The Origins of Straw Hat Making

with Jane Smith
Straw Hat making- Adele List millinery

Adele List millinery

In 2013 Jane Smith and Jeanette Sendler undertook a research trip to Vienna to see the extensive hat collection of Adele List.

Adele was a Viennese Milliner working from the 1920s through to the 1970s, who ignored traditional finishing techniques and conventional shapes. Among other things it was how she used material as a source of inspiration which made her hats such a success. She refused to embellish with flowers, bows or feathers, but instead used the material itself, such as feathers or straw, as a foundation, which she then softly sculpted directly onto her clients’ heads.

This masterclass is for milliners everywhere but will also be of interest to basket makers and fibre artists. It is the first of its kind for Jane, and draws on her wide interest in the straw hat industry: the local English straw hat plaiters; the early Italian straw hat makers; the Chinese straw hat weavers; and the Swiss straw weavers who introduced cellophane and synthetic straws which became fashionable in the 1950s and are still made in large quantities today.

We will explore woven and plaited fibres of all kinds used both in the past and tin modern times, from the cones used to make 1920s cloches to the expanding technique of weaving the capalene hood. You will see various examples, including peanut straw and fibres like wheat, rush and grass stems.

You will make at least one hat using vintage straw. Jane will have a supply of straws, but she will also show you how to recycle old straws to great effect by unpicking and re-modelling.

Antique straws still turn up in markets in America, Italy and Switzerland, and you are welcome to bring any straws you might have to work with!

Price: £495 plus £5 per day lunch (optional)

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