Is your lockdown hair sending you mad?

If you have ‘lockdown’ hair which has been growing for the last 3 months with no hairdresser on hand to cut it, you might appreciate your own special printers hat to keep it out of your face while you print.

Doll with mad hair and a printers hat
Could this be you?

Traditionally printers wore paper hats to stop ink getting in their hair. 

A printers hat from newspaper
Printers hat from newspaper

A new hat was quickly made each day from newspaper – the standard size of the paper and the particular folds made a great one-size-fits-all boxy hat.

The walrus and the carpenter illustration
The walrus and the carpenter

These square paper hats were also made by Joiners and other workmen – the most famous one being the Carpenter in Lewis Carrol’s poem ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’.  I think wearing a hat completes an outfit and gives you a sense of style, whatever you are doing.

A multi-use vessel

Printers hat with grapes in
Upside down printers hat with grapes

Whether you actually need a hat or not it is fun to make, and if you turn it upside down you can use it to keep stuff in, or eat your lunch out of it…..

I had a go at making one to try it out, when I saw an article in May’s edition of the wood engraving journal ‘Multiples’. After producing a few odd sizes (suitable for dolls!) I realised that in the UK The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Mail all have pages the perfect size for a printers hat.

newspaper on A2 sheet
newspaper is nearly A2 size

The double page spread is just a bit smaller than A2 paper, if your head is particularly large or small, you could try adjusting the paper size to fit.

So if you enjoy keeping old traditions alive, grab a couple of sheets of newspaper and follow these instructions;

instructions for making a printers hat
instructions for making a printers hat

There is a pdf to download here with these instructions. Once you have made a few printmakers hats for yourself and your friends you will soon know how to do it off by heart.

Temperature controlled!

If you are working so hard that your head gets hot, the old printers solved this by cutting a little piece off the top 4 corners off to give some ventilation. 

Fully customisable

Once you get the hang of folding it you may want to try other papers:

Painted papers
colourful painted papers

Have a go at painting or printing your own paper. When it is dry, lay your favourite one face down on the table and add the second one also face down, (this will show on the brim) before you start folding it.

printers hat made from decorated papers
a printers hat from decorated papers

Thin flexible paper like newsprint works best, brown wrapping paper combined with newspaper was successful too; thick stiff paper is not so good.

printers Hat from brown wrapping paper
Printers hat from brown wrapping paper

I also tried one from Tyvek, which should be long lasting and looks very clean to start with……

tyvek printers hat
Printers hat from tyvek

So if you need a bit of distraction before you start printmaking, or a little break during a session why not make yourself a printmakers hat? You will be keeping an old tradition alive as well as keeping your hair out of your face…..