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June 23, 2014

DAR says 'hats off' to area woman with award

New York state history, genealogy, patriotism, and especially felting, are old hat for June Preston, who drew from each of these elements to win a statewide craft award recently.

Preston, an alpaca farmer from Worcester, recently won first place in the New York State Daughters of the American Revolution American Heritage Competition in Fiber Arts, she said Sunday. Preston’s hat then went on to the national contest, and came in third against winners from all 50 states which, she said, she was “even more shocked” to hear.

A member of the Worcester-based Iroquois Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter for almost six years, Preston is passionate about genealogy, history and patriotism, three elements on which the organization is focused, she said. 

But it was her handiwork that won her the prestigious state DAR award in March, she said. Her winning entry was a felt hat made of fiber from the alpacas on her own farm. 

Preston said she was “shocked” to learn of her award. The hat, she said, is “very original, very unique and very one-of-a-kind!” 

The inspiration for it came just as her local DAR chapter was celebrating its 100th anniversary, Preston said.

“Throughout history, women’s hats have been essential. A necessity, a frivolous accessory, a formality and a fashion staple,” Preston said. “I started thinking about the 100th anniversary and what hats looked like back then. Then I started thinking about a lady who always wears hats in our chapter and looks so nice in them. I put it all together. After doing some research, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s so cool, I think I’d really like to make one.’”

Preston calls her creation “The Essential Women’s Hat.” Felt is the oldest “fabric” known to man, she said, and hat-making has been an art since the 18th century.

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