Monday, January 27, 2014

Hats for Happiness - The Little Hat Project 2014

Hats make me happy, very happy in fact, and given you're reading this blog which is about hats, I'm going to wager a guess that they make you happy too. But have you ever considered why that is? If you have I encourage you to read on, but if you haven't I especially encourage you to read on and learn about the "Hats for Happiness" campaign launched by Waltraud Reiner of Torb & Reiner!  

Meeting Waltraud, it's hard not be inspired by her passion for hats, but not just her passion for hats as an object or fashion accessory, her passion for the process making hats - the expression of creativity, the sharing of skills and knowledge and how all of this helps nourish our consciousness and soul. 

She spoke to me last week about her latest project; "Hats for Happiness" and I left feeling really inspired, so here I am about to spread the word to you about Waltraud's fantastic initiative so you can be inspired too. 

It all began on the 5 July 2013 when Waltraud was inducted into the Millinery Association of Australia's "Millinery Hall of Fame" in recognition for the contribution she has made to the millinery world, and it really is an awe-inspiring contribution! She helped establish the millinery courses at Kangan TAFE in 1994 which then informed the wider national curriculum for Certificates I - IV in Millinery, courses which have kickstarted the careers of many Australian milliners, she established the Blue Hat Project, a mental health initiative in 2005, she supported the Rotary club launch National Hat Day in 2011, she has travelled around the country for many years (Waltraud and her Hatmobile "Audrey" have travelled 60,000km around Australia since 2012 alone) sharing her skills with aspiring milliners and communities nationwide, and she has also run her own millinery supply business, Torb & Reiner since 2001.

The trophy, plus Hats for Happiness books and earings
Her trophy for the achievement was a beautiful mini-hatblock, 13 inches in circumference, and being the milliner that she is, she immediately started to fashion a freeform hat on the block out of her napkin…. and here is where the seed of an idea started to germinate, an idea which combined her prize, with her desire to help people struggling with mental health issues through hat making, an issue which has touched her personally and one in which she has long held an interest.  

The free-form hat Waltraud made from her napkin which inspired the project
So here's the idea; invite milliners to create a little hat to the exact dimensions of the hat block she received, then auction off those hats 3 months later with the proceeds going towards mental health research. She launched the idea days later and I'm sure had not anticipated the success it would be - within 2 weeks she had received the first submission, within 3 months had received 33 submissions from around the globe with entrants as far as Norway, Spain and Holland, and when the silent auction was finally held on 11th October 2013 it raised over $3000 dollars, with (after a bidding war!) over $400 raised from one hat by talented Dutch milliner, Eugenie Von Oirschot.     

The Highest Bidding Entry by Eugenie Von Oirschot of The Netherlands
Following the auction a limited edition book was published, which quickly sold out, and a series of 3D printed earrings and necklaces produced based on the design of Eugenie Von Oirschot's entry. Although the limited edition copies of the book are now sold out, other copies of the book are on sale at Torb & Reiner for $50, and sets of the STUNNING earrings are also available for $35, all proceeds going towards mental health research. I'm tempted to get my ears pierced just to buy a pair. I'm serious about this, they are that special! 

3D Printed Earings based on Eugenie von Oirschots headpiece design
Limited Editions of the Hats for Happiness Book
Catapulted from the success of 2013, Waltraud is now launching "The Little Hat Project 2014", entitled "Brainstorm" where entrants are encouraged to be inspired by the power of their brains.

To enter milliners need to make a miniature hat or headpiece using the 13 inch hat block trophy as a guide. Any materials can be used; traditional millinery fabrics, found objects or a medium which means something to you and hats should be little but wearable. Accompanying the hat should be 150 words about how your brain works and how you express it. 

Entry forms are available from or by visiting Torb & Reiner, 101 Poath Rd, Murrumbeena, Victoria 3163, and need to be submitted by 15 August 2014. 

If you can't make a hat, no fear, you can always do your part by participating in "Hat Walk for Mental Health Day" on Mon 10 March (Labour Day), which Waltraud is also organising, more details are here Phew that lady is busy! 

Waltraud Reiner, founder of the Hats for Happiness initiative
I couldn't resist getting a shot of Audrey the Hatmobile who was sat outside Torb & Reiner when I visited
The amazing Hat Mural outside of Torb & Reiner
Now when I spoke to Waltraud she was quite clear that this project wasn't about her which I appreciate, and I didn't mean to make this post about her, but here's the thing - as I started writing it became apparent that while it may be true, yes this project is about helping people though hat making, it's undoubtable that without Waltraud's passion and energy projects like this simply just wouldn't happen. So to use a cliche, "hats off" to you Waltraud! 

Daniela Eugster, Jill & Jack Millinery, Doris Madden, Gaye Lawrence, Jan Whiddon, Eugenie van Oirschot, Barbara , Natalie Maxwell, Leona Nowland, Antja Irgens, Louise MacDonald, Sherilee Honnery, Rachael Worboys, Neil Grigg, Belinda Haase, Cassandra Hill, Sonlia Fashion, Greer McDonald, Mary Hogan , Claire Reid, Johanna Guerin, Wendy Stone, Laura Gonzalez, Georgina Conheady, Richard Nylon, JD Mannington, Mandy Tripcony, Daniela Eugster, Waltraud Reiner, Lindsay Whitehead, Liana Hastie, Margaret Russell, Christine Rohr, Metta Henderson,  


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