Monday, October 24, 2011

Customer Tips: How to 'Zombify' Your RDB Tarp Hat

Pompton Plains, N.J., firefighter Ken Collucci happily came into possession of his second Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat recently. A longtime RDB fan, Ken knew that Real Deal hats tend to vary, often dramatically, from batch to batch; yet as fate would have it, his own second hat turned out to be pretty close in color to his first.

Ken obviously liked that color just fine (that's him at left in his well-worn original RDB). Just not twice over.

"Two hats of the same color?" he joked in his note to us outlining the steps he took to refashion the look of his second RDB. "NONSENSE!!! Options ... I like options! :)"

Ken had decided to go all Hollywood on his second hat, aiming to convert it to something close to the rich, dark hue of the iconic RDB of zombie-killer kingpin Tallahassee in the 2009 movie blockbuster Zombieland. 

He was, he said simply, gonna "zombify" his newest hat. 

Ken recognized that dyeing the hat alone wouldn't achieve quite the look he was after; actor Woody Harrelson's own movie RDB has, after all, a slight dull sheen to it, a cool quality created by the movie costuming department. So how could Ken achieve something similar to that?

"I figured a darker (hat) would look better after it was waterproofed," he told us. But a sprayed liquid like Scotchgard wasn't going to provide that little-extra-something effect; Ken instead chose beeswax, that age-old military method of waterproofing canvas.

So here are Ken's explicit instructions on proper hat zombification:

Items you will need:
An RDB Tarp hat (DUH!), RIT Dark Brown Liquid Dye (or any color of your choice), Kiwi Camp Dry Beeswax Waterproofer, a hair dryer or heat gun, a cold frosty alcoholic beverage.

To dye your hat:
In a large stock pot full of hot water, pour in half a bottle of the RIT dye and mix thoroughly. Pre-soak your RDB hat and (then) add it to the stock pot, making sure to saturate every inch of (the hat). Let it sit in the pot for 20-30 minutes, or until you reach your desired shade. Remove the hat and rinse with cold water and let dry overnight."

Ken's original RDB, at left, now his summer hat, and newer "zombified" addition.

Now on to waterproofing, which is apparently a slightly more complicated process than dyeing, involving soaking yourself a bit (!) as well to, y'know, get in the proper spirit of things.

Ken's waterproofing steps, including aforementioned "cold frosty alcoholic beverage":

To make your hat water-repellent:
1. Lay your hat out on an old towel or rag (using the good towels is NOT recommended). Drink for 3 seconds.

2. Using your fingers, slather copious amounts of beeswax into the brim, under the brim, and on the top of your hat. You do not need to slather up the inside of the hat. Drink for 3 seconds.
3. Work the beeswax in by hand until you have a consistent color and no clumps of wax visible. Drink for 3 seconds.

4. On a low setting, use a hair dryer or heat gun to melt the wax until it soaks into the hat. The towel will absorb any wax that seeps through. Drink for 3 seconds.
Let your hat sit overnight. Test your hat's repellency by using a spray bottle. Water should bead up on it. It is does, you have succeeded. Go have a beer!

Success! Ken's "zombiefied" hat, waterproofed.
"So far the waterproofing has been put to the test and it is holding up very well," Ken notes. "I have had to re-wax the seams when I realized I missed a few spots, but other than that, it's fine. Water beads up and runs off."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Zombies! Everywhere, Zombies! So This Halloween, Go Zombie KILLER Instead!


They’re soooo right now. You can send zombie greeting cards between hits on your zombie bong, scarfing Zombie Mints and looking altogether dead-ly in your zombie boxer shorts, wife beater and slippers. It’s a brave new corpsed-up world.

How zombified have things gotten, really? Google “zombie” paired with pretty much any other word, from A to, well, Zed, and you’ll get a legion of legitimate hits. “Zombie apple?" Ripe for the pickin’! "Zombie zeitgeist?” Well, duh! Just be prepared to unearth a little zombie kinkiness/nastiness as well. Because one Haitian voodoo daddy’s zombie cucumber is another person’s, um ...

So what’s a thoughtful tricked-out treatster to do this Halloween to stand out from the inevitable ratty horde of would-be rotting meatbags? Simple: Go the opposite of zombie! Get your dress-up on as the world’s most kick-ass zombie killer instead.


Rule Halloween night like a redneck king! Strut the zombie-choked streets as Tallahassee, the Twinkie-obsessed undead-dispatcher from the 2009 Hollywood smash hit Zombieland. See our simple costuming tips, immediately below.

rule #1: badass hat. The essential bit. For true Tallahassee attitude, only the right hatitude will cut it: Duding up in country-singer cowboy headwear is gonna miss the mark, podnah. The real thing, in this case, is the Real Deal Brazil, our genuine handmade-in-Brazil recycled-truck-tarp hat, chosen by Columbia Pictures’ costume department to give Tallahassee his crazy-ass sense of comic s***kicker cool. And once Halloween has melted back into the shadows, we’re confident your RDB hat will still be making mucho guest appearances atop your own crazy-ass cabeza.

rule #2: shades ’n’ scruff. Try the sunglasses-tree at just about any dollar store for suitable NASCAR-country-boy eyewear. And if you can’t muster up some fast whisker growth for a sloppy goatee, then dot your cheeks and chin with an eyeliner pencil for a quick patch of 5 o’clock hair-face.

rule #3: he-man neckwear. Wood beads, heavy chains, metal or fake-bone pendants. Kind of a Cracker Jacks-prize approach to men’s jewelry, really. Here again, any available dollar store should get you there.

rule #4: v-neck shirt. There’s something about a lowcut T-shirt that just says you’re badass. (Unless, of course, you’re a real lardass, and wearing sweatpants. Then it kinda says 3 a.m. Wal-Mart shopper instead.) Maroon is Tallahassee’s color, but any dark V-neck T should do the trick.

rule #5: leathers. You could probably pull off a jean jacket in a pinch, but Tallahassee is all about classic heavy leather, when he’s not seriously rednecking it up in snakeskin. Just not leather with too much sheen to it, and more motorcycle-style than bomber.

rule #6: the belt. Something with a big ol’ metal buckle.

rule #7: weapon holder, or (fake) weapon. The average leather gun holster is too small, but a leather sheaf for a long fish-filleting knife would do it, strapped to your belt, and then tied at the bottom around your left thigh with yet another belt. In the absence of that, just get yourself a toy rifle, or a toy AK-47, if such a thing is available at, y’know, Toy Guns ’R Us. The key word here is “toy.” Halloween surprise + packing real heat = bang, bang, someone’s bad-dead, not just funny-undead.

rule #8: classic denim. No designer “holes,” acid-washed streaks or black thread; the simple workin’ man’s denim-jeans standard, Levi’s, is best. To achieve that I’ve-just-endured-the-apocalypse feel, rub charcoal on your hands and then smear them on your thighs. You dirty little zombie-killer, you!

rule #9: boots. Cowboy, not biker. Suede or natural says serious boot-wearer, but snakeskin lends kick-ass redneck cred in a red-hot second.

other fun props. Jack Daniels bottle, Hostess Twinkies, banjo, long-handled pruning shears.*

* Note of caution: Hard liquor, mystery-cream-filled snack-cakes, poorly played bluegrass music and sharp garden implements can cause serious harm to the still-living.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Our Hats and Bags Are the Very Tarp of the Heap!

Real Deal Brazil founder Walter R. Perkins Jr. has a longstanding love affair with Brazil, and would likely find some excuse to get there even if work didn't periodically require it!

On his last trip there, Mr. P., as we all call him, got a couple snapshots of one of the coastal markets he likes to frequent, wandering around and looking at local wares. It was at just such a market in 2008 where Mr. P. chanced upon the prototype of our own distinctive headwear, which he later took to a remote inland town known for its hatmaking, employing a family sewing business there to modify the design into what has since become our classic Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat.

Coastal Brazilian market, No. 1.
Coastal Brazilian market, No. 2.
But Mr. P. returned from his most recent trip to the steamy south loaded down with a lot more than just photos and his usual stories to fill us with envy cuz we didn’t get to go with him! This time, he also brought with him a huge sheet of weathered old canvas truck tarp, that heavy, tightly woven cotton material at the very heart of what we do.

Our hats and bags are, of course, handmade from recycled tarps that once stretched across the beds of cargo trucks, like the ones in the photo immediately below.

Cargo trucks outfitted with protective canvas tarps.
In Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest country, most cargo is transported by trucks, their payloads frequently protected by such heavy canvas tarps, which wind up being pummeled by deluges of blinding rain, baked and broiled by scalding heat, whipped by harsh winds and assaulted by various road debris. By some estimates, there’s enough tarp barreling along Brazilian roads to cover the entire surface of the moon, and then some!

Above and below left, workers at the small São Paulo business that collects old truck tarps for us
to send to our sewing group in central Brazil.

In the last few years, enterprising small Brazilian businesses have begun buying up old tarps from trucking agencies, making all that road-seasoned canvas a bit more scarce than it used to be – though, happily, also helping to keep even more of it out of landfills. We work with a little company in Brazil’s largest city of São Paulo to secure recycled truck tarps for our RDB sewing group. (Click on the photo with the guy in the red shirt and all the bundled tarps, and check out the heels on our São Paulo business partner’s shoes; in Brazil, personal style never takes a holiday!)
The final photo, below, is of Mr. P. back in the U.S. of A., in hometown Greenville, N.C., holding up that recycled truck tarp he brought back from Brazil. (Note the cool printing on the tarp, which explains how snippets of Portuguese lettering and unusual graphics sometimes pop up on our hats and bags.)

Mr. P. back in the United States with a sheet of recycled Brazilian truck tarp.

The Real Deal Brazil – because one person’s old tarp is another’s new treasure!