Thursday, March 19, 2015

Steampunk Vented Top Hat

My husband's one complaint with Steampunk is how very hot everything is and since we live in the desert, I often have to find ways to make thing a bit cooler for him.  At a previous Wild Wild West Con, Susan Holt taught a wonderful class about adding vents into your Steampunk hat to make things a bit cooler.  Since we were returning to Wild Wild West Con and Tucson, I thought my husband could really use a vented hat!

If you are interested in making a vented hat, Susan Holt makes the leather gaskets and the mesh vents in really cool shapes and sells them.  Susan is happy to provide information on installing the gaskets and she has an album with the gasket shapes on her professional facebook page here.  Susan even has shapes like butterflies, gears and stars!  I highly recommend her gaskets, I saw them in person at the recent Wild Wild West Con 4, the gaskets are lovely and come with the matching screen. She also occasionally sells premade and wonderfully decorated vented hats on her etsy site here

The base for this hat is the John Bull Top Hat from Hats in the Belfry and is wool felt.  I talked to Susan Holt to tell her how wonderful her class was and how much I enjoyed making one of the hats and in this discussion she told me that the felt hats are much easier to work with than the cheap costume hats.  Secondly, the copper screen that Susan uses is much easier to work with than what I used.  I planned to use copper screen for my vents, but could not find any so I am using decorative aluminum punchwork stuff I found at the local hobby store. The aluminum stuff was a pain to drill holes for the rivets and I think the screen would have been easier.

First I played around with powerpoint and figured out the size for both my vent hole and my gasket.  Once the sizes were right, I then cut out both sizes in paper.  I decided on 2 vents, one on each side of the hat.  I cut 2 of the large size in leather and 2 in the aluminum.  I then centered and cut the smaller oval in the leather to make the gasket and provide an opening for the vent.  I used leather shears to cut the leather and tin snips for the aluminum.
Next, I cut a hole through the hat where the vents would be placed.  This whole is the smaller window size NOT the large size since I want to be able to rivet the gasket and the vent to the hat.  To cut the felt, I used an Xacto knife and carefully cut out this hole.

Next, I punched the rivet holes into my leather gasket using my leather punch.

I then, used this gasket to mark the drill holes in your vent material.  I then drilled holes in my aluminum vent to allow the vent to be riveted to the hat. 

I then took my gasket and lined it up with the vent hole in the hat.  I used a chalk marking pencil and marked the rivet holes in the hat.  I then used the same leather punch to punch matching rivet holes in the hat. 
In addition to vents, I planned to run PVC tubing with EL wire in it in and out through the hat.  I punched some large holes and set these holes with grommets to facilitate the tubing going from inside the hat to outside the hat.

Next, carefully rivet your vent and gasket to your hat.  This part sucks, it is really hard to set rivets in a hat, but I thought the effect was worth it.

Now repeat for all other vents!
For my specific hat, I was going to a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sort of theme, so I made some octopods out of polymer clay to add to the hat.  The blue clay has glitter in it and I hated working with it so much!  The blue clay was really brittle and did not want to work into any shape. The white clay is actually translucent and it was fine to work with.  I really don't know why the blue glitter clay was so awful to work with. 

I then added the EL wire and tubing as well as some brass pipe fittings to complete the look.  Here is the finished hat!  The power source for the EL wire and the extra EL wire are hidden in the top of the hat.
Hat front
Hat back

hat side 1
hat side 2

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