Pressman’s hats

September 17, 2019

It was Crazy Hat day a few days ago here at Hawthorne Gardens, my new home in assisted-living land. Robert and I are wearing historic hats—the kind worn by generations of newspaper press workers dating back to the 1700s.

At the start of each workday, workers would fold a few sheets of newspaper into a hat that protected their hair in the messy environment of the pressroom.

You can make your own hat—it’s a nice skill to have. A finished hat can be inverted and used as a container. I’ve got one full of potpourri in my apartment.

Here’s a set of instructions I found useful. I first tried making a hat with sheets from The New York Times, but the newspaper is printed on a smaller web and the hat was too small. A bit of fudging—not folding the first flaps all the way to the center— made a hat that fit, but it looked funny.

What worked better was pages from The Oregonian! Even though the paper is a tabloid, the full sheets, each with four tabloid pages, are as big as the broadsheets from ages past. My hat even had the comics on it.

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