Somehow, I keep finding myself making offbeat things like this: a purple top hat for a giant bunny sculpture. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And if you happen to be a hat-wearing bunny rabbit, you should be proud of who you are.
My sister Nichole made this giant bunny sculpture out of gum tree pods. His name is Frederick Alastaire Binxington III, Sr, and I keep expecting him to poop pine cones, but so far he hasn’t. Nichole decided that he should wear a top hat and bow tie to an art exhibit, and since I make hats, I offered to create one for my floppy-eared nephew.
She wanted a purple top hat, with the brim of the hat bent up on the sides, and the crown flaring out at the top. Oh, and she was taking him to the art gallery in two days. So it needed to be a “right now” kind of hat.
The hat didn’t need to be comfortable, lightweight, or even hollow, since it was going to be attached to the bunny’s head. So I took the opportunity to do some upcycling by making the brim out of an old LP vinyl record. I took it out on my screened-in porch to cut down on the amount of vinyl fumes I’d be inhaling. Then I heated the record with a lighter, and bent it to give it that whimsical shape. I trimmed it down to the size I wanted (using tin snips, since vinyl records are really hard to cut with normal scissors.)
Since Nichole wanted the crown of the hat to flare out at the top, I needed to draft some curves. I measured across the record where I wanted the crown to sit, and multiplied that measurement times pi (3.1415926). Then I added one inch for overlap, and that number = the length of the shorter arc.
I laid out some poster board, and tied a wire to my treadle sewing machine table’s leg so that I could attach a pen to the wire and draw a smooth arc on the poster board.
To figure out the length I needed the longer arc to be, I started with a measurement that was about an inch and a half larger than my first crown measurement. Then I multiplied by pi, added one inch, and that = the length of the longer arc. That meant that the diameter of the top of the crown would be about 1.5″ larger than the diameter of the crown where it attached to the brim.
Next I decided how tall to make the crown, and that measurement became the distance between the two arcs I was drawing.
I drew the two arcs on the poster board, and marked the lengths I needed on each arc. Then I drew lines to connect the ends of the two arcs, and cut the curved shape out of the poster board.
I cut a circle out of poster board that was the same size as the bigger end of my crown piece, to make the top of the hat. Then I used the two poster board pieces as templates to cut 2 pieces of purple felt that were slightly wider than the poster board, but without that one inch overlap I’d added to the curved poster board piece.
I rolled up the curved poster board piece, overlapping the ends by one inch, and taped it together. Then I taped the circle of poster board to the larger end of the curved piece with painter’s tape. That was to hold it in place while I ran a bead of hot glue along the inside seam, sort of like caulking around a bathtub. Then I removed the short pieces of painter’s tape.
Next, I glued the two felt pieces to the top and sides of the crown using Mod Podge, and let it dry. I used a barbed felting needle to felt the crown seams together, which blended the pieces of felt into one solid piece. I wanted it to look like the hat had no seams at all.
I cut two pieces of felt that were slightly larger than my bent vinyl record, and glued them to the top and bottom of the record using more Mod Podge. Then I felted those two pieces to each other all around the outside edge of the hat brim.
The crown was glued to the brim using hot glue, a purple hatband was added to the crown, and then Nichole decorated the hat according to the look she was going for. Since the bunny itself was made of gum tree pods, she continued the natural botanical theme and used plant stems and pods to decorate the hat. She added some paint and glued flat-backed gems on to the hat decorations for a little bit of shine. Finally, she gave him a matching purple bow tie.
This has got to be the most dapper bunny I’ve ever seen. He definitely turns heads everywhere he goes. I helped Nichole carry him inside the art gallery, which was kind of difficult because he’s heavy, but not nearly as bad as the last sculpture she made, which probably weighed three times as much. Clearly I still have not forgiven her.