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this project took on a life of its own with cataract surgery and unable to use the black lizard skin we originally decided on--could not see well enough, then the first snake skin was partially finished and our young dog chewed it--my fault for not putting it out of reach, and the third start was taking time as too soft a leather to cut easily and had to dismantle a hat to use as a pattern, then reassemble in between eye strain and try to get the belly scale pattern on front, back and top to line up, then be sure all the variegated metal leafing had not been knocked off as sealer couldn't go on until adhesive used to attach the python to the backing had dried but got done just in time. Scratch making a bucket hat from my bucket list. It was a challenge but it worked. I learned a lot.

I offered to make a memento of our local open mike poetry group for a young rapper who had been coming weekly and was leaving soon. The black lizard in the last pic would have been easier to use with the original plan but I only managed to get this piece cut before the surgery. I didn't realize trying to cut the small and irregularly shaped skins would be impossible after the first eye was done. But I made a promise and was unable to do much else. I had trouble reading and managed with taking off my glasses for the other eye to do close up work. One advantage to being nearsighted was close work was possible without magnification. once I found I could manage to work with the snake skins--lighter colored and flat, I restarted He seems pleased and the crowd seemed to think it worked under the stage lights. The black with gold tipping and a black trim band would have been classier I think especially off stage but speed bumps altered plans. Done just in time, I put the sealer on the night before. A true one of a kind never to be repeated experience. If anyone asks for one, I'll tell them how I did it and where to buy the skins and gilding leaf.

The lizard was done with hot stamp foil and a small craft iron. The scale pattern is raised enough and the epidermis hard enough that the short heat time didn't affect the skin. The snake did not handle it well so switched to imitation gold leaf and variegated metal leaf. Not hard as any leaf that falls off can be saved and used to fill in spots. A tacky adhesive that goes on white and is ready to use when clear, then slide the leafing into place, press down gently, then either a soft brush, fleece, soft cloth to brush off the edges and extra bits, burnish down a bit and seal. the scale pattern still shows and the spots in between where it didn't take the leafing give contrast and prove it is real snake, not embossed and that it is not painted.
If I had to do it again, I'd cut and attach the skin to the backing first, dye the background a contrasting color and then put on the gilding for more of the same effect as the black lizard. The test piece warped the soft skin enough that trying to do so before getting on the backing wasn't feasible. I was using a water base glue for that part in case of errors so I could get it off if I had to, used e6000 to put backing together but attempting to dye the skin with the water based glue might have loosened it enough to slip.

Frustrating but was rewarding overall. If I can make a bucket hat with only one nearsighted eye working and do even this less than great job, I have more confidence now to tackle some of the other projects on my list. A molded case for my smart phone covered with some dark red lizard and un gilded black patchwork should be a piece of cake. My eye has recovered enough to now be useable and scheduled in about 10 days for the other. Will be faster recovery as the first needed a more extensive procedure. I'm happy to trade a few weeks of really odd vision and using reading glasses for close up work for a brighter, clearer world. Things were more sepia toned than I had realized. Some old projects I thought were fairly decent in color will be redyed.

If I had had another few days, I think I could have done a much better job. Next hat for myself will be an engineer's cap and I have plenty of time. I also intend to try using some heat moldable fabrics for the underlayer. First test pieces worked out fairly well. I have Fosshape, kobracast and worbla to try. I did use craft foam for part of the form I assembled to check pattern pieces but did not like the feel of it to use for the underlayer. The other materials are being used for making costumes, LARP, hats, and more. Available at http://www.cosplaysupplies.com and may be useful alternatives to kydex. I am also going to try using friendly plastic pellets as molds for customized cuffs and hardening leather over them.







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This is dbanks I have many lizard skins and I would like to have a hiphop hat made from my lizard skins. How can I reach you.

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dbanks, I'll send you a private message with my email if you wish to contact me.

To do it yourself, I suggest NOT doing it the way I did. My printer was also out so I could not download and print a pattern. I had hoped to be able to take wide blue painters tape and tape off the hat with several layers on each part and then cut off to make a pattern as was suggested in one article I found on copying clothing. But the damn tape wouldn't stick well enough to what I suspect was waterproofing. I used a craft felt with adhesive backing that stuck well enough to be able to trim to size and still had enough stickiness to hold the skins while I trimmed. But thicker than I wanted as a liner.

I'd suggest getting a pattern, I did find some bucket hat patterns online that were adult size, may be able to find the link a bit later and will pm you with it. And then realized the printer wasn't working.

Since stitching or lacing was going to be even worse with my vision limits the first week and I didn't really want either showing, I used a stiff craft 'felt' that was more like a stiff interfacing and had enough porosity to get some air flow both for drying the adhesives and comfort wearing. If I am going to do anything like this again, I'll probably get some non woven interfacing from a fabric or quilt shop, use a pattern and possibly select a fabric for a lining. Cut the interfacing first and use pins or double sided tape to assemble and be sure it will fit the way you want. Glue or sew the leather to the interfacing with the seam allowance left from the pattern and if using a lining sew or use a fusible seam tape to hold to the liner, and then sew or glue the seam allowance. Being able to glue the leather to the interfacing before doing any dying if you wanted helps keep it from shifting shape. Even the adhesive was temporarily cause it to swell a bit and distort but on drying went back to shape quite well.

Had I been able to see the original black lizard, when I first laid out the pieces, I would have been able to get the curves for the brim out of the sides of the belly/back but in 4 pieces instead of 2, did cut the top piece from the center and the side pieces were going to be made from a contrasting dark red, I think one skin would have given me the 2 pieces or perhaps again cut into 4 pieces. Without the belly scale pattern to contend with it was easier to lay out without being concerned with matching up the scale pattern as much. A patchwork would probably work out fairly well. I considered making a patchwork of red and black for the brim if needed to prevent cutting another skin.

I had intended to dye the underside of the brim black but the thin non woven material I used on the underside didn't take it well--didn't have fabric dye and leather dye didn't look good. But I did have a lot of the heat transfer foil and that didn't take too long to put on and the gold underside complemented the rest.

I left a slight gap between the leather of the brim and the side pieces as getting that right with the thickness was going to be a pain and I did intend to use the black trim. I wasn't sure if I would need to do that with the top but by putting the leather on top first and the side pieces after with enough extra, managed to cut it closely enough that touching up the gilding hid the edge. If I'd had more time I was planning on trying a rolled edge with some thin black lambskin but this worked well enough.

It doesn't have the usual bucket hat floppy feel, I offered ostrich but he chose the lizard. Ostrich probably would give the floppy look. Gilding leaf might not take that too well. The hot stamp foil will also transfer with the leafing adhesive and has a built in sealer that adds durability, there's a guy on ebay who sells rerolled foil in a variety of colors, holographics, metallics. not expensive, just a lot of fiddling around work. The lizard could probably take the short bit of heat needed to use a regular clothing or a small craft iron. That worked on the black lizard and some pale blue that I put some holographic oil slick pattern on.

WIth the lizard it might be possible to get by with a much simpler method if you don't care much about how the interior looks or feels. Just butt the edges together, perhaps a rolled edge in between and use some thing soft enough on the inside to hold the edges together, a soft leather, possibly just an interfacing material and adhesive. The edge of the brim was smooth enough I simply touched it up with a copper metal paint pen.

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