Forest Flame Millinery

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eve Before MAAD

Speedpost delivered the straw that I ordered from New York 2 weeks ago.
 These are not hats. In millinery, they are called capelines and milliners need to steam, block, wire them using wooden hat blocks.



I don't know why these are known as Peanut Straw but I call them my practice straw. Being relatively inexpensive (if I buy a dozen), I reckon that I won't cry if I make mistakes. But wait, the shipping cost more than the sum of 12 straw, so if I cost in the shipping, then it's not so cheap. This means, I cannot make too many mistakes. They are still much much cheaper than parasisal straw!

In case you are wondering what's parasisal straw. Here's a pink parasisal straw hat worn by Kate Middleton recently.

Parasisal straw is getting more and more expensive because there are fewer young people who want to learn the craft. I used to buy them at about US$12 each but recent price increase has resulted in one costing between US$20 to US$30. The tighter weave e g. parabuntal and panama straw can easily cost US$40 and above. So now you understand why I dare not work on my parasisal yet.

Seems like all my supplies arrive today. The postie also delivered these to my mailbox.

 These butterflies are for my mini saucer hats and I have planned to finish them today...but looks like I may not.
I had to order these black wire tooth combs from China. I could not find them in all the shops in Arab St, South Bridge Road and even Chinatown. Everyone tells me that they only stock the big ones. The smaller tooth combs fits better in my cocktail hats and they grip the hair more securely too.

I may have got carried away as I prepare a batch of floral lace appliques headband. There were so many color combination and I have spent too much time thinking how to match the colours. The bands are sewn and I just have to stitch them to the appliques.

The one in the headband is a simpler version I made for a bridal party. My new ones have double flowers and I've added 2 beaded leaves.

Got to finish them quickly as I have to work on a bridal piece. The Russian veiling is really a pain, being made of synthetic, the veil is difficult to shape.

But I have done it before, I am sure I can do it again.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Would I throw my hats away?

I was at a craft market last weekend 'peddlaring' my hats. Sales was slow recently but I expected it. Afterall, my busy months are in August -Dec. I am hoping to sell at the same place in Dec and so now, I just need to clock in enough sessions to qualify to sell in Dec, which everyones know is THE month to make sales.

The request for ad-hoc custom order has stopped. Call it madness, but I actually made an announcement to say that I don't do custom order anymore. If you are in my profession, you will know how busy we are. We work till midnight and there's no rest for us on Sat, Sun and public holidays. It's a tough job but we do it because it's our calling. We just whinge and let go of steam when it gets too tough. And we do whinge and complain a lot :}

Back to the craft market, this seller came over to show me 2 types of hair clips. They were "made by housewives. Do you know how to make? Why don't you make these? They are very sellable". Thanks dude. But I doubt I want to make them because Daiso used to sell these hair clips at a mere $2 and they are more for children. My friend beside me said no one buys those clips. I second to that. But because he has hardly shown me his obnoxious side (just rubbed his backside on my shoulder the last time I sat behind him),  I rejected his idea politely. I will be cordial to him as long I plan to sell at the same market. He tends to encroach your space by setting tables and chairs to place his wares. So when the space gets smaller, each time he walked past, his arse rubbed against your shoulder.

Anyway, my sales was bad. I know,  I just refuse to sell my hat cheap nor do I want to make 'budget hats'. Millinery is my passion and if I don't sell any hats, I will wear them myself or be cremated with me when I did. It is so against what I believe in and that is to make sales but selling CHEAP.  I wasn't bothered at all the comments around me. Furthermore, the rent is very low - there is no lost at all for me. I still have 2 new designs that I am making for the Australian market and sales pick up from my Oz customer base every year in Sep-Oct.

So as I was packing up at the end of the day, another seller who had wanted to get a cocktail hat for an event next week but did not when she didn't expect the lowest price cocktail hat I have is a mere $48 (only 24 UK pound).  She came back when I was ready to go and said this to me, "Do you have anything you want to throw or do not want. I can buy it off from you cheap." This was her exact word.  I remember because she said trice. I didn't understand why she wanted to buy my 'throwaway' as there were only banana skin, soiled tissue from blowing my nose and the leftover chay-kway-teow in my rubbish bag. Then it hits me! This was her way of asking for a big discount. She reckoned that my sales was so poor today, I will be happy to earn a few dollars by selling her a cocktail hat. You know something, I didn't use any f-words on her and neither did I use Hokkien and Cantonese versions when I reached home.

I have improved! Nah...she was nice before and I don't feel angry by what she said.

And I am giving instructions to my daughter that should I die, all my unsold hats and supplies cannot be given away. It will be nice to cremate with them.




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Little Perchers

I dislike the term, fascinators. Seriously, why is a few sprig of feathers glued to a headband called a fascinator? And in Singapore, the ladies like to call any hair accessories with feathers - fascinators. My cocktail hats are also called fascinators by them too. So what is a fascinator? Who coined the term? I am just too lazy to find out. Anyway, I much prefer to call my cocktail hats , well, cocktail hats or perchers.



These are my perchers or cocktail hats. Don't call them fascinators, please.

It's Labour Day and I was stuck at home since I don't fancy going out with a walking stick. So I ended up watching re-runs like Hell Boy, Meet Joe Young and a coupe of Disney Movies on the tele. My teen wasn't at home as she has gone to work at this amazing place selling terrarium, The Plant Story.
They are not the only one selling terrariums in Singapore but they have the most aesthetically pleasing terrariums and in my opinion, the most beautiful terrariums.

A couple of months ago, way before paying my daughter's school fees, when I had more 'disposable' income, I chanced upon an Ebay shop selling vintage collectibles and amongst them were these vintage millinery flowers. Now, these ain't the CHEAP AND NASTY flowers you see at shops. They are made in velvet and silk. Well, what's the big deal? You can get millinery flowers at etsy and ebay. Well, the deal is they are cheaper than most shops and no shipping cost. Yeah, what a bargain.


I adore these white Pansy and used to grow lots and lots of them at my front porch and back yard when I was living in Edgewater, Western Australia. They are not typical wedding flowers but I am gonna sew them to natural colour sinamay.

These tiny white lily originated from Japan and I will be using them in a bridal hat.

I have a bazaar on Friday at MAAD (Market for Artists and Designers). Hope to see you. I am getting my fries (guilt-free fries as I cooked them in my new Philip's Airfryer - where deep frying is done without oil) ready as I await for "Hannibal Rising" to start in an hour times.