At work, we’re in tech for August Wilson’s Fences and our costume designer, Helen Q. Huang, wanted a porkpie hat for the character of Lyons. Trouble is, we don’t have a porkpie crown block in the correct size! However, that was not insurmountable.
Here’s how my crafts assistant, first-year grad student Adrienne Corral, built up a crown block to create this great hat!

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Research images that Helen and our director, Seret Scott, love.
If there were time, we could have purchased one, but there was not.
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A floppy Dobbs fedora from stock, whose crown has lost its pinch.
Can we make this a porkpie? Yes.
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Base block, a cloche block carved by
former technical production graduate Laura Merola (’09).
This block is slightly smaller than the actor’s headsize.
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First Adrienne built up the crown to a bit of a dome shape with oil clay.
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Dome covered with foil.
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Piping core that will form our porkpie ridge,
and foil tape that will help smooth our block surface.
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Two rows of piping stack to form the ridge, and a sleeve
of thin Ethafoam helps smooth the outer line of the block.
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The top of the block, ready for foil covering and blocking…
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Adrienne uses a pullerdown from DeCou Studio to block the hat.
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The blocked crown in our ventilation box being sized.
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Finished hat, ready for stage!