Back to All Events

El Rancho Carpintero Workshop

  • Suite E Studios 697 Higuera Street Suite E San Luis Obispo, CA, 93401 United States (map)

Come get your hands dirty and learn how to custom shape a hat like in the days of Alta-California. Ok, you won't really get dirty but there is a bit of water involved, so you will get your hands wet, which is all part of the magic.

Shaping hats by hand is a gateway to so much fun and once you get the hang of it, you can shape and re-shape your new hat body again and again like magic!  All you need is some special water that you care about, opposable thumbs, and an imagination.

This workshop will provide you with everything you will need to make your very own Hand Shaped Californio Sombrero. Please check out the photos for examples.

What is included:

- Fine quality Guatemalan Palma Blanca Hat Body with 3 inch brim for you to hand shape however you like.

- Hatband material made from Agave Sisalana or Antique Cotton.

- Patient, step by step encouragement and instruction.

All supplies needed for shaping your hat will be on hand for the workshop. You will not need to bring anything except your head, hands, and an eagerness to learn a new skill.

What we need from you:

If you know your hat size please choose it from the drop down menu. If you need to measure your head please check the photo for an example of where is typically best to measure. Please keep in mind there are a few factors to consider when measuring. For example, your hat size will be different after a drastic haircut, if you have a ponytail and of course, personal preference of where you like your hat on your head. If you wear your hat while riding horses you probably wear it lower on your forehead so it doesn't blow off. General rule of thumb is to measure around the middle of your forehead and 1/8" above your ear. The instructor will have a few extra hats on hand in case you need to change your hat size on the day of the workshop.


And now, a word from our instructor:


Here’s a little story about these sombreros. . .

Once upon a time, these fine sombrero de palma blanca were

many unopened palm leaves, growing on wild palm trees

near the mangrove swamps along Guatemala’s beautiful

southern coast.  These unopened leaves were then harvested,

sun-bleached, and hand-braided into long braids.  The braids

were then sewn on an old-timey (foot powered) treadle sewing machine into a hat body by a Guatemalan artisan . . . such as Pablo Lux.    :)

Each sombrero is signed on a tag behind the sweatband by the artisan who assembled it.  I will then provide a tag for you to sign your name on your new sombrero . . . that YOU shaped !

So, from Pablo in Guatemala, to me here at El Rancho Carpintero,

to you . . .

We so hope you join us for this Sombrero Shaping workshop.  

And another thing . . .

These are not city-slicker hats.  They are durable. They are rated 50upf, so they love sunshine.  But they are also great in the rain too.

Some more good news is that they love unexpected adventure . . . which could include sweat, dirt, (being tricked into) chores, roaring rapids, elbow grease, dusty road trips, gold nuggets, couch wrestling, vegetable gardens, tears :( ,Twinkie the kid, dirty fingernails, long days in the saddle, tying knots, fresh fruit, fiddlin, the beach, stampedes, rolling in the hay, dog slobber, and siestas in the hammock . . .  so get going!

I know that I like to shape and reshape my own sombrero all the time (and so might you) . . . I basically dunk my hat any time I am near a river or lake or stream. . . sometimes I like play with the shape of my hat when I am at a place having a great time with people that I love (like a BBQ or a wedding or a quinceañera).  Then I can take some of that time and place and experience with me in my sombrero forever . . . which only connects me that much more to the adventure of my life. Soon you will find that the adventure of your life is decorating your sombrero . . . that you shaped.

Maybe . . . Prior to the workshop . . . and after . . . see if you can keep your eyes peeled for talismans to attach to your hatband . . .  a feather or beautiful leaf or twig that is abundant at different times of the year in your neck of the woods . . . might be one way of celebrating the abundance in your life. . .

It’ll be fun :)

I look forward to meeting you.

Yours truly,

Justin Carpenter

El Rancho Carpintero

Please check out El Rancho Carpintero on IG to see great examples of these beautiful hats and the amazing people that enjoy them @elranchocarpintero.

Earlier Event: May 10
CBD Natural Beauty Workshop