A walk through the hat factory - Janina Ernst


May 2015


I heard about that place from a friend, a place from which one apparently leaves happier and more beautiful. She gave me a business card, written in an old font with only a phone number, no name, nor address. Today nobody would make their business cards look like this anymore. Everything about it seemed to come from an old forgotten time. Yet it made me curious.

I called the number. An elderly woman answered whose name I never came to find out. After explaining her what I needed, a catalog with pictures of many different extraordinary hats was sent to me. I choose one and called again. She told me to come to Bedford Square, where I should enter a backdoor in the alley behind the square. I found it a little strange but I still could not keep myself from going there.

From the outside the house looked exactly like al the others, only the blue door showed that it contained a secret. I knocked on the door and the elderly woman invited me in. Upon entering, I heard some calm nice music, covering the mechanic sounds of the machines. I almost did not notice how somehow my coat was taken from my shoulders and flew away on my right hand side. To my left I noticed wool so soft and fluffy that it reminded me of huge clouds in the sky. The wool was spun around and pumped into a machine, turning it into smooth white felt. The woman guided me further into the house and told me that the felt I just viewed was going to be my hat. As I looked around I could have sworn seeing a cat straying around. There were books and flowers lying around as well. In the machine the piece of felt was cut and dipped into a colourful bath. A blow dryer followed and in the next step the hat was already pressed into the basic form.

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Then the hat sank into my hands, so that I was able to feel the felt and try the hat on. The elderly lady guided me further towards a flower bed. She told me to pick some flowers to decorate the hat. I could not believe what I was seeing, because those flowers were real. She told me that they were not going to wither and I could not believe her. Afterwards the flowers and the hat were put onto a table that carried them up into the last machine that put the single pieces together. It only took a moment and shortly after the hat was put on my head, I was already standing in front of a mirror. I felt like a new person. The lady had somehow disappeared and I could not say where to or when she left. As I stepped out of the door onto Bedford Square, the only thing I could do was smile. And when the door closed and the music stopped I felt like I was back on earth.


Mark Proosten