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DECONSTRUCTED WELSH HAT

Welsh hat 2

This hat was in such poor condition that we decided to take it apart to see exactly how it was made, and what it was made of.

The structure of the hat, made of buckram strengthened with natural resin

Samples were sent to the Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textile Studies, Winchester for detailed analysis.

Samples of silk plush

The structure was made of a linen buckram stiffened with a natural resin.

The rim and top were made of several layers of buckram, while the sides of the crown consisted of just two layers.

The single piece of silk plush which covered the upper and lower surfaces of the brim.

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Welsh hat 3

The whole of the outside of the structure was covered in silk plush (rather confusingly known as beaver), consisting of strands of silk on a cotton base.

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Welsh hat 4

This was attached to the structure with a warm iron which melted the resin causing it to act as an adhesive. The joints were invisibly sewn together.

Welsh hat 5

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On many of the hats, the upper and lower surface of the brim was covered with a single piece of silk plush, carefully folded over the edge, and joined on a curve.

The lining and label from another hat

The joints on the brim and crown were hidden by brushing the silk plush over them. The joint between the brim and crown was normally covered by a ribbon.

The lining from another hat

The inside was often lined with paper and/or silk and marked with the maker's and sometimes the vendor's names.

Unfortunately, the lining is missing from about two-thirds of the surviving hats.

The technique of making Welsh hats was very similar to that of making silk top hats.

WELSH HAT