I have a passion for birds. Here on Cape Cod, we are fortunate to have an abundance of bird life and birdwatchers flock to the Cape all year to catch sight of their favorite winged marvels.
In my backyard there are robins, blue jays, chickaedees, crows and Tufted Titmice along with many others.
In the woods and along the paths on the Cape you’ll see thrushes, hawks and a multitude of sparrows.
By the shore and in the marshes there are ospreys, Red-winged Blackbirds, kingfishers, gulls and Great Blue Herons.
I was not always a birdwatcher. As a youngster I used to giggle at naturalist types with their bird books, binoculars and baggy shorts. I couldn’t help but wonder what was all the fuss about birds?
Then, around about my 36th birthday, something changed. Looking back I’m not even sure how it all started, but for some reason, I began to notice the birds. It started with the red-tailed hawks. Gazing up at them as they glided far above me, I imagined the freedom of being airborne, lifted up by delicate wings and supported by the Cape Cod breezes. My eyes kept going to the skies searching for birds. My husband began to insist on being the driver when we’d go on trips because I couldn’t be trusted to keep my eyes on the road. I was truly hooked, captivated by their varied flight, identifying songs and splendid colors!
Yet this growing passion for birds presented me with a dilemma when I became a milliner. Ladies love hats trimmed with feathers, and feathers bring such elegance and playfulness to fascinators and wide brims alike. Many of my own early hat designs were trimmed with feathers that I bought from millinery suppliers. Yet as my love for the birds grew, I began to feel that those feathers that allowed these birds to soar so magnificently looked far better on them than on my hats.
After some research and a lot of experimentation, I finally came up with an alternative: silk organza feathers. Long strips of organza fabric, shaped just like real bird feathers that could be filled with wire to achieve all kinds of swirling, curving contours.
I discovered that these feathers could also be created without wire, and attached in such a way as to create a wispy, draping effect over a brim edge or peeking out from behind a rose curl. Playful, elegant, animated, just like the birds!
And the response to my unique silk “feathers” has been very positive. This Derby season I created and shipped a record number of hats trimmed with my “feathers” in a wide assortment of colors, shapes and sizes. My customers loved their dramatic effect, and best of all, the one-of-a-kind look that they achieved.
As a result I have found a way to be true to both passions, the hats and the birds. Out of a personal conviction came a creative solution and a trim design that is now a trademark for my hat company. And for those who prefer hats trimmed with the more traditional bird feathers, there are many wonderful millineries worldwide that offer these kinds of hats. There is something for everyone beneath the great hat umbrella and room for everyone to explore their creative ideas and follow their personal passions. Some may say my silk organza feathers are for the birds. And you know, they would be right!
Until next time, thank you for visiting me at Hats and Horses!