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diane harty

Medium: Fiber

Booth #: LN41C

I stitch each and every hat myself, starting just with a strand of straw braid. I use many different types of straw of various fibers. Stitching this braid requires an antique chain stitch sewing machine fitted with attachments made for this type of hat making. This is an old technique of hat construction that dates back to the 1800s. I add a contemporary element by shaping as I stitch. I do not use any premade forms or hat blocks. I shape each hat as I stitch it together using tension with my hands. This "free-form" shaping gives each hat a unique shape, and, I feel, maintains a freshness and vitality in my work.

I approach each hat as an individual sculpture. Many of my cocktail hats reflect the light side of fashion and its capriciousness, and it's power to alter a person when it is worn. I enjoy exploring the ability of fashion to change a person by the simple act of wearing clothing or an accessory such as a hat. It causes one to travel to another part of oneself, or change one's personality without going anywhere.

I have a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, in South Asian Studies and Botany. After moving out west, still young and naive, I started making hats to sell at the farmer's markets in Missoula MT. Between ski bumming and acquiring many bicycles, I kept making hats, shifting into the straw braid after picking up the sewing machine on a visit to NYC. I haven't really looked back, as the possibilities of colors and shapes just doesn't end.

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