• How to Carve a Hat Block - Part Four | Bowlers or Round Blocks

    Lena Olin in The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    The bowler was created in 1849 by London milliners Thomas and William Bowler for the hat shop Lock & Co. In those days most men would wore a top hats. But this proved to be a problem when riding horses...etc because they could be easily blown or knocked off. (I actually like my teacher's story about how they called them bowlers because they are shaped like a bowl.) So, the Bowler was born and has remained popular on the heads of performers (Charlie Chaplin, Marlena Dietrich), business men, art (Magritte's paintings) and some very sexy ladies, like Lena Olin.

    Lock and Company
    You can carve a round block from styrofoam easily. And this block can be used to shape a variety of styles including a bowler. All you need is the following:

    • 8" inch round styrofoam ball
      (measure around to be sure you have at least 24 inches)
    • Knife  - with a straight edge
    • Empty can - like a coffee can
    • Callus tool - for smoothing 
      Step 1
      Measure you ball to see how wide it is. You want to choose either a 21, 22, 23 inch width for your block. I usually use 23 because that's the size of my head. And if I need to reduce the size I make the headband smaller to fit the wearer.

      Carve off a flat bottom for your block
      Step 2
      Decide on where you want the bottom of your block to be and carve the end to create a flat surface. No more than 3/4 an inch is needed to be removed.

      Try to press with even pressure
      Step 3
      Place the bottom of the ball on top of your can and apply pressure as evenly as possible.

      Crooked! Press again!
       You can flip the ball over to look at the can and see where you need to press in order to even it out.

      Step 4
      Begin to shave the sides of your ball straight down all on every side. Use your hands to feel out any areas that may be bumpy but don't worry too much about that. You have to apply your "Artist" and focus on creating a perfectly round side at the inch size you need. DO NOT ALTER THE TOP OF YOUR BALL! It is already round and therefore providing your shape. Shave until you reach the size you want.

      23 inches with rough edges

      Step 5
      Once you've reached the width you want stop carving and switch to the callus tool. This will allow you the ablity to smooth out any bumps.


      Next, I will show you how you can use a round block to make several shapes - and finally, I'll block something.