Top of the Squirrel to you!

A few months back I was proposed with a fun and clever design for a commission piece.  The liaison between myself and the designer was a friend who I’ve done work for in the past.

And the individual who wanted this item?  A young man slated to start the seventh grade this Fall.  A talented and creative mind, no doubt, this little guy has no idea how much I appreciate getting projects like this.

Here are the sketches I was provided:

I was nervous about sourcing a boy’s top hat at first, until I noticed that this kid is a size 7 & 3/8 which is a full-grown adult sized head. Must be all those big thoughts he’s having.  I ordered the proper topper (I have yet to possess the facilities or training to make a top hat from scratch, which is why I hesitate to call myself a “milliner”) and went about fitting a squirrel form into the proper position.  Here it is, broken into several pieces and pinned into place:

After getting the placement and angles of the bits and bobs all sorted out, I secured with glue, pins, wire, and slim wedges of foam inserted into gaps for reinforcement.  After that comes the clay to smooth things out.  I then had to determine the contact points at which the squirrel would meet the hat and anchor some wires at those spots:

Maneuvering the skin over this form, wires and all, proved a challenge but in the end came  out just peaches.  Here are shots of the finished product:

I recreated the sketch to the best of my ability; due to the squirrel’s size it does occupy a tad more real estate on the hat itself but I think that’s OK.

I’m actually quite proud of this red ribbon- I made that bow myself!

Also, this squirrel was a female!  Almost all the squirrels I have ever skinned were male; I just assumed they were the ones being brazen enough to get hit/killed/shot/etc.  I forget how this one perished; I think it was a fall from a tree or something but I almost wonder if she got shocked on an electric line because a teeny patch of her skin was bare of fur and the area surrounding is was slightly discolored.

And that’s hat!

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3 thoughts on “Top of the Squirrel to you!

  1. I love this, and love that the client is a teenaged boy. Had I met a fellow wearing this on first day of junior high, I’d have fallen hopelessly in love. Would it be hideously gauche of me to ask how much this sort of piece would cost?

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