Costume Workshop Preps for NYC's Massive Mad Hatter Tea Party

By Meredith Hoffman on October 16, 2012 3:48pm 

EAST WILLIAMSBURG — If you've ever dreamt of bedecking your head in a lampshade, stuffed bunny or sequins, your moment has finally come — not just because it's almost Halloween.

This Wednesday evening at the House of Yes, artist Nicolina Johnson and her creative posse invite revelers of all ages to fashion their own hats from a room brimming with gems, ribbons, plastic buckets and more — all in final preparations for the Third Annual Massive Mad Hatter Tea Party.

"The only rule is you have to wear a hat," Johnson said of the upcoming festival and parade this Saturday in the East Village's Tompkins Square Park, which she founded in 2010. "And the workshops encourage people who haven't painted anything since they were kids to create something."

The outdoor party includes a "loose reenactment" of "Alice in Wonderland" with a "musical battle" between bands defending the Queen of Hearts and a duel between the Jabberwocky monster and Alice, Johnson said — and the group encourages passersby to hop into the spectacle.

"We make about 60 extra hats for people to wear...The spirit is to catch people walking in the park and get them to dance with us," Johnson said. 

As for the House of Yes workshop, Johnson said novice craftspeople can solicit her help and can use any of the eclectic hat materials for free (with donations appreciated, she noted). 

"We'll have glue guns, sewing machines...random things like boots," she said. "Someone last week chopped a stuffed bunny in half and put the head on a lampshade...it looked like the lampshade was the bunny's skirt."

Usually Johnson stages the festivities in the summertime, but since she was traveling this year she waited until fall — and with Halloween approaching, participants can recycle their creations the following week, she noted.

"October's a magical month with all the costumes," she said.

The Mad Hatter workshop is at the House of Yes, 342 Maujer St., 6 to 10 p.m. The Massive Mad Hatter Tea Party is 2 to 4 p.m. in Tompkins Square Park, with a parade and after-party to follow. More details can be found on the group's Facebook page.

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