What a fantastic thread! Thanks for sharing the information and photos. I live in Australia and often have Akubra make special hats for me to order (specifically Homburgs in size 62 and different colours). I will never complain about the price ever again which all of a sudden seems very reasonable considering the amount of work involved.
This is why I joined this forum. Too cool. Jim is too cool. Process explained with photos was great. Anyone check out his suspenders? He's got them clipped to his belt loop, Classic! Not only do I want a hat from this guy, I need a pair of those suspenders.
This really helps me appreciate the efforts that artists like Art and Steve Delk put into their products. I have an order placed with both gentlemen and this thread really helped me to understand "custom".
I was actually able to go down and see Jim at JW hats this past weekend and he graciously allowed me to spend all day Saturday with him talking and demonstrating about hats and the hat business. He had kind words to say about you Art and said that he had been out to see you when you lived in the Bay Area before Oregon. I used to live close by you in Martinez but have since moved to Idaho. I lurk much much more than I post here but I have had great admiration for your work and talked with him about you and other hatters that I know. I was looking for hand making hat tips and though Jim enjoys the benefits of vintage and handmade machinery in making hats and advocates it quite heavily, he was still an excellent resource for passing along tips. I took maybe 125 pictures while I was down there and he was most gracious in opening his shop to me. Quite a guy. I'm passing along the Scientific Hat making book to him as he had not seen it yet. I'm sure he knows most if not all of what is in there already but he was interested in it and I would do anything for him as nice as he treated me. With his permission, I will pick out some pictures from my trip and post them up here. He has a tremendous vintage ribbon collection and a lot of unique and vintage hat making equipment.