It all began in 2002 when I read the June issue of Victoria Magazine and came across a beautiful article, 'Brimming with Talent' featuring Amy Hamilton of Granville Millinery Company in Ohio. I was enthralled by the materials, the style of hats and Amy’s story. In fact I was so inspired that I decided right then and there that I wanted to learn the art of millinery and declared to my husband, “This is it, I found my creative calling! I want to become a milliner.”
The next step was searching for a milliner whom I could apprentice with since none of the local art schools at the time offered courses in millinery design. But search as I may, I could not find anyone who knew how to block hats or who wanted to teach. So I reached out to Amy Hamilton, the woman featured in the article, and asked if she offered classes. While she didn’t offer formal classes she said that she would be willing to teach me the basics if I would come to her studio in Ohio. So, I did, and that was the beginning of my love affair with learning to make hats. While these early adventures certainly wet my appetite, I knew I was just scratching the surface, so I searched on line for more opportunities to learn and found Waltraud Reiner of Torb & Reiner in Australia. Waltraud would be traveling to the states to teach classes in the northeast. I convinced Waltraud to teach a ‘Sculpting with Sinamay’ class in Atlanta. My home actually became the learning laboratory and with the help of a friend with PR experience, we promoted the class to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who produced a center page spread in the Sunday Lifestyle section! We had students come as far as Virginia and South Carolina. During the class Waltraud talked about her first millinery teacher, Rose Cory, who was the late Queen Mother’s appointed milliner, who taught in London. After saving up some funds, I traveled for the first time to England, to take a millinery workshop with Rose. There I learned more couture skills and drank in the extensive teaching skills Rose so gently and generously offered. And I’m happy to report that all of my teachers who helped me on my path today - Amy, Waltraud and Rose continue to teach and create outstanding and exquisite pieces.
Once I felt I had the skills to begin selling, I joined the Beehive Co-Op in 2006 and began selling my hats in my first retail space. The feedback was so positive I designed a website and soon began my custom work.
Several years later I moved my workshop from my home to a shared studio space. I have always admired the fashion and quality of workmanship and detail the Roaring 20’s and 30’s provided and today I continue to gain inspiration from these eras. I desire to create the same quality of work and detail that defined those eras with the addition of the latest and finest materials and techniques afforded today.
I continue my education by studying fabric flower making, sculpting and shaping feathers, and dying various types of straws and fabrics. I love the intricate process of tweaking the material to create a one of a kind creation.
Much of my work is custom for women who are looking for a special piece for a special occasion. Each inquiry from a new client provides a launch pad for a new creative and learning adventure and fills me with great excitement. I’ve made special occasion hats for the Derby, customized headpieces for brides who don’t want to stop with the gown to really make a statement on their special day, Easter hats, Atlanta fashion shows and any kind of special occasion or rite of passage opportunity. I revel in the process of meeting with a client in the studio and going through all the beautiful feathers, flowers and types of straw and felt to come up with a piece that fits their style and makes them feel unique, and beautiful. There is nothing better than losing myself in my work and coming out on the other side making a piece of art that someone else can wear and treasure forever. I love how the client’s vision and my vision become one and a hat is unique when considered an art form in that it is truly a ‘traveling, wearable sculpture of sorts’ – not only a billboard for the artist but also for the person wearing it, especially when they are part of the creative process.
My work has been featured in newspaper articles, magazines and blogs, including Lucky, Atlanta Magazine, Etsy, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Real Weddings Magazine from the Sierras to Sacramento. I have also worked with costume departments for major motion pictures, stylists, and local theatre groups.
Please reach out and let me know if I can create a special piece for you and join our mailing list to stay in touch.