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The Paper Project

So week 1 (and now almost week 2) has come and gone! It’s been weird adjusting back to being in education but I can feel my mojo coming back slowly but surely. Our first Advanced Practice mini-brief was to create something out of paper. Upon Alan’s suggestion, I started with the Printer’s Hat. A few folds and a bit of confusion later…. I had that something quite interesting but, if I’m honest, it just didn’t feel like me. Panic definitely set in a bit here!

I realised I didn’t need to overthink this one. One of the things that continue to amaze me when I create my headpieces is the materials I use and how simple things allow them to design themselves. Sinamay, straw and millinery felt all react wonderfully to water, steam and a bit of elbow grease. What if I applied these same things to paper? Would I get that lovely stiffening effect I get with my usual fabrics that allow me to mould structure into flat fabrics? So let the tests begin! I definitely went into full scientist mode for this one…

Each method I used, I literally just pushed the paper between 2 objects and let it curve in the way it wanted to. I then left it to dry completely like this.

This was watercolour paper submerged in hot water then ‘dented’ twice. The results were really stiff and durable.

This is 170GSM cartridge paper, sprayed with cold water. Holds it’s shape nicely and stiffens a little but can be bent back.

170GSM cartridge paper with just steam applied. Curls lovely at the edges and corners.

Once I found what works with what I tried a little blocking. I got out my trusty mini-boater block (a bit of an eBay find and a stunning antique piece). I realised VERY quickly I needed to crease this to get it started so I did a quick fold coming out from the centre of my cartridge paper. Then all I did was treat this as if I was making any normal hat.

1. Clingfilm your block (this helps them last)

2. Pop a pin in the centre to keep it stable

3. Apply lots of hot steam

3. Working like a clock face (12, 6, 9, 3) shape and pin around the crown of the block. Apply a bit of pressure to pull this nice and cleanly. Use the creases to put in tucks if needed.

4. Fill in the gaps, work on the diagonal at all times (meaning if you’ve pinned at 1, your next pin should go at 7) and keep adding steam as you go

Pin-mad

5. Steam the brim but apply a little more heat by touching the head of the steamer as you go to push it flat. Use clothes pegs to keep secure and leave to dry.

Voila! You have a hat! The steam made this nice and stiff so the shape held without the need for glue or tape. I got so excited I did another shape! Check out the video to see me adding the final steam and push to the button percher shape.


I realised I’m not the best at angles here….hopefully you get the idea!

My final piece I wanted to tackle is a freer shape. I decided a freeform fascinator would be a nice way to test a few different techniques in one. I found the stiffest and most sturdy of all my tests was watercolour paper submerged in hot water. So I cut a nice abstract shape I knew would work well and did just that. I didn’t leave it for too long so the paper didn’t fall apart. I then pinned and shaped a small circle on the side of a head block. Normally, this would be where I would like a fascinator to sit on the head and where I would add a comb/clip/headband. I then simply tipped the head at an angle on its side and pushed it against the wall and left it to dry into its own shape.

The flat watercolour paper

This is the technical method….

I wanted the paper to just sit in the way it wanted to – leading me rather than me leading it

I couldn’t help but add a few origami flowers to decorate…

I then took a little step back and focused on the lovely movement that came from the paper when being steamed. I played about with curling strips with scissors and watching as they gently unfurled as the fibres relaxed. I could watch this forever! I think this could be an interesting avenue to explore so watch this space.


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