Hats off to Hats (Part 1)

Conservation of Hats Through an Intern’s Eyes

The Beginning

Twenty-one old, gorgeous hats, all at once within your reach. Not to wear, though, but to preserve. Torment or a treat? Let’s find out!

I am Emma, a second-year textile conservation student from Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, situated in Helsinki, Finland. I got an exciting opportunity to travel to England to build up my practical conservation skills as Zenzie Tinker and the staff of her textile conservation studio kindly let me in as an intern for the summer 2018. They will be leading me through the joys and challenges of the intriguing world of textile conservation.

Photos 1 & 2: Me posing with a 1940s ‘Charmaux’ feather hat.

I didn’t have to wait long for my first project after arriving in the studio. The very first day of my internship was like an early Christmas! There was a huge pile of boxes just waiting to reveal their secrets. The boxes were from Worthing Museum, containing twenty-one women’s hats, mainly from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s. They are to be documented, conserved and packed safely before sending them off to Basel, Swizerland. There they will be exhibited in Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel (Basel Toy World Museum) from the 20th October 2018 till the 7th April 2019. The exhibition is called ‘Hats off to Hats’ – also the origin of the name of this blog.

Photo 3: The hats released from the boxes invaded the studio.

During the next couple of months, I will be working on the hats alongside the textile conservators at Zenzie Tinker Conservation and deepening my knowledge on the processes of textile conservation. Many of the hats are damaged in one way or another and they are made up from various materials. Thus, the project will surely be interesting and challenging for me. In this blog, you will be following my experiences in the studio and reflections on the things I learned there as well as making a journey into the world of historic hats with me. There is a lot to be learned so keep posted on Emma’s hat adventure!

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