  I wanted to create an element of height in the design of hat, along with a nod to the traditional laces of a brogue shoe, as well as the traditional loops and curls you may find in the trimming of a hat.

 

 

 

 

Then the final jobs were to assemble the decoration, add the elastic that would allow the hat to be worn, stitch in a suitable lining (I chose coordinating taffeta for this) and lastly cover all the joins with a further laser cut disc of leather. Whenever I make a hat, reaching these final steps is the best part…it means it’s nearly ready for it’s new home.

 

So finally, here it is.

 

After seven months in the planning and making, my brogue inspired leather hat featuring laser cut leather and incorporating the key themes, thanks to which I thrived over the last 10 years: Making, Collaboration, Traditional Skills and Modern Technology.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped me make this hat.  Not least to the amazing Giles Grover of Small Machines for making this madcap idea,  reality.  It wouldn’t have been possible without his assistance or generosity with his time, skills and kit. I am indebted to you for your help. Thank you!

Ps. You’ll also be able to find more of Giles’ work at the exhibition too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hat Stand: Half Time Review

The Hat Stand Sheffield logo

Ok, so technically this is an 11 day review of The Hat Stand rather than actually half-time, but boy, oh boy, what a first 11 days!!!!

We have been utterly and totally overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm our project has received in this short time.  The days have flown past so far and we suspect they will shoot past during the coming weeks too.

We kicked off with a fabulous online feature about Hat Stand in The Star on Friday 3rd June and this was followed up with a mention in the print copy on Monday this week. We didn’t realise it had made it to print too, so we were very happily surprised when people arrived this week saying they had read about us in the paper!

 

 

Shoot day…

Sunday may be a day of rest for most, but at Hat Stand, the first weekend is always photoshoot weekend and last Sunday was no exception. My huge thanks to Niamh at Gypsy Rose Salon (Hair), Izzy (Make-up) and Megan (Model), as well as our photographer Ellie (Ellie Grace Photography) for helping us with this part of the project. Here’s a few sneaky peeks from Ellie to give you a flavour of things to come…I can’t wait to see the final edit!!!

 

 

The Launch Party…

Lord Mayor and High Sheriff at Hat Stand Sheffield

On Monday we held our Launch Party which was a wonderful evening. We were joined by friends and family along with some very distinguished guests; The High Sheriff of South Yorkshire Dr Julie MacDonald DL and The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Denise Fox. Naturally, we took advantage of this for a photo to celebrate the occasion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hat Stand Sheffield Launch Party 2016We weren’t the only ones to be snapped enjoying ourselves though.  Thanks to the fabulous Danni of Danni Maytree Photography, we have loved seeing our guests chatting, trying on hats and enjoying their fizz. If you would like to see more, please do check out the album on The Hat Stand Facebook page. There are still lots more to add so please do keep checking in.  In addition to being photographed, our guests were also sketched by the immensely talented Samantha Galbraith.  Thanks to Kriszta for capturing this for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Demonstration Day…

Yesterday we had Demo Day at Hat Stand and brought in some of our hat making equipment and work in progress to show visitors how our hats are made.  We had some great chats with people about the many processes involved in making a hat, along with some of the lesser known tricks of the trade. We really enjoyed talking about our work and showing that you don’t have to have specialist equipment to create intriguing designs. We were really grateful that people stopped by and showed such interest in learning more, as well as appreciating the skills we have worked so hard to perfect.

 

So what’s next at Hat Stand? 

Urm, honest answer, re-stocking…lots and lots of re-stocking from all three of us!

We have been genuinely shocked at the rate at which pieces are flying off the shelves.  We are all frantically working away behind the scenes to keep refreshing the shop and bring you new pieces as quickly as possible. So, if you see something on our social media pages which takes your fancy, please don’t delay in getting in touch.  We can reserve designs with a deposit and as many designs are one offs, we would hate for anyone to be disappointed that they have missed out.

Roll on the next 11 days…as after that point we will be in our final week.  There are going to be some sore blocking and sewing fingers come the 29th June and our last day at The Hat Stand!

PS.  If you have been to visit us and had a little play with our designs (and the photoframe!) be sure to check out our Happy Customers album on Facebook and be sure to tag yourself.

 

 

 

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