Friday, December 20, 2013

Christine's Millinery - "you can keep your hat on!"

It is so fabulous to meet someone who is so passionate about headwear!
Actually, it is just fabulous to meet Christine -

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Christine Thompson and I'm a milliner - I make hats.
I have been making hats for over 20 years.
Mainly I have worked for opera, theatre, film and musicals.
"Madam Butterfly", "Carmen", "My Fair Lady", "Phantom of the Opera", "Love Never Dies", "Dr Zhivago", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Moulin Rouge", "King Kong", "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", are some of the shows I have worked on.
In 2010 I started my own millinery business in the Blue Mountains, Christine's Millinery, producing original, one of a kind head pieces for formal occasions, smart casual wear, bridal parties and racing carnivals.

Who or what inspire you?

I was inspired and still am by the late great theatrical milliner, Jean Carroll.
She worked until she was 90 and loved every minute of it.
She also loved passing on her skills and I was very privileged to be blessed by her generosity.

Your signature or favourite item

My most famous hat was Nicole Kidman's hat which she wore in the film Moulin Rouge. 
I'm very proud to be able to tell people that I made it.
More recently I made a hat for an exhibition called Sooty Pot, which I designed after a trip to England in 2007.
I was inspired to make hats based on the chimney pots I saw there. I first wantes to do a whole series of chimney pot hats. I made two, the Sooty Pot which won an award and the Ochre Pot hat.


What do you most enjoy doing?

I spent many years realising the design dreams of others, before becoming my own designer-maker.
So I love developing new styes of hats and experimenting with colours and fabrics. 
I also love working with a client to create a unique, wearable piece of art, one that she or he feels proud to wear.
I also love teaching millinery and gain great satisfaction seeing students take on something on board that they have learnedfrom me and then making it their own.
I just love doing what I do.

What would you rather be doing?
One day I would like to travel the world.
When I'm rich and famous!

How did you start along this road?

I wasn’t interested in sewing until the age of 30, where it became necessary to learn how to sew after paying for someone to hem my trousers. A basic sewing course at TAFE led to the love of sewing and wanting to learn more and more until I settled on millinery.
In 1995 I went to Opera Australia to do work experience with Connie Kerr, their milliner. She liked my skills and offered me casual work until a position of assistant milliner became available.
I was the assistant milliner till Connie’s retirement in 2001, I then became head milliner. 

Where you see yourself in 5 years time?

I love what I do and can see myself making hats for many years to come.

5 words of advice for others
or 5 things you would say to other new artists/crafters/home businesses.

I have worked with some of Australia's best milliners and the best advice I was given in my early years in theatre was to always do my best and to strive for perfection.
Persevere and don't give up after the first difficulty.
Get good advice in the beginning and use help when setting things up.
Don't be afraid to try new things.
I believe that over-planning can set businesses up for disappointment. If you have your mind set on one goal yo might miss other opportunities that come your way. I think you have to be able to bend with the wind a bit, particularly in the economic climate we are living in.

If you would like to see some more of Christine's wonderful work you can find a selection of hats at The Nook Leura, or at some markets in the Blue Mountains.
For details of workshops or if you would like to commission a special hat contact Christine.

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