(Printed book £40 plus p&p; downloadable
Reviewed by Heidi Patterson
This review of The Hood completes my evaluations of Catasta Charisma’s trilogy (so far) of substantial manuals on latex design and crafting.
The Hood, published in 2017 and running to 200 pages, was the first of the three manuals. Catasta — aka Heath Clark — followed it in 2018 with The Compendium of Rubber Garment Making, a weighty 668-page tome reviewed for our June 2018 cover story.
The Hood is available in printed book form or downloadable PDF, while its Compendium sequel and his newest manual, the 530-page Working with Latex (our December 2019 cover story) come in PDF format only.
And so to The Hood — subject of this review. A decent hood is probably the toughest garment to get right in latex, which helps explain the typically months-long waiting times from designers who do get them right.
The demand for properly tailored hoods far exceeds the supply of them — and of artists able to craft them consistently. Heath is characteristically honest about his own struggles in this department.
He says: “After approximately a thousand pages of writing I had come to understand a lot about how two-dimensional scraps of fabric could be shaped into three-dimensional forms that would fit the body.
“But one particular garment, the hood, was always elusive. I had made hoods; I’d had my head wrapped in tape on which seams were then drawn, the sections cut up and the tape peeled off my head to leave me with templates.
“But I didn’t have a real concept of how to make such templates through drawing them from body measurements. Eventually, however, things began to click.
“The more things I made and the more I wrote about how the things were made, the clearer things became. Out of all this came this book.”
In his foreword to The Hood, Heath stresses that it isn’t a pamphlet with premade patterns.
“Instead,” he explains, “it’s a book that attempts to show you how you can make any particular style of hood you might wish to.
“From this book you could literally make hundreds of different styles, and to any set of measurements.
“It is therefore a book for those people more interested in wanting to learn how to make hoods and not for those who simply want to make a hood.
“The book requires you to make your own pattern but I have endeavoured to make this as simple as I can because I know it can seem incredibly daunting.”
So you’ve been warned, straight off the bat. But this book, like the most patient tutor, will guide you through every step, and anchor you in the essentials that any hood maker will have to learn perfectly in order to get the basics right.
There are seemingly zillions of special measurements you will learn to take and record before these essential elements can be plotted on paper to form your template.
The Hood includes close to 30 pages on just getting started with the pattern, including truing the pieces up, and adjusting them for your own unique human shape.
Of course, once the pattern is actually plotted, adjusted and cut out with the proper markings and seam allowances, the challenge lies in the actual gluing together of very fiddly pieces.
The illustrations and explanations for all this are very clear, and may seem like an awful lot to digest, but really are essential to the success of the finished product.
If you possess the patience and dedication, this guide will allow you to create your very own system mask, or alien hood, or practically anything else your heart desires.
Further sections discuss how to decorate your creations with appliqués, ruffles, inflatables, stuffed and hand-painted elements — all of which can be applied to every other kind of latex clothing. This is where the creations really stand out!
Beautiful photographs throughout this publication showcase Heath’s artistry and show off latex at its most glorious, creative best.
In all, it’s a worthy volume of knowledge from a generous soul. My one slight disappointment is that the book steers one towards the ‘boxy’ nose style — the standard flat nose similar to those you’d see from Libidex for example.
A tailored nose with or without nostrils is very fiddly to glue and cut. The more difficult tailored nose style is discussed here by the author, but there are no detailed instructions for drafting and making a hood with such a nose.
Perhaps this omission will be addressed in the update of The Hood currently in progress? Heath intimates that in the future, ready-to-go hood patterns definitely will be on offer.
“At some point next year,” he says, “I hope to release a whole collection of patterns for hoods irrespective of people’s skill levels.
“I am currently collecting measurement data from a survey I’m running, because information for a sufficient number of standard head measurements is lacking.
“Participants will be entered into a draw, and may either win a custom-made hood or the eventual patterns.”
In the meantime, do dive head first into The Hood’s welcoming depths. We’re dying to see what you create! You can purchase the book and the PDF from the weebly.com link below.
Alternatively, for those requiring instant gratification, there are a couple of hood patterns available now in the Catasta Charisma Etsy store at £11.99 each.
But do note that a standard hood pattern like these won’t be to your own dimensions. And I suspect successful execution of these designs will require a substantial amount of latex-making experience.
Below are links to the website where you can purchase The Hood in its digital or print formats, to the Etsy shop where you can buy hood patterns, and to my Fetishistas reviews of the other two manuals.
Published December 13, 2019