The miner’s hat is shaped like a bowler hat with a brim.
Take a basin which fits the person who will wear the hat. Testing simply by putting the basin on the child’s head will probably result in a hat which is too big, as this doesn’t allow for the thickness of the bowl. Measure the circumference of the child’s head, and find a bowl with a matching external circumference.
Place the bowl upside down on a tray. Cover the outside of the bowl with cling film so that it can be removed from the hat when it is ready. The cling film should also go on the tray where the brim of the hat will be. Now cover the bowl with strips of glued brown paper. This dries much more quickly than papier maché and produces a neater result.
Besides covering the outside of the bowl, the brown paper should extend for about 3 centimetres around the bowl to make the brim of the hat. If the edge is ragged this can be trimmed later.
Allow the hat to dry and remove it from the bowl. Cut round the edge of the brim to make a smooth curve. This can then be made neater by putting more strips of brown paper over the edge.
The hat needs to be stiff, and needs to fit the wearer snugly so that it won’t fall off. More material can be added to the outside, and painting it with thick PVA glue will make the hat harder. If the hat is too large, add brown paper to the inside.
When the hat is finished it can be painted.
Ordinary small candles can be used, but if these are considered dangerous, there is an alternative. In Sweden, St. Lucy’s Day (just before Christmas) is celebrated by making crowns carrying lighted candles which are worn by small girls. Because of the obvious danger, there is a market for battery operated alternatives, which can be found on the Internet. http://www.smartcandle.co.uk is one source of suitable candles.
Traditionally the candle was held to the hat with clay. Plasticene or modrock would make obvious substitutes, but it may be easier to attach the candle with more stuck on brown paper and then paint this to resemble mud.
TESTING THE HAT
Ideally, testing the hat needs total darkness, as in a large store cupboard, and it is here that the electric candle is preferable to a flame. First, warn the child about how dark it will be, as in a mine. Put a chair in the cupboard for the child, and have something written in large print attached to a wall in front of the chair. It may say something like ‘Now I can see this notice in the dark. It is time to let me out’.
Next, allow the child to sit in the cupboard wearing the hat with the candle lit. Close the door and ask the child to say when they can read the notice. When their eyes are used to the dark and they have read the sign, open the door.
Children may also experiment to see whether it is as easy to read with a candle held in the hand. It is likely that being able to see the ‘flame’ makes reading more difficult than when the candle is on the hat.