Why not judge a hat by its cover?
Monday 8th January 2024
We asked artist (and poet) Jane Burn to share with us the process of creating the wonderful cover image for our new Ten Poems about Hats title. Here’s what she told us…
This picture first began to take shape after reading the poem selection for this wonderful poetry pamphlet. Ten Poems about Hats was a gift to me as I absolutely adore hats (indeed, I wish that they were still very much in fashion!) and have been known to wear one of my own very fancy ones every now and then.
A book cover illustration must echo the content, so of course there were going to be hats, hats, hats! I wanted to convey the idea of a display in a milliner’s shop.
One of the poems inside was written by John Foggin, a much-loved poet, much missed by many since his death last year. I wanted the cover to act as a memorial to him in some way, so I placed the cloche hat with the rose which is mentioned in his poem on the front of the cover (notice that I kept folding the page in half so that I could keep a sharp eye on the placing of the hats).
Candlestick covers also have to work as a whole, so some artistic juggling is necessary in order to make the cover work as a whole and as two halves, front and back. I also chose to use the rickrack mentioned in John’s poem and turned it into the wallpaper in the background.
This was the first rough sketch of the design, to see if it was going along the right lines.
As the pamphlet was Ten Poems about Hats, I wanted to show ten hats – eight are visible and two are inside the hat boxes.
The next stage was making sure that the hats were all placed correctly – the title and back cover information had to be factored in, so there was a little bit of moving about to be done, mainly around the top hat.
With the go-ahead given, I first made a cardboard stencil for the rickrack, otherwise there would have been no keeping it the same! I used a penny to make the curves of the rickrack. It took a while to mark out and cut.
Then I painted the yellow background and when it was dry, I stencilled on the white rickrack. I then added small ‘stitches’ in thin white pen.
Now I was ready to transfer the approved sketch onto paper. I needed to keep it exactly as it was, so I used a grid to accurately do so.
First, I added the hats on the back row. Then I began to paint them in. It took many layers to cover the wallpaper.
The next stage was to fill in the front row of hats. I painted them on a separate sheet of paper as I wanted to cut them out and collage them on, so that they could be neat and sharp.