I entered a tablescape competition. The idea was to create an over-the-top table design (because of course it had to be attention getting!) and any theme the designer chose. And it had to seat 10 (who actually dine at the table). Do you know how hard it is for a designer to pick a theme? So I went with my very favorite story, Alice in Wonderland. But I wanted it to be my own interpretation and settled on “Autumn Tea Party” as the theme (since it was held in October). And I decided I had to have the Mad Hatter serving tea. So I needed a Mad Hatter. Thus, the mannequin.
9-year-old size mannequin
The mannequin was the centerpiece of the table. So how to make the mannequin look like my version of the Mad Hatter…
Well, the mannequin is fabric covered and bendable (though it took two people to create bends). I decide I need to sculpt a face and I can’t sculpt on fabric so I need a hard plastic mask like this:
hard plastic mask
Then I became serious about gathering supplies. I needed clothes, so I designed a costume. Then I had to find fabrics for the costume and decided to use peacock feathers in the theme.
And, of course, teapots…
And flowers and pumpkins and an Alice chair. Then I decided I needed a real Alice to sit in the Alice chair, so I invited Alice Cooper to be my guest (oh yes, I really did), but as it turns out, he was on tour with Rob Zombie and couldn’t make it (my daughter was incredulous that I didn’t know Alice and Rob were on tour and there was a time in bygone days when I would have known that, but not anymore). So I placed an open vintage Alice in Wonderland book on the chair seat so it would appear she/he just stepped away.
So as it progressed, I decided that my Mad Hatter had to be pouring tea, but tripping on the pumpkin vines around his feet and falling forward. Then he had to have dropped his teapot, but it would continue pouring (after all, I was entering the Most Whimsical category). I had even more grandiose ideas, but I realized I would be lucky to pull this off so I scaled back. My son complains that I come up with wonderful ideas that become a project for him. But not this time! This time I recruited my husband to make the teapot suspend mid air and continue pouring.
Here is the Mad Hatter’s face I sculpted and painted on the hard plastic mask:
And the Mad Hatter needed a Hat, so I found a stovepipe leather hat. But I will tell more about that tomorrow.