Going to Anime Boston this year reminded me that I haven’t told you all about my hat project. THE hat project. The big one. The mother of all projects. The project that spanned years, involved international commerce, and still has remnants floating around my house. And it all started with a single hat. Or, the lack of one.
A few years back, as the steampunk trend was just on the upswing, I decided to make myself a steampunk costume for Anime Boston. It would have a tweed skirt, a brocade bustier, some interesting leather doodads and brass thingies, and of course a miniature top hat. The problem was, I couldn’t find a hat that I liked– the pre-decorated ones were insanely expensive and the craft-store felt ones were really cheap looking, being more like flocked plastic than real felt and too small for what I had in mind. I did try to place an order for the largest available cheap felt hat from an online supply store, but they were out of stock. That, I think, was the turning point in the whole endeavor, because I had to think outside of the box. (why I didn’t just make a hat out of cardboard and cover it in fabric, I have no idea…)
As you know, if you do an in-depth search for an item on eBay the regular results eventually give way to hits for overseas wholesalers who will sell you bulk quantities of said item. While I personally had no need for huge numbers of tiny hats, it occurred to me that if I was having a problem locating a reasonably priced, decent-quality mini top hat, other people might be having the same problem. Pretty soon I had an email conversation going with a hat company in China that could ship me 150 black felt mini top hats for what worked out to be just under $4.00 a hat, including shipping (which was the most expensive part).
Sparing you the logistics, eventually I ended up with two giant cardboard boxes of hats and about 3 months in which to prepare them for sale at an Artist’s Alley table at Anime Boston.
I blame this project entirely on Pinterest. I was browsing through the “Kids” section when I saw some really adorable pictures of play kitchens people had made for their children by repainting nightstands and attaching faucets and/or burners to the tops. Seriously, these things were cute. And hey, I loved cooking, so surely my 2-year-old would want to be like Mommy, and would need her own play kitchen! Heck, having a play kitchen would probably keep her from trying to use the real stove– making her one was practically a safety precaution!
I immediately started plotting where to find some nightstands of my own, but the local Goodwill was pretty short on furniture and there was a mysterious dearth of garage sales in my area, so I had to look for another option. Plunging back into Pinterest, I found examples of people modifying existing play kitchens (which, as a whole, are pretty cheesy looking in their original plastic glory).
Always preferring to do superficial modification rather than major construction, I started looking for a decent base to start with, and that’s where IKEA came in. Ah, IKEA, a store where the layout doesn’t just encourage impulse buying, it actively tries to snatch your purse before letting you find the exit. IKEA had a basic play kitchen that was just crying out for a makeover, and for once, the fact that it came completely disassembled would be a plus, as it would facilitate repainting.
Honestly, a kitchen doesn’t get more basic and utilitarian than the IKEA one. And sure, my daughter would probably have just as much playing with it, but I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun looking at it every day. Continue reading →