Friday, March 19, 2010

Hubbs has a hat fetish

Hubbs has a hat fetish. My favorite is his top hat. This fondness of hats has rubbed off on me… and now together we have way too many hats and need a fun way to present them. About the only place I can see putting them on display is on the wall by the back door. I’m envisioning a series of ‘hooks’ made out of pipes that fit with the crude industrial/urban direction I want to see the kitchen move toward. I’m planning to install several ‘knobs’ (9, to be exact) protruding from the wall, made out of plumbing pipe sections, angles, and flanges. I’m debating making some sort of cushioned pad or covering that the hat can sit on. I plan to hang two hats on each hook, and even then I’ll have to stash some hats away in the closet.

Oh, before I take you on a hat rack ride, I thought I’d throw in more details of the Nemo Room to keep you interested in that project. The picture to the left shows the corner detail, made of 4” pvc pipe elbows, ¼” mdf borders, and several wooden carpenter’s buttons, acting as rivets. I started by attaching all the pipes and borders to the wall and painting them the same dark purple-brown color as the wall. I used the Sherwin Williams’ color called ‘Browse Brown’. The rivets were spray-painted gold as a primer coat. After they were glued in place, I painted a coat of Browse Brown over them, quickly rubbing a worn spot on the center of the raised dot. This gave it an aged, rusty patina, but suggesting there might be metal underneath that dark color. Then I smeared some cheap brown craft paint (Americana ‘Bittersweet Chocolate’) around all the cracks, edges, and details to make it appear to have built up a layer of grime. I know, one doesn’t usually desire that dirty effect in your home… but this is different. The second picture shows our column, decked out in rivets that haven’t been grimed yet. See the difference? I feel it’s too flat and plain without the added shading, which I plan to do soon. You might think it’s cleaner before the extra treatment, but that's not the point here. This room came straight out of the 1860’s, and it’s surely going to look like it, if I have anything to say about it! In looking around the room, there are more untreated rivets than I was aware of. I’ve got several hours of work ahead of me, just dirtying up the rest of them.

Now, back to the hat rack. I can’t believe I’m showing you this, but the above picture is what the wall looked like before I put the brush to it. Yikes! This is like an embarrassing tattoo that I should keep covered, but now I’ve just dropped my drawers and exposed it! In it’s day, I’m sure it was fashionable to deck the kitchen out with pictures of apple pies and coffee pots. Since this used to be my husband’s grandmother’s home, it comes with these quaint little dated features. Thankfully, we are changing and covering these features one by one. Using a gallon of Home Depot ‘oops’ paint that I got for a steal (which was an interesting color that I might have chosen anyway), I was able to eliminate the ugly wallpaper pictures with two coats.

I have accumulated all the necessary materials and am ready to begin. Because our ceiling is angled, I like the idea of staggering the hooks rather than put them on straight horizontal lines. I will make 5 hooks in one area by the back door, and two more hooks over each of two doorways nearby, so they will all be in a reasonable proximity, feeling pretty much like a grouping. The installation of these pieces is proving to be very easy. I am working with ½” sized plumbing materials. Each knob is made up of two floor flanges, a 45 degree elbow, a wooden plaque/plate, and a 5” and 3” piece of threaded pipe sections. It is necessary to use anchor inserts to reinforce the wall where the base flange attaches.

Now, where I’ll complicate this project (because, you see, I must!) is in the ‘heads’ of each knob. I started off simply wanting to paint the wooden plaques so they wouldn’t look unfinished. I know myself pretty well though. If I painted them, I may be tempted to say 'That's close enough, they look sorta finished. They won't show anyway, with hats on them'. Then I wouldn't get around to the finishing touches that will really make them more unique and com-PLEEETE-ly completed. But now I have more incentive to stay on track. I have you watching! So I've left them raw, and here’s the plan. While these plaques look decent enough like they are, what I really want to do it cover each of them with a plush ‘cushion’, covered in fabric. The cushions may have to be made of several different sizes to accommodate the different hats. I’m assuming so, specifically because the top hat covers almost the entire fixture and none of the cool pipe shows. So that fixture will get a particularly tall cushion. The rest may be half that size.

After putting some thought into the cushion heads, I have decided to construct walls out of layers of poster board thickness. Just between you and me, it won’t really be poster board, but rather flexible boxes from frozen dinners and pizza boxes. (Reduce, reuse, recycle, repeat!) With enough layers of board glued around in circles, it becomes quite strong. It’s the same concept as fusing wood in the bentwood rocker concept. Enough layers will result in plenty of strength. Then the poster board ‘box’ gets a lid and a generous wrap of batting and then a tightly fitting layer of fabric. I’m sure the fabric covering will require a lot of hand-sewing. I wouldn’t expect anything less! I’m not sure how I’ll attach the cushion to the wood plaque yet, but I may decide to include a drawstring edge for easy attaching and removal. Hmmm, here’s what happens when I talk it through before starting. I raise the bar… look out! Now I feel the basic cushion should be covered with a tough ticking or denim that’s more permanently fixed… and then the nicer cover that will be seen should have the drawstring and can be removed for laundering. Yep, each cushion must be covered twice! Sounds reasonable! Remind me again… what was so wrong with the plain wooden plaques?

I think I’ll give it a rest for now and tackle these covers later. Uh oh, that's how started projects never get finished. Well we'll see about that... Ciao!


  1. Reminiscent of “The Runaway Bride” with the way plumbing supplies were used in making industrial looking lamps. Very creative. I have some “coat hooks” made out of old-fashions crystal doorknobs mounted on a short length of board. I wanted to make it from scratch, like you’re doing with the hat hooks, but by the time I priced all the pieces, including the antique doorknobs, it had grow too expensive. Instead I bought the completed coat hooks from Cracker Barrel. Looks the same, just a lower quality.
    Your Aunt Chris from Yuma suggested I read your blog. Very interesting, and very funny. ADD!

  2. You go girl! Loved the 'before' pics on the start of your garden creations and can't wait to see some 'after' shots.