In the Design: A Master At Work

In 2020, Craft (an Australian association that supports, presents and produces craft and design-focused creative practices) began a collaboration with videographer Mark Newbound on a series of short films about different makers. Last week, he released one featuring Australian milliner Louise Macdonald upcycling a straw hat.

I had the pleasure of working with Louise last fall while producing a month-long education series for the British Millinery Association. And I truly do mean pleasure- she is a lovely person, a gifted instructor and a millinery master.

12 thoughts on “In the Design: A Master At Work

  1. This is an absolute joy to watch!

    Ms. MacDonald works with such dexterity and certainty, which you can see comes from many years of experience. Such respect for the materials, and exquisite attention to detail. Masterful!

    And beautifully filmed, too.

  2. Mesmerizing! All that handwork — Wies, how many hours would this take? I will have to check out Mark Newbound’s other videos.

    The word “upcycling” gets bandied about a lot recently, but in this case, it’s very appropriate. What a beautiful hat.

  3. HQ, thanks for the great video! What a miraculous transformation from the old to new – I’d love to see more Royal hats go through this process. There are so many tucked away beauties that could be resurrected when placed in the right hands, like those of Louise Macdonald.
    Questions:
    1. What is the liquid that was painted on the crown? Something to add sheen and/or protection?
    2. Where is her studio located – close to a music school perhaps? She’s on the 8th floor in downtown Melbourne, so working in an environment where choral/instrumental music comes wafting up from below would be heaven for me!
    3. Thanks to this post, I’m now watching other Mark Newbound videos – not a bad rabbit hole to fall into on this cold, grey day.

    • Hi Jimbo,
      Stefanie, I hope it’s okay if I answer this?
      The liquid is stiffener; it can be chemical or water based.
      Louise has her studio in the historical Nicholas building. I understood it is an artist community.

      And while I’m here: look at the finesse of the straw. It is a parabuntal which isn’t being made any more, (handwoven you know). That is why it is so important in millinery to never throw away anything and why it is so gratifying (not to speak of sustainable) to upcycle old hats!

      • Wies, if you stop the video at 7:21, read the sign on the wall:
        Brushes marked with blue tape for water based stiffener. Please wash in water after use.
        Brushes marked with purple tape for solvent based stiffener. Do not wash after use.
        Then she has posted her shopping list: ALCOHOL

        • Yes, I spotted that! For many years there was only chemical stiffener (to my knowledge). Needless to say you were not encouraged to hang over it if you were pregnant. But ventilation was not really a big deal: the working conditions in the place where I did my apprenticeship were quite 19 centurish!

      • Thanks, Weis. You ALWAYS are welcome to answer questions. We are so fortunate to have your extensive millinery expertise and knowledge in our conversation.

        That straw- well, it’s just gorgeous.

      • Wies, my untrained eyes thought it was probably parabuntal, but it could’ve also been parasisal, so I’m glad you confirmed it was the former! Also, when she first started to cut the crown off the brim, I cringed for a moment since I could tell that straw was still in excellent shape, just a bit beaten; clearly though the end result is a wonderful reincarnation!

  4. Oh! Hurray! This is wonderful! I love the focus on the hands.
    Louise is among the best of the best, as a milliner, a teacher and as a person.

    Mark Newbound is doing a great job, filming makers at their work, in their natural environment.

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