July 29, 2007

1900’s Poster Exhibition at the MNAC

Filed under: daily life — Cristina de Prada @ 10:56 pm

We (Peter, my brother and I) have been today to visit an Exhibiton at the National Art Museum of Catalunya. It was a spectacular collection of the first modern posters. Two Catalan collectors from the beginning of the XX century amassed a great amount of beautiful Art Nouveau posters (most of them publicity posters). It’s a perishable art, since posters once the event or the season has passed they are simply discarded and not considered as works of art at the moment they were issued.

The images are stunning, there was even a small poster for a German hat factory! The Alphonse Mucha posters are the ones best known. Those wavy hair sensual women are hard to forget, but local artists like Ramon Casas also produced some beautiful work. We were stunned by the Casas poster for a Siphilis clinic, it’s the image of a skinny sick woman (a prostitute we assume… there you go, women are always the ones to get the blame)… it’s beautiful and sad at the same time. You can see it on the website of the link above, if you scroll down on the right hand side.

The posters of a tea called RAJAH, with an oriental dressed lady sipping away her steamy tea left me with the urge to get a taste of it, but unfortunately it’s long gone and I will never get a sip. Same thing usually happens with perfumes, those old ones with very evocative names… what did they smell off? A few years ago I bought myself a bottle of the re-issued Shocking perfume of Schiaparelli, the nostalgy of glamorous times and the connection of Schiaparelli with hats was just too much to resist. It smells exotic, but it’s a bit to heady for my taste… I believe it requires one to be dressed accordingly, not a perfume to be worn with a t-shirt.

Well that’s all for now. If you come to Barcelona, be sure to go to this exhibition. It will be open until the 30th of September 2007.

July 27, 2007

People are strange … the Mokuba (bad) experience

Filed under: Coarse straw braid preshaped hat,daily life,Millinery suppliers — Cristina de Prada @ 11:37 pm


Mokuba Barcelona shop window


There you have it, the Mokuba Barcelona shop window. What you might be surprised to find out is that, not only I was not allowed to take pictures inside (apparently it didn’t matter if I spoke to the Pope himself, nobody was going to approve my taking pictures), but when I said that I would take pictures of the window from the outside, I was told NO, I could not take pictures from the street, and was told that I could be sued by the company because that is private property. The lady did not care that I wanted to say good things about Mokuba in my blog, probably didn’t know what a blog is, who knows!

So I ask… WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE?! I just wanted to write a nice article about Mokuba, tell you guys what a nice place it is and what beautiful ribbons they have, but instead here I am, letting you know how upset I am about their silly (and honestly counterproductive) attitude.

I was unfazed by all that silliness and decided to take a couple of pictures from the outside. Unfortunately nobody inside saw me, but I will make sure to send them a link to the blog. So if you don’t hear from me for a while it’s because the police have come for me.Mokuba purchase of grosgrain ribbon

Oh, and I did buy some grosgrain for the sweatband of my straw hat (that was before I asked if I could take pictures otherwise I would have bought nothing). It’s a nice golden color. As you can see they pack it really nice with a heart shaped lollypop. The logo of the shop is a rocking horse, not surprising since Mokuba means rocking horse in Japanese.

The price, 5.49 euros for 65 centimeters of grosgrain… very steep! But of course, if you buy a full spool then it becomes much more reasonable.

P.S. I just found a Spanish blogger that went to Mokuba early this month and was allowed by friendly employees to take pictures (inside and out) for her blog! See the posting here.

July 26, 2007

Tomorrow I will pay a visit to MOKUBA for some ribbons

Filed under: daily life,Millinery suppliers — Cristina de Prada @ 10:16 pm

Mokuba ribbon color 9, type 8000My straw hat is blocked and sitting on my table waiting to be finished off. The green veil I was talking about is quite damaged, so perhaps I will just put it around the crown, but not use it as a proper veil. But underneath I would like to put a nice headband, so that’s why I will be visiting Mokuba. Mokuba is a japanese ribbon maker, unfortunately as far as I know they have no website, but this japanese site has the colour cards scanned, check this beautiful grosgrain ribbon in solid colors. I know what you will say, it’s polyester!, I know, it’s polyester, but it’s ribbed so it curves beautifully to adapt to the inside of the hat and feels really nice, so I have no problems using it for the sweatband… although I admit, cotton must be better at absorbing sweat, but I just love the colors and I will stick to it. And we are very happy to have our very own Mokuba shop in Barcelona.

I hope to take some pictures (if they let me) of the shop so you can drule at home!

P.S. If you google it (Mokuba I mean) you will find a lot of rocking horses, because that’s precisely what Mokuba means in Japanese!

July 23, 2007

This e-book about making Stitched Strip Hats looks good…

Filed under: Hat book and magazine reviews — Cristina de Prada @ 10:01 pm

Click to lik to www.how2hats.com page about this ebook

I was browsing around when I saw this hat e-book, and I think when the Summer Sale comes around I will get it for myself. Last summer they had all ebooks at half price during the month of August and I didn’t buy any, so this summer I’m allowed to buy a lot!… It looks like this one shows how to make straw braid (or any other strip) hats and it could come useful because although they use a normal sewing machine the principles should be the same (I hope it doesn’t turn out that most of the hat is made by hand because I really want to learn new tips on using the machine!).

Normal price is $25, so I really hope they do the Sale again this summer.

July 22, 2007

First steps on the coarse straw hat with the green veil

Filed under: Coarse straw braid preshaped hat,Millinery projects — Cristina de Prada @ 9:04 pm

The picture on the left shows the original shape of the body. I ‘ve had it for a while and the truth is that in it’s original form it reminds me of a van Gogh painting, be it the self portrait or the one where the field workers are taking an afternoon nap.  It’s not a look that I want for me, but when I flipped the brim down something miraculous happened because it got the most beautiful cloche shape.

Straw braid hat bodystraw braid body down turned brim


Blocked crown with the blocking spring

 Don’t you agree? The downturned brim looks really great, but I don’t like the way the crown narrows on the top, so I’ve run the crown under the tap, shaken the excess water, and put it in a block. I’ve been able to use for the first time my new blocking spring (that I won at the competition of the Hatalk magazine). It’s not really a spring, more like a plastic tube, and you need to have all the different sizes because it doesn’t stretch that much.

Tomorrow I will see how I finish it off. The idea was to use a green vintage veil I have, but I’m not sure if that will work!

Veil I was (am) thinking of using

July 21, 2007

A summer veiled hat – or that’s the idea

Filed under: daily life — Cristina de Prada @ 10:47 pm

Plan of my wonderful cabinet - click to enlargeMy straw sewing machine is still in the closet because I need to clear my workroom/guestroom before moving it there. There are still a lot of boxes from when we remodelled our living room. It was a major disruption because we basically turned the living room around and put the sofa where the shelves and TV used to be, and a new cabinet where the sofa used to be. It’s much nicer now, and we owe it to flat screen TV technology, because we have a column in the middle of the room and this new arrangement would not have been possible with a regular TV.

Before we had the sofa split at either side of the column (two sofas I guess), but now we have the column cleverly (if I may say so) hidden inside of the cabinet. I’m very proud of the cabinet because I spent so many hours trying to figure it out, drawing it up, measuring, and we even did a real size mock up. To see it turned into reality (thanks to a very good carpenter, mind you), it just feels extremely good.

But back to the hats. The boxes in the workroom will take some time to get sorted, and in the meantime, well, I have to make something else otherwise I will have nothing to post!

I took a look at the summer material I have, and found a preshaped straw braid body (does look like a finished hat actually) that I bought at KOPKA (a German supplier of straw and felt hat bodies, that I highly recommend!), and that might just work nicely with a piece of vintage green veil. I will tell you more about it tomorrow!

July 18, 2007

Florine Stettheimer – Spring Sale at Bendel’s

Filed under: daily life,Millinery trivia and events — Cristina de Prada @ 8:17 pm

Spring Sale at Bendel's - partial view - click to enlarge

I have some new friends hanging on the wall. They’re on a poster from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a reproduction of Florine Stettheimer’s oil painting “Spring sale at Bendel’s”. I have never seen the original, but when I saw the reproduction I decided I had to buy it. There’s so much going on, so much movement, that the eye just flows from one character (friend) to the other, really fun and beautiful.

Funny to think that when Florine Stettheimer died in 1944 she asked that all her paintings be destroyed. Fortunately her sister (executor of the estate) refused to do it.


July 15, 2007

Arroz con leche

Filed under: Cooking,daily life,Other things I love — Cristina de Prada @ 9:22 pm

Arroz con leche

Arroz con leche is a traditional Spanish dessert, and it’s my mother’s favorite. It’s an easy dessert to make but very often it’s done badly in restaurants and at home. Done right it’s just heaven and it brings me back to my childhood.

These are the ingredients (you can halve the ingredients if you want to make less):

  • 3 liters of fresh whole milk
  • 230 grams of round rice (washed twice under the tap and drained)
  • 250 grams of caster (white) sugar
  • 2 sticks (aprox. 10 cm each) of cinnamon
  • Strips of lemon peel from one lemon (use a tomato peeler to make thin strips)
  • 50 grams of butter diced
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten and dissolved with 4 tablespoons of cold milk
  • powdered cinnamon for serving


July 14, 2007

Taking pictures of hats from the TV

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events — Cristina de Prada @ 11:42 pm

Am I the only nutter that will pick up the camera an take a picture of a hat they see on TV?

Joan Fontaine in the 1959 movie The Women - click to enlargeI

I must admit this was the first time for me, but I just found this little hat very clever and very cute, the way it’s held by a ribbon with a bow that goes around her chignon working as a kind of bandeau, the veil, and the hairdo is also spectacular.


By the way this is Joan Fontaine in the movie The Women, of which I watched only about 15 minutes (basically a scene where they are on a train), but it was time enough to spot this little perched hat.

I’ve always thought that someone (in the big studios I guess), should make a Fashion DVD with bits and pieces from all the great (or not so great) movies from the golden years. Showing little clips where we can see all the beautiful outfits and hats. Every now and then I search Amazon up hoping to find it, but so far nothing… but isn’t it a good idea? And I think there is really a market for that. The DVD could also have extras with biographies of all the great designers of the time, and I’m sure you can think of other stuff that could be included.

So, if that already exists, please let me know because I want it!

July 13, 2007

Doris loved hats

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 11:12 pm


Newspaper cut outs of hats - 1959

A couple of years ago I bought through Ebay a pink ring binder tied with a burgundy bow and filled to the rim with: 

  • Newspaper cut outs of hats, glued and classified by type of hat (Toques, Breton, Fur hats, Cloche, etc.)
  • Printed instructions on how to make hats
  • Personal notes about how to make hats
  • Samples of different kinds of bows
  • Patterns for different sort of hats

As far as I can tell it belonged to a woman called Doris, from Denver (Colorado), who took millinery classes from a lady called June Burton. That must have been in the late fifties or early sixties. What happened after she took the classes we don’t know, I would like to think that she went on to make beautiful hats, and certainly she kept on cutting out pictures and drawings of hats from newspapers and magazines. (more…)

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