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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