Hat Blocks and Hats: Sculptural Form and Artistic Function with Wayne Wichern

Hat Blocks and Hats: Sculptural Form and Artistic Function with Wayne Wichern

Thursday, May 19 | 7 - 8pm | Free with admission

A piece of felt or straw, a cloud of steam and a wooden hat block are the essential ingredients for the making of a hand blocked hat. Take a peek inside the world of hat making craft.
Behind every elegant hat is the shaping tool known as a hat block. The hat block is a tool made for the millinery trade by a skilled woodcraft artisan. While the hat block has practical use in the studio, alone it is an amazing artistic achievement. The felt and straw is pulled or “blocked” over these wood forms while hot and damp with steam, giving the desired shape, then tied with cords to hold the materials in place. The hat then needs to dry before removal from the hat block. The hat blocks are infinite in variety and complexity. “The job of a contemporary milliner or hat maker is to utilize these vintage and contemporary hat blocks in innovative ways, not just using the obvious shape, but to combine the forms and tease out their hidden expression."

Wayne Wichern’s millinery design and teaching career evolved out of his experiences as a floral designer, classical ballet dancer and his interest in fashion and costume design. He has created hats for theater productions of the Belfry Theater in Victoria, BC, Art Club Theater, Vancouver, BC, San Francisco Ballet, Seattle Repertory Theater, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His innovative hat designs are in collections of the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, WA.