ラビットファーとウールのフェルト帽体/POLKAP 社


In The Factory Every Maker Is Part of A Whole
A Concert Hall of Craftsmen And Women Making One Thing, Together


“They work next to the window where they get a lot of sunlight so that the color develops depth.” Women were wrapping rabbit fur around a spinning wooden shuttle as sunlight streamed in through a large window. We became dazed as we watched their skillful hands move about gracefully, when Mateusz, son of POLKAP president, offered an explanation of what we were seeing. Acknowledging the workers he said, “she started working here at POLKAP before I was born. I think it's been over 40 years. She's a skilled craftswoman who has been here since before POLKAP was established, when the factory was government-run during communist rule.”
Mateusz is young, only 21 years old, but is learning the ins and outs of business firsthand at POLKAP. We asked him if he intends to succeed POLKAP to which he replied modestly that he's nowhere near that stage. “There's still so much for me to learn.” He sounded more interested in the idea than he'd like to let on. The thoughtfulness and hospitality we experienced at POLKAP as these men and women showed us around felt at times even more considerate than what we've experienced in Japan. Mateusz continued deeper into the factory where the sound of machinery and lively laughter of working women echoed out.


“POLKAP manufactures about 600 felt hats per day. We only use wool and rabbit fur. The material goes through almost 90 steps in the manufacturing process, including hand blocking, steam treatment, dying, and molding to become a completed hat. Each of these processes require the participation of human hands, which is why these hats demand the delicate and complicated technique of our skilled craftsmen and women. I think we are one of the rare factories in the world that handle the entire process of creating felt hats starting with the raw materials. For example, having holes or uneven areas develop during any one of these processes effects the entire chain of manufacturing down the line. The skilled craftsmen and women must feel responsible for the entire process while focusing on their specific role.

工場の中は、スチームの熱気と染色剤の独特の匂い、そして働くひとたちの熱気に満ちていて、気を抜くとその場に座り込んでしまいそうになる。決して楽な仕事ではないはずです。だけど目があうとニッコリ笑顔が返ってくる、この力の源は何だろう? 笑顔が素敵なおばさんたちは、お揃いの可愛らしい花柄のユニフォームがとても似合ってて、その表情からはみんなでひとつのものをつくる喜びと団結心がうかがえます。歴史あるものづくりに従事する誇りと、時間をかけて培った技術に裏打ちされる自信。商品の完成に向けて高まる工場内の高揚感は、まるでクライマックスを迎えるオーケストラのよう。マチュアーハのフェルト素材もこんな職人たちの手で作られていることを知ることができて、とても嬉しくなってしまいました。

The hot steam, distinct smell of dying agents and the heat of the workers within the factory were at times overwhelming. It can't be easy work. But when any of our eyes met with those of the workers on the floor, a friendly smile was cast our way. What was the source of this strength? The craftswomen with lovely smiles looked great in their matching flower-print work uniforms. From their expressions we saw the joy and fellowship of making something together as one.
Pride rooted in their history of making things and confidence stemming from techniques cultivated through time… The building sense of elation as the factory approached completion in the production process at the end of the day felt like an orchestra coming to its final climax. In the end we felt a sense of satisfaction and happiness in finding that mature ha.'s felt materials were made in this factory by the hands of such talented and skilled workers.