Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hats Off to my Art Students!

We all became mad hatters in my classroom this week in conjunction with a unit on how visual arts applies to performing arts, and in preparation for our Alice in Wonderland themed prom. It was easier and more fun than I had thought it would be, and I'm tickled with the results.  I'll share the steps to make your own below.
Students had the choice between doing a regular sized top hat or a mini top hat that can be attached to a headband and worn off to the side. Most students were able to do both by the time the week was over. 
mini hats look adorable worn at an angle with a ribbon or headband to secure them

The mini top hats used card stock (half a piece cut lengthwise would be the sides, and then the brim and top were made by tracing circles on another piece of card stock. Tracing the inside and outside of a roll of new duct tape seemed to work pretty well for the top and brim.  Two 8.5"X 11" pieces of heavy paper make 2 little hats! Upholstery fabric swatches were used to cover the little hats. Because it took two or three swatches for a little hat, some times these were mismatched, adding to the charm and whimsy.

To make a large top hat , I cut a rectangle the length piece (24"-30") of poster board, eight or nine inches wide.  I wrapped it around my head to get the circumference, then traced the oval at the end of the tube onto the remaining poster board. This is definitely not perfect and needs a little tweaking to make it an clean oval.

Then I add 2.5"-3" around the oval to make the rim.  This can be done with cardboard and an X-acto knife, but posterboard is much easier to cut with scissors.  I like to keep the brim as a solid letter "O" shape, but if you need to cut a slit to get to the inner circle (for the brim of the hat) then just tape it back together.
I scored the two long sides of the rectangle so that they would fold about 3/4"-1" and then cut slits perpendicular to the fold to create little tabs.

Now if you use black poster board, you can get away with a paper hat, but most of the hats were covered with fabric, and it makes sense to use your flat hat pieces as patterns for the felt before gluing the paper together. So go ahead and do that. You'll need 2 brims, one top, and one rectangle for the side. We used felt so we didn't need to worry about the edges fraying.
To make the fit accurate, I rolled the rectangle into a tube and let it expand into the brim.  I used hot glue around the inside of the brim and pushed the tabs down on top. Once that was finished, I flipped it right side up and pushed the other tabs in, to attach the top of the hat.

When cutting the felt, some students made the top of the hat a little bigger so the edges could be pushed down to overlap with the sides.  Others made the side (rectangle) a little taller so it could fold over the top and have a perfectly fitted oval be glued to the top of that.  Both ways worked just fine. It's probably a good idea to cut little slits or triangles out of the extra felt to have it fold down more neatly, if you are doing the top part first, however.

The brim of the hat just slides down and is hot glued to the top before flipping it over and doing the same for the bottom of the brim.  Again, if the fabric on the top of the brim is a little wider, it can have little triangles cut around the extra 3/4" or so and tucked under. Then the bottom of the brim can be slightly more narrow than the brim, just to cover the overlap and leave no poster board showing. Some students made the top and bottom fabrics a little larger than the poster board or card stock, glued the edges of the fabric together, and then trimmed the edges.

The genius is in the details.  Most of the hats looked pretty shabby until they were dressed up with ribbon, buttons, feathers, flowers, and hat pins made from painted Q-tips and fake jewels. This is when the student got a chance to show off their creativity and ability to create visual unity.

A couple of students made steam-punk hats based on a video they saw. For this kind of leathery or metallic looking hat, a foam cup, painted black. was used as the base. A black piece of card stock was cut into two circles, one for the top of the cup (hat) and one for the brim. Students used Elmer's glue to attach small overlapping squares of black construction paper and then placed dots of hot glue in the center of some of the squares like the nails or rivets seeming to hold it all together.


Metallic colored paint was dry brushed onto the surface to finish off the steam punk feel.

 So for a a couple of hours and a few dollars, students not only learned to make a hat, but were able to explore the career of costume design, gain a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes for movies and plays, and help decorate for prom.

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