Custom made Shade
Local masters craft premium hats
Davis, who has been operating Limpia Creek Hats over two years, wouldn’t practice his craft anywhere else. “This part of the country is perfect,” he said. “It’s usually dry; a drier climate is better for hat-making.”
Even with the climate on their side, these expert hat-makers agree that the final product is only as good as the quality of the felt used to make the hat. The finest quality felt comes from beaver fur. Second best is a blend of beaver and rabbit.
Regardless of the felt used, both men make hats following a method that dates back to the 1800s. Each hat is unique; perfectly fitted to the customer with “hat blocks,” wooden molds that serve as a model of the head size and shape.
The felt is fitted over a hat block, sanded down until fuzz and stray fibers are gone, and ironed until the brim is flat and smooth. The felt is then shaped into the desired style. Finally, the decorative details of liners and hatbands are added. The entire process can take around 40 hours per hat.
The 100% beaver hats will cost you, but the tighter, denser fibers in the hair make the hat lightweight without sacrificing any durability, and slick enough that water slides off the brim like drops of mercury.
“The natural oils in the beaver fur is so much better for the weather and being water repellant,” said Davis. “The vast majority of people that wear our hats are working people that wear them everyday. We try to build something that lasts.”
These two talented and hardworking men know the business is really about who walks in their door. "The thing about this is that you really got to want to serve people,” Spradley said. For John Davis the best part is the very end when the customer finally puts their hat on and looks in the mirror. “You see a grin come on their face and then you know you’ve done a good job.” BB