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Mad Hatter Tea Party

Written by: Susan Bates

Join Marcia Martinez March 24th for a madcap adventure into millinery in all its wondrous forms—and have a cup of Darjeeling while you’re at it. Whether you fancy a fifties pill box or a trendy fedora, Marcia has the wherewithal to find the perfect style to put a spring in your step and a smile on your face. “My main goals are customer satisfaction and artistic integrity,” she shares. Clients, whether they be men, women, or children, have unique needs and wishes, and I have the skills, trims, and materials to conjure up whatever their hearts desire.”

Marcia comes from a long line of fabric artists and fashioned her first calico quilt at the tender age of four. “I would have done it earlier, but my foot couldn’t reach the sewing machine treadle,” she jokes. Lotus Millinery started as a necessity and quickly became a passion. “I wasn’t able to find hats I wanted to wear, so I decided to design my own,” she explains. Soon, friends and family were requesting headgear for everything from casual wear to formal attire, and she was off to the races.

With her background in fabric arts, creating a convincing exterior was child’s play, but the fine finishing required specialized training. A City and Guilds qualification offered in the UK was just the ticket to gain the required expertise. The program was grueling and intensive. Marcia elaborates, “You meet with your tutor via Skype and have to document your millinery process. In a number of instances, I had to take hats apart to demonstrate exactly how I put them together. While exasperating, the mastery of each step was essential to becoming proficient at the age-old art.” The results speak for themselves.o.

This beguiling black fascinator complete with bows, a rose, and feathers is a surefire showstopper with star power.

Marcia’s alluring fur felt coral cloche, featuring a hand-sewn pearl and sequin floral appliqué, is a dazzling head turner with a touch of class.

This feminine fedora in azure wool felt is a feast for the eyes. Trimmed with pale pink satin ribbon and an eye-catching jewel in shades of sea green and cobalt blue, this elegant hat is designed to impress.

While Marcia’s hats are indisputably impressive, the burning question involves the milliner’s methodology. Just how does one go about crafting a headpiece? Take this hot pink sunhat for instance. It all starts with a sturdy pliable fabric such as sinamay. “You generally need two or three layers, and then you steam them until they magically adhere,” reveals Marcia. “Next you stretch the fabric over a wooden form until it dries. Finally, you fold over the edge and sew it into place.”

Hat blocks, the mainstay of millinery, come in all shapes and sizes and can be commissioned to any design specification. Marcia has acquired a fairly large collection over the past couple of years, primarily from Australia, England, and France.

Her studio shelves are lined with the vestiges of former designs and satisfied customers. But what really gets Marcia going is the trims. “If I see a trinket, I’ll figure out a hat to put it on,” adds Marcia. “I just got back from New York, and I had so much fun buying bits and pieces of things I just can’t get around here.”

The proud owner of Lotus Millinery comes across like a kid in a candy store. She plays with colour and texture and revels in the delight of creating a hat from inception to completion. “If I can dream it, I can make it,” she grins. Her positive energy attracts a host of clients and commissions. In fact, two Beaumont artists stopped by during our brief interview to place their orders. Why? “Because the right hat gives you that extra jolt of confidence,” explains Marcia. While this is certainly a factor, Marcia’s enthusiasm and integrity make her the go-to person for hats in Metro Vancouver.

Don’t miss the Mad Hatter Tea Party at 326 W. 5th Avenue, Studio 3 on March 24th from 4-8pm. Enter Studio 3 through the lime green door!

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