For Milliner Iliana Hristova, her Second Prize placing in the recent Mad Hatter 2022 Competition means everything. It has given her renewed confidence and inspiration to set new goals with her range of skills she has mastered in the last three years. Enjoy her journey in millinery.
What inspired you to create this headpieces titled “After the rain”?
Since I moved to UK in 2010 I quite enjoy the British weather. The island climate is always fresh. I love the feeling after the rain. I love the freshness in the air, the earthy smell of the soil, the grass, the flowers. The little rainbows sparkling within the rain drops, the tranquillity of the nature after the storm. Especially if you have been around castles gardens or some beautiful park, the feeling is amazing. Spring season is my favourite. Everything is waking up ready for new life.
How long you have been creating headwear and what do you enjoy most about millinery?
I started to learn millinery in 2019. Firstly I did a module on Summer millinery with the local milliner, Margaret Woodliff Wright in Newcastle upon Tyne. Then completed the same craft course on Winter millinery for beginners. The “love struck” was already in my heart and I began to explore more sources to learn. I followed Hat Academy and famous milliners around the world. At the same time I found an advertisement for a competition and decided to jump in the deep water as a complete novice. In December I become fourth in the Second Lincoln International Millinery Competition. I also created a hat for HaTalk e-magazine annual competition where I came second and my headpiece drew a lot of positive comments from the judges regarding the theme interpretation and the craftsmanship. Unfortunately, the pandemic started and we all know what happened since then. I also felt stuck, sad, scared for the uncertain future, but decided to put all my efforts and energy into hat making. Having all the free time in the world I worked hard. I learnt and experimented and my little brand has been born. Currently my hats and headpieces can be purchased on www.ilihats.com
Describe the vintage tools you have used to create the flowers?
For the flowers I used Bras flower making mould. It allowed me to create exactly the same pattern quicker, compared to the use of flower making iron. The tricky part was reaching the same temperature and pressing without burning each flower.
What is your preferred silk for making flowers?
I prefer 100% raw silk. I do shop mainly from craft websites in UK or local shops in Newcastle usually silk dupion or habotai pure silk. For the competition hat, I decided to upcycle an unworn shirt from my mother in law. This was a silk produced in Bulgaria during the seventies, when farming silk culture was a wide spread tradition, existing since the Byzantine empire. In the area where I am born, the Thracian Valley, people used to grow a lots of mulberry trees and cotton plants for the textile industry. Nowadays unfortunately this is one of the disappearing traditions. The crispy look of the flowers comes exactly from silk filaments weaving. For stiffening I used water based millinery stiffener from Parkin Fabrics, diluted as per bottle instructions.
The feature is your hand painted silk butterfly. How did you learn this painting skill?
I have loved to draw since a very young age. Watercolour painting, ink, silk drawing. The basic silk painting techniques I learned from a book years ago, when we moved to Scotland and I had a lot of time and inspiration. The technique is called batik and I used to draw on silk scarves. Now I have applied the same technique using just a small cardboard frame and Marabou silk paints. The butterfly I fixed onto a small thermoplastic sheet. What is my little secret? I love to watch cosplay clips on YouTube.
What was the biggest challenge when creating this headpiece?
The biggest challenge was how to fix the butterfly and to create a floating airy look. The silk is thin and airy, so there was no room for errors.
What does win mean to you personally?
Being a winner in the 2022 Mad Hatters Society competition means so much to me on so many levels. It’s a great confidence booster that what started as a hobby turned out to be something I can really progress at. It feels really rewarding having what I created met with such high regard especially by people who have so much expertise. I feel motivated and energised to set new goals, try new techniques and create hats using the resources from the prize and the skills I’ve developed creating my entry hat.
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