Mad Hatter of Indy

Jodie Bailey in her studio surrounded by her work.
Jodie Bailey in her studio. Photo by Marc Lebryk.

Jodie Bailey, BA’06, MFA’10, is not just a hat maker. She’s a joy maker. Featured in the Fall 2018 issue of the IU Alumni Magazine, Bailey shared with writer CJ Lotz, BAJ’11, how she found her own inspired pursuit to help women going through medical hardships and experiencing thinning hair. The signature beret she developed features a luxuriously plump top, like a puffed-up mushroom cap leaning over for a good look at the world. But Bailey doesn’t only make berets. Her work spans from the whimsical to the downright wonderful. Check out three of her creations below and hear how each one came to life from the joy maker herself.


A lone feather has numerous cultural connotations and can also hold deep personal meaning to an individual. When I found a vintage 10-inch rhinestone feather, I thought of my mother’s long-lost pin collection and the old wives’ tale that you don’t find a feather, a feather finds you. “Deedee” met her unexpected owner the day after she left my work table, so I named the hat after the lovely lady who was found.

A rhinestone flower with a decorative crystal feather on top of a beret.
The Deedee. Photo courtesy of Jodie Bailey.


When I was in high school, my father took me to the Kentucky Derby, instilling a fascination for the sport and its traditions born of English aristocratic horse racing. The derby hat, originally intended to shade the wearer, grew to ostentatious proportions at the turn of the 20th century. It has evolved today into a means of outlandish display and whimsical self-expression. “Dottie” was inspired by a fantasy of what that girl of 16 might have worn so long ago if she had been born into the “horsey set.”

A wide-brimmed polka dot hat featuring a bow.
The Dottie. Photo courtesy of Jodie Bailey.

The Mark

A yellow #2 pencil holds many meanings for me. It is the tool of an artist, scribe, and builder. Its trace is malleable and erasable. It’s consumed in the course of fulfilling its purpose. “The Mark” consists of 170 hand sharpened pencils arranged in the shape of a Tower of Babel, supported on a wire frame covered in curls made of lines from my journal. Deeply intimate private thoughts are made illegible, and communication is distilled to a purely visual language.

A tall hat made of #2 pencils sitting on top of a curly wig made of paper.
The Mark. Photo courtesy of Jodie Bailey.

Bailey was featured in the Fall 2018 issue of the Indiana University Alumni Magazine, a magazine for members of the IU Alumni Association. View current and past issues of the IUAM.


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Written By
Nicole Montella
Nicole, BAJ’14, is a former content specialist with the IU Alumni Association.