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__Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Saturday, February 26, 2005__

Crafts give the color wheel a wild spin

BALTIMORE - Exhibitors at the 29th-annual American Craft Council Show here are wild about color. From multicolored hammocks - hand-dyed, of course - to a hot pink papier-mache poodle with a clock on its dog tag, the Baltimore Convention Center is simply bursting with one colorful exhibit after another. Even the floors are carpeted in a brilliant shade of blue.

Seattle jewelry maker Lulu Smith is just one cog in this color wheel of about 700 arts and craftspeople from all over the United States. She works with silver and resin in hot colors to produce pieces that are bright as spring flowers. Displayed in cases that look like giant black picture frames, her work is stunning. Presentation is just one element that makes this show one big box of eye candy. Booths are miniature showrooms, sometimes painted in vivid colors to better show off the objects within. 

Wayne Wichern, a milliner from Seattle who now calls the Bay Area home, took digital photos of his studio so visitors could see the various forms and tools he uses in his work. He blew them up poster-size, mounted them around his space and displayed the hats in front of them. So many people don't know what handmade means any more, Wichern said, so he wanted to show them.

Nearby, Seattle millinery Jean Hicks had a crowd of smiling visitors in her display, all trying on her whimsical felt hats. Hicks, a veteran of this show, said it's the only place she can go to find both curators and buyers. She get everything from European clients to offers to participate in both solo and group shows around the country. This year she's introduced scarves made of silk, Lycra and Merino wool fused together. They're both unusual and pretty. "and you could tow a truck with these they're so strong," she smiled.

The Naylor Art display of hand-painted pottery was jammed with visitors yesterday afternoon. Mary Naylor of White Salmon, WA., paints everything from what appear to be Tuscan hillsides to whimsical dogs on platters that are so vibrant and highly glazed, sunglasses would have been useful. "I use the pot as canvas and paint with glaze. Then they're fired twice," Naylor explained.

Kathryn Stotler of Eureka, CA, is another artist who knows and uses color to great effect. Stotler, a weaver, dyes her own yarns then turns them into hand-woven chenille throws with deep, velvety fringes. Her intricate plaid designs have a contrasting diagonal stripe woven into them. They're truly on of a kind.

Even handbags are given the color treatment. Fabric bags being shown here are always a combination of several fabrics and textures ornamented with everything from faux stones to silk tassels. Leather bags are trimmed in contrasting hues. A black bag might have yellow piping. Or leather in several colors and textures are combined in on bag. Bagmaker Karen Carlson of Petaluma, CA, for example, was showing a saddle tan slouch bag with a black trim, purple piping, pigskin lining and a closure strap of crocodile-printed leather.

This show has a huge offering of wearable art, many of them jackets and coats. Some of the most colorful are from Marylou Ozebolt-Storer of Maple Valley. Her specialty is Merino wool coats with bright appliqués - coats that sell in the $1,000 range. Black wool might have red/green/yellow appliqués front and back. This year, she's showing a new line of Polartex vest and jackets. She uses the same techniques to make them bright and novel, but they sell in the $99 to @219 range.

Lita Cox, a longtime friend of the artist, comes from Sedona, AR, each year to help run Ozbolt-Storer's booth. "I'm always in awe of the talent and creativity of the artists here. They inspire me," she said. The works being shown aren't the only colorful sight. Wesley Glebe, a jewelry designer from Pennsylvania, was wearing a lime green leather baseball cap, magenta shirt, lavender and purple bow tie, a black silk vest and black-and-white checked pants. His eyeglass frames were a multicolored mille-fleur print.

By Susan Phinney - Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter



__Seattle Post-Intelligencer __

 Mod hatters show their wares in Seattle

Great looking hats aren't always easy to find, so a show featuring two extraordinary milliners, Wayne Wichern and Daria Wheatley, is good news.

Wichern, who taught many local artists the art of hat making, has been working in the Bay Area in recent years. Wheatley works out of Sedro-Woolley. Although they sell throughout the country, few stores carry a wide selection. This is an opportunity to see a lush assortment of colors and styles, and to place special orders. 

 Seattle Post Intelligencer Staff





__Seattle Homes & Lifestyles __

Ballard's Head Honcho  

Craving a quality hand-blocked hat, the kind Joan Crawford wore with aplomb? Those in the know head for Ballard, where milliner Wayne Wichern turns out designs for Seattle's most discrimination heads.

Local fasionistas regard Wichern 45, with a respect verging on reverence. Wichern's hats are unerringly elegant and endowed with tastefully theatrical touches - a hint of veiling, perhaps, or a bit of braid. " I'm from Cody, Wyoming - but I don't make cowboy hats," quips Wichern, nodding toward his cosmopolitan chapeaus.

Wichern studied floral design in Seattle after high school, then moved to New York to take up ballet. Ultimately, he found a keener interest backstage, in costume design. Back in Seattle, he parlayed his experience into a display position at Frederick & Nelson Department Stores and simultaneously began his studies with the venerable Northwest milliner John Eaton. "He was from the glory days of millinery - the forties and fifties," says Wichern of his late mentor.

What began as a hobby soon became a passion, and Wichern an Eaton protégé. Eaton is gone now, but his hat blocks, burnished a tawny ochre from years of steam and use, line the shelves of Wichern's studio, solemn as sentinels.

Vintage styles, however, are only an inspiration, not a template for Wichern's design. "My job is to use these vintage blocks and update them," notes the designer, who often employs classic blocks in irreverent ways - by inverting a pillbox shape, for instance, and marrying it with a brim from an unrelated block. The Shar-Pei hat is a whimsical product of such a cross-breeding. Soft, irregular folds around the crown mimic the trendy wrinkled dog. Universally flattering, the style is one of Wichern's top sellers. Ditto the Titanic, a dramatic, wide-brimmed model that transforms any face into a heroine's.

While Wichern's business is largely custom work for private clients, he is steadily building a following in boutiques from Menlo Park, CA to Atlanta GA.  In Seattle, Wichern's originals can be found at Alhambra and Karan Dannenberg Clothier.            

Mia Nicholson 

__Seattle Magazine__

Topping It Off

Artisan does it the old-fashioned way. Custom-produced modern treasures by hand.          

Growing up on a farm in Cody, Wyoming, turned out to be great preparation for Wayne Wichern's profession as a maker of custom hats. Just as on the farm, he must be resourceful and inventive with the materials he uses. His career as a dancer and florist helped him as well. "My floral background certainly prepared me for much of the trimming and decoration skills that dress my more romantic and frothy hats," he says. "And my dance background and interest in costuming generate an obvious theatrical expression in much of my work."

Largely self-taught, Wichern also learned the art of hatmaking in part from John Eaton, a Seattle milliner who created and sold hats to the city's social set from the 1940s to the '60s. "John taught me the basics of millinery and inspired the rest," says Wichern, who now teaches private hatmaking classes himself.

Wichern's style is showcased in the meticulous hand-detailing that goes into each of his chapeaux. Using steam, he stretches (blocks) the felt , straw or other hat materials over a wooden hat form to create each unique shape, then lets it dry and finally, adds trims and embellishments.

Wichern's clients range from women looking for a special wedding hat to Seafair Pirates, local rock stars and celebrities. He has also done custom work for several theater troupes including the Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Empty Space Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet. With his innovative and elegant creations, Wichern could help to bring back the era when women rarely left the house without a hat. "Enjoy the change of pace and wear a hat to lunch or tea," he suggests. "Hats are theater, and we can all use a few minutes of relief from our usual personality."

Kathleen F. Miller