Grant Sergot is a self-taught hatter who discovered the art by accident.
It all began at the Grand Canyon in 1972, when he was living in a truck at the age of 22. He broke down on the way to Supai from the South Rim Village on back roads. There was eight feet of snow that year and he happened to find an old, blown-out felt hat on the side of the road. That night he found himself sitting around a juniper fire with a dog on each side, huge snowflakes coming down. The hat got wetter and wetter from the snow, and the brim started to slump. He realized it was the moisture that was making the brim malleable. He started working the brim to gutter the water off the front and back over his poncho, realizing what a tool it could be.
When he went to bed that night, he threw the hat up on the dashboard of his truck (which you shouldn’t do) and in the morning the sun began to dry the hat. The drier the brim became, the less he could work it, but the more it held its form. It was at that moment he realized, ‘This is a medium like clay, like plaster; this is a sculptural form.’
He has been making hats ever since.
Óptimo Hatworks is an atelier (salon studio) that is museum-like in its layout so the public can view hat-making in the old-world style. We pride ourselves as makers and educators in the art of traditional millinery, our workshop is thus available for educational tours. Please contact us to make arrangements.