Day 210, Year 5: Hat Making 101
Date: Monday, May 24, 2010
Weather: Broken Record-Sunny Day, Cloudy Evening, SE Winds 5
Location: Ile Fouquet, Salomon Atoll, Chagos

Today’s endeavor was to try and learn the art of making hats and bowls from coconut fronds. After three hours, Mark and I decided that we flunked Hat Making 101, but we had a good time and we do certainly know more than we did. I have a bowl woven from a coconut frond sitting on the table in the main salon. It has been there since Tonga in 2006 and I never dreamed that I could learn to make one. But I now look at it differently. With time and patience, I think I could make one. The key is finding a frond with long enough leaves (three feet is a good length, not shorter) and with no more than an inch-and-a-half between where the leaves come off the palm frond. You then chop out a section of the frond that has about eighteen sets of leaves. The length depends on what you are making, but for a hat this is about right. You then take a machete and split the stem right down the middle and spend about a half-an-hour trimming this down so that there is just enough stem to hold the leaves on. The stem is now pliable and you can bend it around to fit your head. You overlap the stem, cut off the excess, and then make two sets of notches on each side of where the stem overlaps. You then wrap wire ties or strips of coconut fiber around at both sets of notches. At this point you have a crown of very long palm leaves. Then the fun begins. You begin to weave the leaves together and two hours later you have a hat. Or something like that. Our products from today are pretty rough looking, but we now know how to do this. Now we just need to practice. Kathy of Mr. Curley was our teacher and the students were Mark and I, John and Sue of Susan Margaret, and Wolfgang of Galateia. John was by far the most serious student and his second creation was quite nice. While Mark and I were working on our first, Sue came over and asked if we were making a lamp shade. That’s why I say we flunked the course!

We are also indebted to Kathy and Richard on Mr. Curley for selling us 50 liters of dinghy fuel. They will be here another six weeks, but they have extra and we are so happy to get the fuel. We split the fuel between Constance and ourselves and now we can use the dinghy without worrying about running out of fuel. I traded a couple of cans of butter plus some US money for the fuel. Thank you, Mr. Curley.

100524 Day 210 Salomon, Chagos–Hat Making 101
Day 211, Year 5: You Can't Take It With You
Day 209, Year 5: Book Swap in Takamaka Camp