The Happy Hat Connection

Listing image

Afghan Tribal Arts on Etsy

Sometimes paths in life cross in the most unexpected ways!  And, it can be so much fun!  We had the hat above listed on Etsy.  Most people who buy these older accessories or garments use them as decorative items, but Michael Brodeur bought it because he wanted to wear it. How disappointing for him when the package arrived and the hat didn’t fit!  I make a big effort to measure things correctly when working on the listings, but somehow this one was off.  I told him that he could return the hat for a full refund or we could approach one of TAFA’s members, Heather Daveno, to see if she would be willing to make it work for him.  Heather specializes in making hats inspired by world cultures.  She uses recycled materials and I was sure she would be able to make it work.  The question was whether she would have the time…  She did!

Heather DavenoHeather Daveno

Michael gave her free reign on how to go about it.  Heather said she felt a few moments of terror when she took the first cut into the piece but then it all went ahead smoothly.  She chose a linen background on which she mounted the pieces.  You can read her notes on her Facebook page about the following steps:

Alteration steps

Heather did a beautiful job in keeping the integrity of the piece, making the new and old come together cohesively, successfully altering the sizing as needed, and adding her own signature elements (tassel and label).  Now Michael has a hat with a story and two new friends! (me and Heather!)  Check out the inside before and after:

inside hat

kufi top view

These skull caps are used in Afghanistan by both boys and men, often with a turban wrapped around them when travelling.  The embroidery style serves as a calling card or village identifier as each region has techniques unique to that area.  If you look closely at the image below, you will see the caps peeping through at the base of the turbans:

tumblr_lv2erww38f1qjtdngo1_1280 (1)Khulm Cereal Market, Afghanistan (The Grand Bazaar)

Although Michael is a creative, free spirit, it’s unlikely that he will be doing the turban look…   The true test would come when Michael would open the package bearing his hat for the second time: would he like it?  Would it fit?  Here’s how it went down: “When it arrived, I immediately opened the box. I really liked the design and the added fabric and its color. But when I tried it on: happiness!

We were all happy!  I had made the sale for Abdul (so, he was happy, too!), Heather made a new connection and had a sale, and Michael may have had to pay more than he anticipated, but he has one cool hat that nobody else in the world can copy!  And, whew!  Doesn’t it just look great on him?!!!

kufi side viewMichael Brodeur

I love it when these serendipitous moments happen in life!  Strangers find common ground and the world becomes a bit more friendly.  Plus, there are all of the great historical and cultural connections happening here, too.

This is also what I hope to see happen with TAFA more and more as we build bridges among the members, learn what the skills are that can be tapped into, and use each other as resources.  Both Heather Daveno and Afghan Tribal Arts are TAFA members.  Now they have one shared experience outside of the organization. Hopefully, it will be the first of many more to come!  I hope that this happy story also inspires those of you who might not know exactly what to do with vintage textiles or ideas that you might have.  Just ask us and if we can’t help you, hopefully we can point you to someone who can!

Visit Heather Daveno’s profile on TAFA.  (Click!)  Heather has many hats that are finished and available for purchase.  She is also open to more commission work, normally needs a lead time of four to six weeks, and prices can vary between $75-$250, depending on the complexity of the job.  Here is one of Heather’s hats:


Michael Brodeur is Associate Professor in studio art (foundations, painting and drawing) at Furman University, Greenville SC. He was born in Claremont, NH and graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in art. He earned an M.F.A. in painting/drawing from Boston University where he studied with Philip Guston.  Visit his blog for his links, images of his work and his artist’s statement.  Here is one of his paintings:

Brodeur -Every Boy's Dream (dedicated to Ennis del Mar)- oil on canvas 48- x 36- 2006Every Boy’s Dream by Michael Brodeur

How about you?  Have you had any experiences like this where something was transformed for you?  Share your stories with us!

kufi tassel view

The Happy Hat!

2 responses to “The Happy Hat Connection”

  1. gavin mayhew says:

    Hi. I am a bald headed artist who needs hats for all weather. I lovethe hats shown on your site and wondered how much you would charge or even swap for a painting. I am well known for my unusual hats. Thanks. Gavin

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