One of the delights of ‘Spring Fling’ (for more on this, see here), is coming across a lovely welcome, such as this one for Minette Bell Macdonald’s studio near Lockerbie.
Equally attractive was the horticultural display around the door to Kay Ribbens’ studio near Newton Stewart.
Kay is a hat-maker.
Inside the studio was a colourful array of hats of many shapes and sizes, including a splendid helmet-like creation with matching long coat. Another had hillside sheep on the crown and a dragon round the brim, complete with long tail hanging down for draping over one’s shoulder. Yet another hat had the addition of an artist’s palette. A whole table was covered with multi-coloured berets. It was interesting to see work in progress on the large work-table.
Kay explained to me that she had originally been a painter, but that when her children were small, she found painting created a lot of mess (which didn’t mix well with little ones) and so she turned her hand to textiles. She enjoyed crochet and began to make crocheted hats. Kay has been specialising in crocheted hats for some years now. International exhibitions have called for specific contributions, for example a hat with a rolled scroll of a Shakespearean sonnet, plus a quill, made for an event entitled ‘Text-Isles’.
Kay uses two types of yarn: firstly, acrylic (used for some of the hats) and a mixture of silk and lambswool (used for the majority). In both cases, the finished hat is light to wear and is very practical, as it squashes flat for packing and springs back into shape.
An interesting fact that emerged from our conversation was that Kay keeps peacocks. One particular peacock called Oscar lived for 21 years (dying prematurely because he was killed by a mink from the local river). Kay made a hat as a tribute to Oscar.
(Happily, there is a new peacock in Oscar’s place now.)
Kay shows her hats at the Edinburgh Festival, and exports them to Italy. Fortunately, they are also obtainable locally from the Artists & Makers pop-up shop in Kirkcudbright. Here, you can find a display of the hats on sale, in a shop staffed by the artists and craftspeople themselves. For more information about Kay, follow the link at the end of this post.
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The link to Kay’s website is www.kayribbens.co.uk .