Monthly Archives: March 2014

Hat Tip

My mother made hats. She took some night classes in hat-making back in the 60s, honed her millinery skills there, and started cranking out the hats.

She made hats out of feathers, fur, fabric, and straw. She used velvet, felt, sequins, colorful fabric flowers, and added stiff veils made with netting. The feathers were the most time consuming: I remember her painstakingly gluing pheasant feathers in precise rows on a hat form that was perched on one of her wooden “heads.” A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle reminded me of those wooden heads, the steaming process, the draping and sizing and trims that are part of the process of creating a hat. I remembered all the work involved, and how my mother took the time to get things just the way she wanted them.

We moved to New York from California in 1957. When we left California, my mother had brown, wavy hair and wore glasses. By the time we returned to California one year later, my mother had ditched the glasses and  turned into a redhead.The transformation took everyone by surprise. Life changed for her that year, I think. Maybe the red hair liberated her to discover new passions and interests. What did I know? I was just a little kid.

hats 3


This was taken in NY, at a fancy bon voyage party. The lady standing behind us is June Taylor (remember the June Taylor dancers?). Our mother is far right, holding a martini glass and wearing a hat, making sure we are behaving ourselves.

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