Hat Studio

I became fixated on this idea of wearing my studio on my head as soon as Kate mentioned the prototype, and I set to work looking for inspiration which for me often comes from childhood memories:  In this case:  shutterstock_editorial_5851001a-1024x665

Inspector Gadget whose hat is a high tech studio,


Caps for Sale, a story about a hat peddler,


and Paddington Bear, who always has a sandwich in his hat!

I thought these responded nicely to Hannah Perner-Wilson’s observation that “the studio provides infrastructure, shelter, space” (https://canvascloud.ocadu.ca/courses/1337/modules/items/108615).  I also thought of this description as a state of mind, so part of my mobile studio is to identify what hours of the week I will use for prototyping projects (Sunday, Monday and Wednesday).

1. Space(s): The Studio

I am lucky to have a studio environment where I will be doing my prototyping work for this class.  This is a picture of my studio –


it is on the top (attic) floor of our house.  It’s cold up here so I often work with a heating pad and blanket on my knees in the winter.  The main space I work on is the table at the centre of the room.  I always clear it at the end of the day unless I need to leave something out, but I like walking into a fresh work space as it helps me clear my head.  I store my tools and materials along the walls on shelving and in containers and drawers.  Not pictured are drawers of pencils/paper/markers/paint and a craft cart with things like beading wire, and odd bits and bobs of materials I collect (or rather, can’t bring myself to throw out). 

I have a desktop monitor and laptop I will use for any digital prototyping.  I learned to use Fusion 360 for modelling last semester and got a little more comfortable with illustrator.  Photoshop is a go-to tool for collaging images for ideas too. 

I have a dressmakers dummy that I will use for prototyping also – and I have a lot of styrofoam heads around too – I’m anticipating I will focus on hats, shoes and bags as areas to explore, but I’m excited to see what other inspirations come up!

I also have an outdoor studio space out of the city on my family’s farm.  One of the projects I am working on there is a series of musical dolls (using old movements from music boxes).  


These dolls are on wheels and made of plaster with layers of organic material overtop of them.  I’m curious to play around with conductivity of materials to see what other forms of communication these dolls might be possible to make.  I working on one version there which is a doll/moveable studio/storage cart.  Pictured is a prototype which I plan to finish this summer in black carbon fibre stackable boxes (mouse proof!).


2. Things

New Parts:


Materials Arrived!  Arduino Nano IoT 33 with headers – includes wifi & bluetooth, Breadboard, Through hole resistors 220 and 10K ohm, 5mm LEDs assorted colours, USB portable charger, Micro usb charger, Velostat, Multimeter

In Transit!  Full rotation micro servo, Jumper wires 3” and 12”, Alligator clips, Alligator to Jumper cables, Stainless Conductive Thread, Conductive Fabric

Coming Soon!  More conductive thread options, Circuit Playground Express

Already Part of my Studio Environment:

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Tools: Scissors, Utility Knife, Sewing Machine, Sewing needles, Knitting needles, Tape, Multiple glues: wood, fabric, instant, glue sticks + glue gun, Iron+ Ironing Board, Safety glasses and gloves

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Materials: Multiple types of fabric:  wool, cotton, non fray, stretch fabrics, Old Shoes, Yarn, Papers and cardboard, Liquid latex, Various paints, Threads, Buttons and fasteners, Heat n’Bond, Copper wire, Chip Bags, Plant matter, Plaster Bandages, Artificial and real hair, Kombucha

At other studio location to be fetched if needed:  soldering iron , wire stripper, Various types of fibreglass fabrics and resin (in other studio), Raw kombucha scobbies

3. Systems

I addressed some of the storage system in the space section, and I will continue to use this organization for  tools and materials I already have.  So I focused the idea of a prototype on the new materials that are coming into the studio. While I wanted to make a hat, I realized that I need more information and familiarity with my tools and processes over the next weeks to make a functional one.  So I went to the location of my hat inspiration to rethink the wearable studio.  I carry alot of my tools between studios in bags/purses and canvas bags.  I have one bag in particular I picture would translate into a hat very well:

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After receiving my first batch of new material today, I decided to keep the required tools and materials together in modular boxes that fit into a canvas bag.  In a class last semester I prototyped a hanger just for canvas bags.  I’ll use a large one I have for these materials, so that I can add to it and store prototypes in it over the course of the semester.  I will use my hanger prototype to keep the wearable studio bag hanging on the rack along with my wearable sculptures in progress you can see on the left side of the studio picture above.  Since I’m not planning to work outside of the studio environment (on a hike), the shoulder bag works well. 

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I have a few clear plastic modular boxes I am picking up from the farm studio later this week.  I really like the clear boxes because it makes it easy to find what you’re looking for without having to open everything up.  But I don’t like to look at stacks of clear boxes so that’s why they are going into the bag!  As the weather warms up I will be spending more time at the farm studio, and I anticipate working on prototyping up there.  The bag will make it easy to move everything that I need at once without having to gather and pack up.  I also have doubles of alot of the studio tools like thread, needles, tape, scissors, papers, wire, sewing machine, fabrics etc… up there so I won’t include this in my moveable studio bag – just the electronic parts and materials which are new for me. This bag will then be moved along with my existing travel canvas bags.

Depending on the direction my making goes, I may be spending more time outside (especially with that multimeter to test conductivity of materials around the farm) So I was inspired to photograph a light vest I use alot on camping trips and hikes because of the two front pockets.  And felt in good company when I read about Jen Liu’s fly fishing inspired designs. 


4. Methods

I anticipate employing sewing – both hand stitching and machine sewing, knitting and crochet.  I am very excited to play around with the conductive threads.

I would like to try programming and using bluetooth either to play with light or sound. Circuit building and playing around with the breadboard

I anticipate also employing some techniques for making hard shapes for hat and shoe forms – like plaster, paper mache and fibreglassing for final pieces. 

All of these methods I can employ in my current studio space.

One thought on “Hat Studio”

  1. Hi Erica,
    I enjoyed the intro you did in your presentation re: your studio name: Hat Studio, it was very thoughtful.
    Nice large studio also quiet and bright, plus having an extra studio at your family farm is fabulous!.
    It is excellent having ideas on what you already want to explore. I am looking forward to know more about your work!

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