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Weather Hats, Belle Fourche, South Dakota

bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,292
Location
South Dakota
This week I discovered an unexpected gem in Belle Fourche, South Dakota— it was a pleasure spending a few hours with Jack, hatter of Weather Hat Co., touring his shop and learning about his almost entirely vintage hat-making tools and machinery. He is a gentle, creative soul, and an exceptional craftsman. We talked shop for a long while Friday and Saturday, and I left with one of my holy grail hats: a silver belly “Boss of the Plains.” I immediately took it for a spin on a trail in the Black Hills. I’m so pleased that a custom hat operation like this exists in the state of South Dakota. Thanks Jack!
 

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bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,292
Location
South Dakota
I don't know if I would wear it, but that telescope/Montana peak crown is kind of awesome. (Is that what it would be called?)
One of my favorite things about Jack is that in addition to the "usual" creases-- and the biggest sellers such as the cattleman-- he likes to get creative with his creases and ribbons. Particularly in the telescopic crowns, you will find shapes such as hearts, steer heads, spirals/swirls, arrowheads, mountain peaks (not exactly Montana peak), and saguaro cacti, most of which don't seem to affect the way the hat wears. I thought that was pretty sweet.
 

bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,292
Location
South Dakota
Paid Jack a visit this weekend, and both my colleague and I placed orders with him. Could take about a year to get the felts in. I hear that’s happening a lot lately.
Jack showed me a FEPSA body and we compared it to the Winchester felts he usually orders. I know the FEPSA is well respected around here, but I found the Winchesters to be quite superior in many ways.
He also had a size 8 1/4 body which of course I had to try on.
 
Messages
10,392
Location
vancouver, canada
Paid Jack a visit this weekend, and both my colleague and I placed orders with him. Could take about a year to get the felts in. I hear that’s happening a lot lately.
Jack showed me a FEPSA body and we compared it to the Winchester felts he usually orders. I know the FEPSA is well respected around here, but I found the Winchesters to be quite superior in many ways.
He also had a size 8 1/4 body which of course I had to try on.
Which FEPSA bodies compared to which Winchester bodies?
 

bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,292
Location
South Dakota
Which FEPSA bodies compared to which Winchester bodies?
That's a good question. I'm not sure I know. I can say with at least a little certainty both were western weight beaver felts. FEPSA seemed pre-pounced to a fault, and sends their bodies with a super defined brim break, so in a way, it seemed that you might have less to creatively work with. The Winchester bodies had a more buttery feel, and a longer nap in case you want more of that kind of finish, if that makes sense.
 
Messages
18,936
Location
Central California
Paid Jack a visit this weekend, and both my colleague and I placed orders with him. Could take about a year to get the felts in. I hear that’s happening a lot lately.
Jack showed me a FEPSA body and we compared it to the Winchester felts he usually orders. I know the FEPSA is well respected around here, but I found the Winchesters to be quite superior in many ways.
He also had a size 8 1/4 body which of course I had to try on.


Great post, Jeff. I’ll be looking for their offerings later today.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that you place Winchester above FEPSA. I have custom hats, albeit in dress weight, from the same hatter using pure beaver from Winchester and pure beaver from FEPSA. I love my FEPSA hats, but if I had to chose one felt over the other I’d go with Winchester and it would be a pretty easy decision.
 
Messages
10,392
Location
vancouver, canada
That's a good question. I'm not sure I know. I can say with at least a little certainty both were western weight beaver felts. FEPSA seemed pre-pounced to a fault, and sends their bodies with a super defined brim break, so in a way, it seemed that you might have less to creatively work with. The Winchester bodies had a more buttery feel, and a longer nap in case you want more of that kind of finish, if that makes sense.
Yes, my experience with both those felts concurs. FEPSA felts are more finely finished and the Winchester appear not finished at all at the factory level. I have only worked with the FEPSA beaver/rabbit western weight blend and they are as stiff as cardboard...moreso than Winchester. Working past the FEPSA brim break is not an issue....just lots of steam after a good soak. I like both felts plus Ukraine (rabbit & beaver)....I think it is a case of horses for courses and it is great to have a choice in order to meet the client's requirements.
 
Messages
18,936
Location
Central California
Yes, my experience with both those felts concurs. FEPSA felts are more finely finished and the Winchester appear not finished at all at the factory level. I have only worked with the FEPSA beaver/rabbit western weight blend and they are as stiff as cardboard...moreso than Winchester. Working past the FEPSA brim break is not an issue....just lots of steam after a good soak. I like both felts plus Ukraine (rabbit & beaver)....I think it is a case of horses for courses and it is great to have a choice in order to meet the client's requirements.


I wouldn’t want to be without any of them as options. My first 50/50 beaver and rabbit Ukraine and a 100% beaver Ukrainian hats are in process now. I’ll also add that my Sunrise sourced nutria, dress and western, felt are some of my favorites. It’s great to have options.
 

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