Mad Hatter-Kitty Hats

Kids love cats! A cat is always a good topic when you’re creating something. Kids prefer the cat costumes and hats out of all of the animals in my store. I love it when moms come in and tell me that they need a second cat costume because their child sleeps in theirs and they need a spare so they can wash the other one without causing a scene. Helen is wearing a white kitty hat, but I think if it was grey, black or orange (minus the puff of maribou on top) boys would wear it too.

Emili, Helen and Diana

Emili, Helen and Diana are school buddies, 8 years old. My animal summer hats are still appropriate for this age group and up to around 11 years old, depending on your child.

animal summer hats: rabbit, cat, bird
cat summer hat

Mad Hatter Flower hats

 This flower hat is the picture of summer!

Emili and Elli in summer flower hats

Look it’s a Summer bouquet! Sometimes a hat is more than something to keep the sun out of your face; it’s a statement. Hats don’t denote social status anymore, but they do convey a sense of fashion. A flower on your heads is definely a fashion accessory that says “look at me”. The old saying: “if you want to get ahead and get noticed, then get a hat” applies in this case.  I gave my niece Piper a flower hat a few summers ago and I have never been stopped by so many people or heard so many comments as when she wore that hat around town (Bloomington, Indiana). Today’s utilitarian hat wearing traditions are much more ho-hum than those of by-gone days, but I believe this flower hat falls into the category of  a hat for “an occation”. What is the occation to wear such a hat? A beautiful, sunny day!

Yellow Flower hat

The Mad Hatter-Bird in a nest hat

This bird in a nest hat makes me laugh out loud and snort! When my girls see this reaction of mine to my work they say “mama, you crack yourself up, don’t you?” The shape of this bird sitting in her nest just lends itself to the shape of the hat. I think this hat looks British; the British have always been pretty serious about their hats; God save the Queen!

The Mad Hatter

My girls don’t like to wear hats.  Living in a country so sunny (nearly every day) as Israel, we MUST wear hats here. Many mothers come into my store looking for summer hats for their babies; every year I try to design summer hats worthy of a milinary fashion show in Milan. As the mothers are trying hats on their babies, I sit and daydream:” I imagine my creative, whimsical hats on the heads of adorable tots, crawling and toddling down the runways of the worlds leading fashion shows. The very well dressed, sophisticated and uppity crowd ooh and ahhhh as the babies make their way down the catwalk, decked out in my summer hats. ” Babies don’t really have much of a choice when it comes to wearing a hat; their moms just plop them down on their little heads, tie them on with the strings provided and that’s that. 

 But the older kids need to be pursueded to wear hats. It’s important that the hats I make are cute or appealing to little kids because I think it easier to convice a child to wear the hat. I’ve been making hats with themes that I know children will love. I KNOW that all children love animals, little girls love pink, pretty things, boys love things with wheels and manly animals. What is a manly animal you may wonder. Well mothers in my store have explained to me that they don’t like “girly” animals on their boys like bunnies, kitties or duckies. It has been explained to me by several different mothers, that if the animals might eat you, if it has big teeth and growls  like a tiger, a lion or a prehistoric beast, these are the manliest and best animals of all for little boys!?. I also make a few hats just for myself, because I think that they are hilarious. If my girls see the hats in my studio and  have a shrill response “OOOHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”  in a pitch that only a dog can hear, I know they will be very popular!

Many Realities

Emili and I riding a camel in the Negev desert.

I saw the movie “Ajami”, written and directed by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, several months ago. It’s about an Arab/Christian/Jewish neighborhood in Jaffa, Israel and the daily lives and struggles of the people who live there. “Ajami” was nominated for a ‘Best Foreign Film’ Oscar award but didn’t win; I thought it was a good movie even though I watched it in Arabic with Hebrew subtitles and I don’t speak either language. My friend Aya lives in the Ajami neighborhood and as I stood on her balcony one evening with a glass of wine in one hand and my camera in the other, I snapped pictures of the sun setting over the Mediterranean Sea. The lives of the people in the movie and the lives of the people I know who live in Ajami are as night to day, apples to oranges, two very different realities.

The view from Aya and Arik's balcony in Ajami.

There are many different realities in Israel, from the Jewish reform, to the conservative, to the ultra orthodox, to the secular Israelis, to the Ethiopians, to the Yemenites, to the Druze, to the Bedouins, to the foreigners, to the Muslim Arabs, to the Christian Arabs, to the Christians, to the Russians, to the illegals, to the Kibbutzniks, to the Sephardic, to the Ashkenazi. When we first moved here, I was surprised to find so many distinct groups of people with so many differing views and opinions and most of them seemed to dislike the others. For me, in America, the groups were fairly easy to understand – there were mainly whites, blacks and Hispanics and they were struggling to get along with one another. It was so much more complicated than that here.

A mine field in the Galilee.

As I was living a normal life in Tel Aviv a few years ago, citizens of Sderot, a small town only 40 miles to the south, were fleeing from scud missiles shot at them by Hamas (a Palestinian terror group) from the Gaza strip (this has been going on for the last 7 years, but has subsided as of recently). One of my seamstresses lives in Sderot and occasionally when we were speaking on the phone to discuss the children’s costumes that she was sewing for me, the phone would go dead because a rocket had torn down the phone lines or she had to hang up and run to her bomb shelter because the rocket warning siren had just sounded. As the citizens of Israel live in relative peace as of today’s date (May 17, 2010), the citizens of Gaza and the West Bank live under extreme restrictions and living conditions. Sometimes I try to explain to people that living here can be compared to when I lived in Chicago; you know where the “dangerous” neighborhoods are and if you’re smart you don’t go there. A drive by shooting or a suicide bombing, are we really safe anywhere these days? I think not.

View of Jaffa from Neve Tzedek.

The situation in the Middle East is not easy to understand, follow or come up with a solution. But if I can tell you anything about understanding the situation here, I’d tell you not to believe everything you read and to consider the source of your information. The perception of the situation here is so skewed outside of Israel that it’s clear to me that you must be a very good interpreter to understand what is really going on. It also doesn’t help that no one seems to want to write about non-eventful, beautiful days here, which contributes to the perception that everything here is bad and that the whole country is constantly fighting a war. One of my best friends, Storm has been here 3 times to visit me. The first time she arrived, Israel was experiencing quite a few suicide bombings, so we didn’t go to many public places. The second time she was here there was fighting in Gaza and the calls that Storm received from her concerned family and friends from America were panicky. They asked her if she could hear the bombs exploding and this was all after we had spent a fun afternoon at the mall. The fighting that her family had heard about on the news was about an hour away from where we were. I was relieved that she had left Israel thinking that it was a normal enough place and she felt that my family and I were o.k. here. I thought that her visit gave her the information to have an educated opinion of the situation in Israel. I think it’s all too easy to read an article in the newspaper and formulate an opinion based on the writer’s opinions. But we can’t all jump on airplanes and visit foreign places just to be able to have an educated opinion about the situation there. Sadder yet, most of us don’t really care about the situation in the Middle East or the Congo or Chechnya or anywhere else for that matter because it doesn’t really affect our daily lives (point taken!). But before someone gets on a soap box or starts formulating opinions, they should be correctly informed, very informed.

View of Tel Aviv from Jaffa.