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."


Dennis J. Dorner Jr said...

What kind of beeswax do you recommend??? Just a block of it or what?

Ken Collucci said...

I recommend KIWI Brand beeswax sealer.

David Steedley said...

If the hat gets wet or sweaty will the dye come off on your head. I'm going to dye my second hat blue and hoping the color will look good.

stanjohnson123 said...

How much water? I dont have a stockpot all i have is a big pvc bucket will that work? I love my hat it just needs to be darker.i tried it last night but it didn't take so either there is too much water or i didn't leave it in long enough

Brian said...

same problem here no stock pot...but I do have plastic buckets that would work...approx what was the dye ratio to water?

Ken Collucci said...

@David: The dye will not come off on your head. If you follow the proper instructions on the RIT dye package and rinse the hat thoroughly you'll be ok.

@Stan and Brian: Here are some instructions for dyeing using a bucket from RIT's website.