Majella Lennon Dalton – Ireland

Children of Lir

Category: Modern


“CHILDREN OF LIR” (pronounced Leer)

The theme of Fusion works in two levels in this design.

1.The Inspiration and symbolism behind the design – (Mythical swans with human voices human/animal fusion)

This piece named “Children of Lir”, was inspired by the Celtic folktale of a stepmother driven by jealousy who uses magic to turn her four stepchildren into a fusion between swan and human for a 900 year sentence. They implored her to put some limits on the spell. Seeing what she had done, she relented a little. She allowed them to keep their human speech and gave them the gift to sing the beautiful music of the Sidhe, which would be the most beautiful, peaceful music ever to be heard. The songs would calm the most troubled heart.

I wanted to try to capture this in the design. The swan often symbolises purity and light and for that reason I chose a winter white as the colour for the fabric.
The structural thermoplastic painted elements represent the wings but are not as sharp as feathers or wings, they are softer and lighter and the swirling protrusions are reflective of the soft musical notes emanating from the swans during their captivity.

2. The fusion of traditional techniques with modern materials and production techniques.

This design brings together both traditional and modern techniques. The base has been blocked in buckram and is covered in a cream fabric and is hand stitched. The large bell shaped thermoformed embellishment is by contrast very modern and has been primed and coated to match.


  • Thermoplastic material
  • Acryllic paint
  • Acryllic primer
  • Wire
  • Buckram
  • Cream waffle fabric
  • Thread
  • Silk petals
  • Elastic
  • Lining


  • This headpiece is a fusion of modern thermoplastics materials with a traditional blocked base and hand stitching.
  • The base has been blocked in buckram using traditional methods.
  • It was covered in a cream waffle fabric.
  • Each individual structural frond was thermo-formed over a fixture and hand manipulated to get the desired shapes.
  • Each frond was then primed using an acrylic primer and painted to match the base.
  • Individual silk petals were inserted into the fronds which were then sewn onto the base .
  • Once assembled the piece was fitted with elastic and a lining.
  • The colours used symbolise purity and the materials are very light to ensure an ergonomic design.

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HATalk Issue 140 (November 2017). Cover hat by Veronica Marucci.

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