Art and Design

Printers’ Hats

Artists who made prints and people who printed books or newspapers used to make square hats for themselves out of large sheets of paper. It was probably to keep warm in cold workshops. They could make a new paper hat easily if one got ink on it.

The artist and typographic designer Eric Gill often wore a printer’s hat. He drew himself wearing one in his self-portrait. Carpenters wore paper hats too. You can see one in an illustration of the Walrus and the Carpenter by John Tenniel for Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass.


You can make your own printer’s hat. Or if you don’t want a hat, you can turn it upside down as a fruit bowl.


You will need a large sheet of newspaper or plain paper. It will have to be about 72 x 58 cm to fit your head. If you only have a smaller piece of paper you can try the ideas anyway.

  • Stop and start the video and follow the steps to make your hat.
  • You could experiment with painting the paper with stripes or other designs.
  • If you have a spare hat, unfold it to look at the creases. You will see squares and right-angled triangles. Many of the triangles are bisected by folding to make two congruent triangles.