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Topic: Steampunk Paper Top Hat - Recycled Book Project, with how-to - Pic Heavy!  (Read 13264 times)
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« on: June 30, 2012 12:40:07 PM »

Last year my library system hosted a staff Creative Book Recycling Competition.  Libraries have tons of books that get damaged and must be taken out of circulation every day, and one of my favorite things to do is turn them into something else!  For the competition last year, I made a humongous wreath out of a Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (with red-and-gold Gryffindor ribbon and a golden Snitch) and won first place.
This year, I knew the competition was going to be stiffer, so I decided to think outside the box.  I always have a healthy supply of Harry Potters, but this time I happened to have a beautiful (although damaged) copy of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  It won a Caldecott award for its vast supply of beautiful illustrations, and all the pictures of trains, clockwork, and keys, as well as the vintage theme, just screamed Steampunk to me.

And what says Steampunk better than top hats?  

There was only one problem:  I had no idea how to make a top hat out of a book.
I could find pirate hats made out of newspaper and stovepipe hats made out of construction paper, but that wasn't really what I was going for.
I found a crude guide at http://www.childrensart.info/paper-top-hats/, and that got me started.
I also looked at lots.  And lots.  And lots of steampunk hats on Google Images.  But I still had to make up most of the process myself.  So, every time I needed to try something, construction-wise, I tried it with scrap paper first.  Then, if it worked, I used my book pages.
Also good to know:  whenever I penciled on guide markings, I drew on the wrong side of the paper.  That way, if a mark wouldn't erase cleanly later, I didn't have to worry too much about it showing.

Materials Used:
1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
1 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
small craft blade
scrapbooking glue (because it had a handy dual applicator, but probably could have used craft glue)
crepe paper streamers
2 metal paper fasteners, aka "brads"
20-gage floral wire, gold (leftover from the snitch)
wire cutter with rounded plier end (to shape wire)
pencil with eraser
scratch paper
stain (black tea and some spray stuff from the craft store)

Step 1.  Get your book pages.  
Using a small craft blade, I cut out a ton of pages from a trusty, old copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, wherein Harry and Ginny... well, you know.  I then carefully cut out the pictures I wanted to use from Hugo.  I also took some pages from Hugo that were flat black.  I figured early on that they could come in handy, and later on I figured out what I wanted to do with them.  This is a good time to figure out your general design for your hat, but you can always improvise later.

Step 2.  Give your paper that vintage look.  
I crumpled everything except for my pictures.  Twice.  I like my pages nice and crumply.  I pretty much do this for all my book crafts.  It just makes the paper look nice and weathered, and it makes it more like fabric, just easier for me to deal with.  I then stained all of the white paper with black tea.  The tea I had on hand was a blackberry spice, and so my hat smells really delicious!

You can crumple your paper after staining.  Whatever works for you.  Be aware that staining will warp your paper, so if you don't want to crumple at all, you will need to research paper stretching or alternative stain methods.  Let everything dry before proceeding.

Step 3.  Pretend your paper is fabric.  
For this step, you don't want to cut blindly into your pretty, stained paper.  I made a sort of pattern out of scratch paper and still had to make some changes to my final design.  I started gluing my pages together to form big sheets of paper before starting to cut the basic shape of my hat.  
You will need three basic parts:  An oval brim, an oval top, and a rectangular crown.

Since I wanted my hat to have a wider top than base and a little shape to the sides, I started with the ovals and rectangle and tweaked them a little.  I knew, for example, that my pages were going to line up vertically to form the crown of the hat, but they were going to have to fit at an angle in back in order to make the top wider.  So I glued all of my pages tilting a little this way or that, so that I would have my text tilting all the way around instead of just at the back seam.  After drying, I held the long sheet around my head to get an idea of where the back seam of the crown would need to overlap to create the right shape.  I penciled along the edge to help me keep everything in line once I took it off my head.  I also marked at my temples and just behind my ears so that I could create a little curve in the brim just over my ears.  I penciled in the curve and then cut.  (Don't forget to erase any leftover pencil marks!)  Do not glue the final seam of the crown yet; leave it flat.

The brim was easy.  I tied a string around my head, then laid it out on my sheet of scratch paper and traced the oval.  I added an even space all the way around that oval to create the width of the brim.  Then I added an extra half-inch (~1 cm) inside the inner oval to allow a joint.  I cut along the outer line, then the innermost (3rd) line.  I checked to make sure my edges were even and symmetrical, then traced this onto my good paper, which was two layers thick, and cut out my final brim.  Then I went around the inner oval of the brim, cutting perpendicularly up to the middle line every half-inch (~1 cm) or so, to create a series of tabs.  The tabs get glued to the crown of the hat later.

The top of the hat.  I tried to make a template for the top of the hat, but since I just manually lined up the crown to the shape I liked, rather than measuring it all out, what ended up working the best was paperclipping the crown into shape and turning it upside-down over a double-thick sheet of pages.  I traced the oval, cut it out, then fit it into the crown, about a half-inch (~1 cm) inside from the top to make sure it fit, see where it needed trimming, etc.  Then, I went back to cutting the crown: small tabs, about a half-inch (~1 cm) long and a half-inch (~1 cm) wide, all the way along the top edge of the crown.

Still needed a little rounding-out.  You can see the crown in back, the brim to the left, and the top of the hat front-center.

Step 4.  Assemble your pieces.  
Depending on your details, you may wish to glue them on before or after you put the three main parts of your hat together.  I knew I wanted some vertical features and some lacing, and those are easiest to put on the crown while it is still flat.

I made four vertical bands out of the black paper.  I gave two of them (Bands A and B) an extra strip to wrap over the ribbon I would add later.  I tried them with scratch paper first and used that as a guide.  Once the bottoms of the strips were glued to the backs of their bands, I used a pin to poke a hole near the top of each strip.  I would poke brads through the holes later.

I also poked several holes in a row along the right side of Band A and the left side of Band B.  These holes allowed me to lace a string through them.  I made a paper string out of crepe paper streamers.  I just took a length of crepe paper and twisted, twisted, twisted it until it looked like twine.  I laced it between Bands A and B, gluing here and there on the backs of the bands to help keep the lacing straight.  

Once that was all dry, I positioned the bands at the center of the crown and paperclipped them on.  I estimated where the two plain bands would need to go and tried them on as well.  Once those all looked good, I glued them down.  While everything was drying, I positioned the other details to see how everything would look together.  Because I wanted some pictures to overlap the ribbon, and the ribbon would have to be tied onto the crown after it was made 3-dimensional, I saved a couple pictures to glue on after the hat was all together.  (E.g., the large clock on the right side of the hat, you can clearly see in the rear view pic further down, has an all-gray back, so I left the edges unglued and visible.)

I love this picture.  It looks like a face, doesn't it?

I noticed that there were some small gaps between the vertical bands and the top edge of the hat, so I made a couple hinge-like pieces out of leftover black paper and sprayed them with this metallic stain I had on hand.

After all this was dry, the crown FINALLY became a cylinder!  I glued the seam shut, holding it in place with paper clips until dry.  Then I glued the tabs at the top of the crown to the underside of the top of the hat.  To keep everything in place, I had to do this in 3 or 4 sessions, weighing down the tabs while they dried.  Then I glued the brim to the crown, holding the whole brim in place with a few paperclips.  Again, I did this in a few sessions so that I could paperclip down each tab while it dried before glueing another section of tabs.

Step 5.  Finish.  Finally!  Everything else is details.  I wrapped crepe paper streamers around the hat as a ribbon, then did it again for a fuller look.  I made a big, gift-style bow in back with long tails to hang down.  I pushed 2 brads through the holes in the strips on Bands A and B and glued down the other pictures.  I made several wire curlicues and glued them underneath the ribbon on one side.  I creased, then glued on, the hinge pieces at the joints between the bands and the top of the hat.

A pretty bow always adds a feminine touch, don't you think?

And it's done!

From the left.  I didn't fit it to my head with my hair done, so it's a little high up.

From the right.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012 12:41:39 PM by AngelProjekt » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2012 02:16:51 PM »

HOLY CRAP! This is awesome! I would have never thought to make a hat out of a book! This rocks!  Hope you win your contest!

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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2012 06:12:06 PM »

I love this!  How does the average joe like me get their hands on damaged books?  I love them all too much to ruin them, but if they've already been damaged, I might be able to bring myself to cut one up....

« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2012 09:18:04 PM »

Thank you for your comments.  Smiley

Hm, finding old books... I would start with the attic. Grin  Then, thrift stores and garage sales, then used book stores and eBay.  You can try calling your local libraries (school and public) to see if they can give away their damaged books, but I know in our county we can't give them to the public.  We do have Friends of the Library book sales, however, and although we don't typically sell books that are in poor condition, they are all at least used.
If all you can find are still in decent condition, try to find a used book you've been wanting to read.  Maybe by the time you are done with it, it will have fallen apart.   Tongue
Also, if you don't mind the strangers aspect, you could also post a request on Craigslist.  Someone out there is just waiting for an excuse to get rid of their old books - trust me!  They might even give them away for free!
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2012 10:13:17 PM »

Thank you so much for your advice!  My problem is that even books at thrift stores etc....just can't bring myself to cut into them!  Tongue  But I will try my local library, and I will check craigslist and so on.  Perhaps one of these days I will find a book that I can find it in me to destroy!  Wink

« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2012 07:00:48 PM »

Forgot to let y'all know... I tied for 3rd place.  Someone made a TABLE AND LAMP out of encyclopedias!!

I had some really great competition, but I am really proud of my finished product.
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2012 07:19:59 PM »

Wow this is wonderful great job
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2012 01:03:01 PM »

Oh my goodness! That is the coolest thing I've ever seen!

I can't believe how perfectly you got the shape and the bow on the back is perfection. Amazing.
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2014 07:14:08 PM »

This is quite awesome.  Love the detail.
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2014 08:58:33 AM »

it's beautiful

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