Grant Sergot is a self-taught hatter and 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 was sitting around a juniper fire with a dog on each side, huge snowflakes coming down. The hat kept getting wetter and the brim started to slump. He realized it was the wetness that was making it 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 (which you shouldn’t do) and the sun began to dry the hat in the morning. The drier it got, the less he could work it, but the more it would hold the form of what he was wanting to do with the brim. He suddenly realized this is a medium like clay, like plaster; this is a sculptural form.