Editor's Note: Join us at the Maryland Historical Society on Wednesday at 11am as our Costume Interns detail their findings from this summer's rehousing efforts!
By Lidia Plaza
While hats may not be ubiquitous in fashion today, there have been times when a civilized head would not be caught dead without a hat. As a result, our collection is–pardon the pun–brimming with hats. So as we continue to pull boxes from Pratt House, we occasionally tackle rehousing hats.
The Standard-Issue Hat Mount
In almost every case, rehousing a hat means building a hat mount with a blue board base and a padded ethafoam dome support. These hat mounts keep the hats supported so that they keep their shape in storage. Each mount is custom built for the hat, so the first step in creating a mount is to cut the blue board and ethafoam to the right size. The blue board should be sized such that there is plenty of room to handle the mount without disturbing the hat.
The next step is to the carve down the ethafoam into a circle that easily fits in the crown of the hat. Once the foam is the right size, we cover it in cotton knit stocking. We cut a slit in the side of the ethafoam and stuff the end of the cotton stocking in the slit in order to secure it to the ethafoam block.
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Next, we stuff the top of the mount with Polyfil to round out the dome that will support the hat.
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Finally the dome of the mount needs to be glued to the blue board with archival hot glue. Typically we add a little block of ethafoam between the mount and the board to keep the hat from rubbing on the board.
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After glueing, the completed hat mount is set aside while the glue cools and cures before placing the hat on it for final storage.
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A Few Customized Hat Mounts
Every once in a while, a hat will require something a little different than just the standard-issue hat mount. While there are all kinds of crazy hats that might require a really creative solution, here are a few common issues and our solution for them.
Issue 1: the Bonnet. Bonnets are cute and classic, but they tend not to fit on your standard hat mount. The dome of a bonnet is at the back as opposed to the top of the hat, and so the usual mount just won't work quite as elegantly. Our solution has been to make a padded ethafoam dome, as usual, but then turn it on its side so that the dome of the mount can properly support the bonnet.
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Issue 2: The Cowboy Hat (Or any hat with a dipped crown and a brim). In the case of a hat with a creased, or dipped, crown, the dome of the hat mount should not be made to take the weight of the hat, as this will cause the hat to loose its shape. The solution is to add support to the brim either by padding out the sides of the dome, or adding a backer rod halo to the mount.
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