Satanica Batcakes has lived in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles since 1995 and loves it. She says, ‘I wouldn’t live anywhere else in this city. We have trees and parks!’ She has a 17 year old son, Jordan, and two cats named Pixie and Battle Cat. Satanica describes herself as ridiculous, hilarious, imaginative, nurturing, fearless, polarizing and flexible. Some of her favorite things are the circus, vintage costumery, hanging out with clowns and making puppets. Without a doubt, Satanica is among the most unique crafters out there. You can find her shop here. You can also find Batcakes products at MediaNoche in Los Angeles and Fedora Primo in Santa Monica.
Why/when did you start making these head creations?
I started making head dresses in 2003. The first one I made was for a theatrical wrestling show called Lucha Va Voom. I was a feature fire and burlesque performer and I always made my own costumes. Moving into head dresses and feathers was just FUN! A good friend of mine told me I should start selling fascinators to the drag queens so I started a little ebay store 18 months ago and now it has turned into a full time bridal business! Plus I had always been a sculptor, fabricator, and puppet builder here in Hollywood, so the idea of sculpting with feathers was really great for me. I treat every hat like a little sculpture. They are even armatured like you would a sculpture or a puppet.
Can you tell us a little of your process?
Sure! For a hat base I start with buckram that I block on just about anything round and the right size that I need for a hat. First you soak it, then you lay it over the shape that you want and let it dry. Then I armature it with wire around the edges and use a special secret formula of adhesives to make the fabrics lay just right. I have found that the key to making anything is knowing which adhesives to use with which material. I am also very much a stickler for making my work look very finished. This means cleaning up all of the materials first. Making them stronger and more durable. When I use an applique I always back it with fabric and buckram and finish the edges. I hand sew what needs to be hand sewn and glue what needs to be glued. I am not a material snob. Some people say they would never use hot glue on anything- but there is a way to use hot glue where you can actually get an archive quality bond. I also make sure my veiling doesn’t have stray edges, and that they entire item looks PERFECT before I consider it finished. I am very obsessive compulsive about my work, probably to a fault.
Do you have a dedicated work area/room?
I work out of my living room/studio for now! I have found that you can make an incredible amount of art in a very small amount of space.
Is this your full-time job? Hobby? Fun?
This is beyond a full time job. This is a business. I went into making hats with the strict intent to manufacture. Don’t get me wrong, I love making things. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time other than creating- but my hobbies are very different than making hats! When I first started this I was working full-time as a fire eater and puppet builder and scenic artist – I am not kidding. After the recession hit and I lost all of my fire jobs and I was really burnt out on working in Hollywood. Then I discovered Etsy a year ago and that really turned this into a full time business. Because of Etsy my hats are in stores, I have a fashion rep, and celebrity clients. A lot of worlds have opened up to me and within 18 months I became known as a designer (which is really strange to me, still.). The downside? I work around the clock right now building this business because it is so close to actually becoming something substantial.
Where do you get your materials?
I live biking distance to the amazing Downtown Los Angeles Garment District. There are literally hundreds of store with thousands of fabrics and notions at my very fingertips. I also use a millinery store that is very ancient and full of new/old stock. And I love Willie and the world famous feather supplier Mother Plucker. I have relationships with all of my suppliers so they always take care of me so that I get the very best materials available. Be nice to your suppliers and they will take care of you!
Where do you get your ideas?
It depends, sometimes from an old movie, or a book. Or maybe from the endless circus research I like to do on costuming. A lot of it, quite honestly, comes from Dr. Seuss. And Jim Henson’s Muppets. The Henson’s really know how to use feathers! I have a dream that someday everyone will be dressed in ridiculous hats again ala’ the movie Juliet of the Spirits!
Do you have a favorite item you make?
The easy ones!
Do you wear your own designs?
Of course! That is how I started. I make myself the best stuff. Sorry ladies. ;)
Do you do other kinds of crafts?
Where do I start? Let’s just put it this way- I can make anything. Art has been my full-time job for over 20 years. I do not know how to do anything else. I have been making and selling arts and crafts since I was 7 years old. Do you need a bread dough ornament or a full size fully operational 700lb horse? I can make either. I can operate every power tool known to man and use a dremel with a soft touch. I have even worked on construction crews in Death Valley in the summer building sets as the only girl. Making hats is actually a nice break from the real art world.
You are a circus performer and a fire eater??
Guilty as charged.
When not sitting alone in my house making hats, I am the World’s Biggest Show-Off also known as Miss Satanica. I also do contortion on a bed of broken glass, eat light bulbs, and I am a real Hollywood stunt woman. I am always working on new tricks, new shows, new costumes, and ideas for equipment. I make all of my own fire props, too, like my flaming parasol (also found on Etsy!). That’s how I stay in shape. I hate gyms so circus stunts seemed like the obvious way to stay in shape, have fun, and get paid for it!
[Photo credit – The Faces of Sunset by Patrick Ecclesine]
I have been really lucky, I have gotten to travel a lot, appear on TV and in movies, even model for photo shoots. It’s crazy. I never thought there was a place for a frizzy haired, chubby Jewish girl in Hollywood, but I guess I found a niche.
I am also a published writer, too, My next story is for a salon in Los Angeles for Heeb Magazine. I get around.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
Well my son will be out of college, hopefully by then, so I guess free as a bird, creating art and beauty and mirth while traveling all over the world! Pretty much the same things I do now! Life is beautiful!