Wednesday, November 19, 2014


The Fabulous Hats of Ignatius Creegan and Rod Givens

Ignatius Creegan and Rod Givens are the mad geniuses behind Ignatius Hats. Longtime readers know of our well-chronicled addiction to their millinery creations. Valerie even commissioned them to make her a hat in the shape of the Guggenheim Museum! (For more about the origins and adventures of the Guggenheim hat, click here.) We spent an inordinate amount of time in their booth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, a fact we can document for you now. The opening shot gives you an idea of the whimsical nature of some of their designs, to say nothing of the technical prowess involved, or the creative thinking.

Here are the guys themselves.  (Rod left; Ignatius right.)

Their straw creations run the gamut from crazy, geometric cartoonish shapes like those in our opening shot

to traditional shapes like the top hat.  It's always interesting to see how two different people will wear the same hat.

While the bulk of their creations are in straw, they do design whole winter collections of sumptuous felt hats. They have even started to produce a few men's hats. Our pal Mary Joy tried on one of the men's top hats. While we were wondering who could possibly wear such large headwear, a gentleman walked up and tried one on and it was TOO SMALL! Go figure.

Ginny found an olive felted wool cloche with button detail that fit like a glove.

Mary Joy went for a large grey wool hat with brim with a spotted cat motif that has a wonderful silhouette.

Valerie tried on one of several leaf creations on headbands.

These double feather pom-poms appealed to Jean.

A dramatic veiled number with crystals that encircles the head and neck was designed for a runway show.  It looks worthy of a dowager duchess, or Queen Elizabeth I.  It does raise issues for would-be smokers or imbibers, however chic one might look with a cigarette holder or a glass of champagne.

Here's Jean wearing a hat with large button detailing, with Rod.  The guys buy all sorts of trim from all sorts of places, and put them together in wonderfully unexpected ways.

Valerie tried this large brimmed matte gold hat in feather-light sinamay.

Jean took this Dr. Sesuss-like hat for a spin. The top swirl moves when the wearer does.

A straw disc under the shadow print silk fabric gives shape to this Renaissance print hat.

Jean's selfie in a mini-straw hat that caught her eye.

This pink feather concoction is just the thing to wear for cocktails, don't you think?

Not ready to commit?  Ignatius and Rod have you (and your head) covered.  They have a selection of fun fleece hats like this one. Which you can wear the traditional way, with its tail down your back...

Or, because the fleece is fuzzy, and the fibers tend to adhere easily to themselves, you can pile the tail on your head for a different look.

The gents told us they had a client who had bought a hat from them that day based on our postings!  A convert!  Can't get a much better compliment than that.  And later on we ran into her, hat box in hand.  Here's Deborah, below.  We only wish we'd asked for to show off her new hat for us.  Deborah, if you're reading, send us a photo to post!

Nothing makes our hearts go pitter-patter like hats! Ciao, until next time, kiddies.

**  Thanks to Jimmy Durante for today's title.  (Younger than we are?  Click here to find out who he was.  And for the record, he hails from our parents' generation.  We're not that old.)

Monday, November 17, 2014



Yes, that's us, in a photo taken in a recording studio from the other side of the sound booth, being interviewed by Sandi Klein for The Sandi Klein Show: Conversations with Creative Women.  That's camera-shy Sandi at left.

We'll have our first airing tomorrow (that's Tuesday, November 18) at 10am (that's Eastern time).  To tune in, click on

Will we, in fact, be throwing one of our hats into the ring for 2016?  Tune in tomorrow to find out what we have to say on a whole range of subjects!

Don't miss it!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Made by Hand, Made in America

It's that time of year when we fly (okay, we bus) south to the City of Brotherly Love to attend the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show. And once again, we were not disappointed.  With high rents forcing out all but the chain stores, and mass production everywhere, the creative and beautifully crafted work we find at this annual show never ceases to restore our spirits.  Here we are with a graphic basket by Santa Barbara artist Christine Love Adcock.  Click on the links to view more of the artists' works on their websites.

Here is Christine herself, among a few of the works she brought with her.  We told Christine that we could easily see several of her gorgeous baskets as hats.  (Readers, don't you think so?  Look by her left elbow and her right shoulder.  Aren't those just waiting to be hats?!  And for those of you who think a basket is not a hat, watch this bad, short, old, silent video, made in the days when we didn't know how to edit.)

As always, we made a beeline for Ignatius Hats to see what new creations Ignatius Creegan and Rod Givens have dreamed up to entertain and beguile us.  This little vignette is just a prelude to more in depth coverage in next Wednesday's post, since a single photo simply can't capture all of the fun we and our friends had in their booth.

Friends Amy Nugyen and her husband Ky produce some of the most sophisticated designs, precisely executed with the most artistically woven and dyed textiles that result in a product that looks and feels effortless. The coat on display behind them is a case in point.

The jacket on the wall behind Amy and Ky looked something like this (Amy's latest project) before it was finished.  All the stitching is done by hand, and takes long hours.  Then the material is immersed in a dye bath, and then the stitches have to be removed.  (And we haven't even mentioned rinsing or - ugh - ironing.)

This is a close-up of the jacket on the wall that we've left at high resolution so you can see the tiny faint remnants of stitchmarks.  (So, readers, next time you catch yourself wondering why something hand made is more costly than you expected, think of  the work that went into Amy's jacket.)

We'd first seen New Mexico artist Juanita Geradin at her last Philadelphia appearance four years ago. Her fiber art collection of clothing and accessories is geometric and graphic and wonderfully wearable, with bags made from the same materials as the tunics. Her large three-dimensional wooden pins, like the one shown here, are as light as air, and were all so different and so striking that it was difficult to decide on a favorite.

New York designer Biba Schutz is another one of our favorites.  Her geometric semi-precious and metal jewelry is right up our alley.  Valerie wear this open, but there is a very discreet catch so you can make the two forms into one.  Looks great both ways.

New Jersey jeweler Jill Hurant produces intricately woven gold jewelry.  What really caught our eye, however, were her amazingly textured pitch black pyrite and gold necklaces and bracelets. Some ornaments were completely smooth discs; others were scratched like magical roadways ready for paving; and still others looked like rounded lumps of coal.

The last time we saw Ohio jewelers and mixed media artists Roberta and David Williamson at LOOT at the Museum of Arts and Design, they had produced a brooch featuring a photograph of us (see that in this post) among their new collection of custom pins that can be commissioned to commemorate special events like engagements, weddings and birth announcements. We have previously featured their jewelry almost to the exclusion of their whimsical art pieces such as this colorful lamp comprised of metal children's toys and cannisters.

The show's popular raffle featured a tote bag by Toshiki that both of us lusted over.  Needless to say, despite placing multiple tickets into the appropriately marked box, neither of us had the right mojo working that day. Sniff.

Brooklyn craftsman Nick Leonoff's glass creations are colorfully light-infused and almost look like jewelry.

It is always a pleasure to view the latest one-of-a-kind Joomchi by Providence, Rhode Island paper artist Jiyoung Chung. Our paths cross not only at this show but at other events at the Korea Society. She is a multi-talented artist, painter and writer.

Mixed media artist Dakota R. Pratt with D. Redington Design in Austin, TX fashions the most fantastic creatures and objects from mermaids to table tops out of hammered bottle caps and other ephemera. The charging cell phone gives you an idea of the massive scale of this white metal emblazoned skull.

Local Philadelphia furniture artist Rachel Fuld designs and produces cabinetry, headboards, tables and chairs, shelving, objects and mirrors out of woods with a wide variety of grains and finishes.

Sue Fedenia works in basketry and mixed media to produce iconic pieces incorporating colors of the desert such as her aptly named New Mexico Night Sky. She uses reed, waxed linen and basketry techniques to craft her creations.

Judith Cohen's Seven Hills Bindery creates and produces beautifully covered photograph albums, journals and boxes that have both a modern and an "old school" appeal. She handles the spectrum from commissioned custom pieces to book repair.

Maryszka & Toshiki design leather, shearing and wool jackets and coats as well as accessories like gloves, hats and bags. We also follow Maryska and Toshiki on Instagram just to enjoy their photos from Lake Grove, New York and their travels.

Steven Ford and David Forlano's designs and semi-prescious jewelry continue to win awards. our favorites ae the simplest pieces such as this necklace.  They and a number of the other exhibitors will be showing at the Smithsonian Craft Show in April 2015 in Washington, DC.

Jean reconnected with artist Patricia Palson whom she'd met at the New Hampshire Craft Show last July.  Her handwoven jackets, coats and dresses are unique.  The textiles are colorful and the pieces of clothing all seem to have movement.

We both admired Chicago jeweler Christy Klug's Eye Candy chokers.

At just that moment, Christy appeared while we were chatting with Amy Nguyen, so we couldn't resist begging one of the passersby to take our  photo. Christy is wearing the most amazing red John Fluevog boots.

If Liz Kinder hadn't become a great potter, she could have become a great comedy writer.  (Or maybe she can just do everything??)  She had several business cards made for herself, and displayed them with her work.   This one says:
Liz Kinder at a cocktail party:
What do you do?
I'm a potter.
A what?
A potter.
A what?
Oh!  Like in "Ghost?"
Must my life be defined by a Patrick Swayze movie?

There has been a recent trend in metalsmithing toward parallelepipeds.   (That's a $5 word for three dimensional figure formed by six parallelograms.  You can look it up!  And be sure to remember it, because there will be a test at the end.)  Jera Rose Petal Lodge has taken the concept to the nth degree with this necklace.  Are you wondering if it goes all across her back, too?  It does!  All the pieces interlock, and when not modeled by the artist, stand on display like a completely different exquisite piece of work.  (Valerie wants this, just by the by.)

Another of her stunning works is an interesting juxtaposition of hard and soft.  This also stands like an independent piece of sculpture when not adorning a wrist.  (Valerie wants this too.)

Here's Reiko Ishiyama wearing one of her own pieces, also three dimensional.  She sets off her work perfectly with an Issey Miyake blouse that looks like black lacquer, and an edgy haircut.

This brooch, made of thin sheets of partially oxidized sterling, is another of Reiko's designs.  Reiko is largely self-taught, which may explain why much of her work looks so different from most work in sterling.  Reiko says she also works in paper.  She didn't bring any to the show, but we'd love to see those, too!

What is it with us with metalsmiths this time around?  Let us show you one more work in sterling, modeled by the artist himself.  This is the work of SeungJeon Paik, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design, or SCAD.  SCAD has showcased the work of its students at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show for the last several years. Here is another wonderful juxtaposition of disparate elements.   There are two sterling rings (one dark and oxidized, behind the other, lighter one) hinged together (so they're totally movable), with each ending in a carefully cut matching feather.  He calls it "wing ring".

We also had to show you the work of Betty Grob Giberson, who has a very playful sense of color and line, and whose unstructured garments flatter a variety of figures.

Jaye Houle works in pate de verre, which she occasionally often combines, amazingly, with felt.  (The blue spikes on the yellow piece behind her are made of felt.)  Pate de verre has a very interesting rough texture, made as it is of crushed glass.  Jaye show here that she infuses her work with color, movement, and subtle humor.  We couldn't help thinking that several of her works would make marvelous hats (well, color- and shape-wise, that is.)

Artists often have surprising backgrounds that inform their work.  Steve Noggle, who works in turned wood, has a degree in forestry.  We should have photographed Steve with his work.  Click here to see a selection of Steve's work that uses wood in surprising ways, taking the wood's characteristics and making them the focus of the design.

We couldn't finish this post without showing you some of the guests, many of whom were every bit as interesting as the art.

This gent's jacket used to be a pinted canvas.  There's a diamond shaped pin on his lapel that reads Art Saves Lives.  Hooray for men who have the color of their convictions (so to speak).

We met Susan Myers last year at the Craft Show.  We couldn't miss her because she carried  a bag full of Ignatius hats, one of them a huge (and we mean huge) black sinamay bow shaped hat, so large it could not be boxed, and peered out over the large shopping bag.  We mentioned this hat to her, and asked if she had ever worn it.  Before Susan could answer, her companion, whom we also met last year, assured us with great conviction that she had.  The hat Susan wears here is from England.  Be sure to look at Susan's black and white striped skirt and black and mustard bag handle.

Lastly, we had to show you this amazing cascade of gray hair.  This woman said she has lots of fun with her wonderful hair, and puts it up or leaves it down as the mood strikes her.  Not surprisingly, she said she has a large collection of decorative hairpins and barrettes so she can accomplish a number of different looks.  We asked if she would send pictures of her hair styles from time to time, and hope she does.

OK, HERE'S THE TEST, AS PROMISED.  What's the $5 word for three dimensional figure formed by six parallelograms?