Design Time: who knows
Construction Time: one day
Feeling like a princess: timeless
This diadem was made for me by my sister Bridget to wear to a Twelfth Night party. My inspiration came from this funeral wreath from the Getty Villa (saw it in person this summer – oh my gosh!) and Sarah Brightman’s La Luna crown.
Step 1 - the ingredients
To bring out the metallic embroidery and sequins in my gown I purchased 3 decorative sprigs from Pier One. Bridget took the sprigs apart to use as elements in the diadem. She also made wires with pearls and other decorative elements to fill out the design.
Step 2 - wiring pearls
To make the pearl strands 28 gauge wire was used.
To begin, one pearl was threaded and placed in the middle of a piece of wire, which was then bent leaving the pearl on top. The wire was twisted by hand (using the pearl as leverage) until the next pearl was added. This next pearl was threaded on one side of the wire, and the wire was then twisted around and below it. This continued until the piece of wire ran out.
Step 3 - the base
Two head bands were used to make the base, which was wired together in a cross-link pattern using 20 gauge wire. This was done by wrapping one strand of wire diagonally across the two bands (twisting around one or the other in turn), and then applying the second strand of wire diagonally in the opposite direction, causing the two wires to cross between the head bands.
Step 4 - applying the elements
This view shows the diadem with only a few strands applied. In order to wire on the sprays and strands, a pair of jewelry pliers/cutters were used (Wal-Mart, $5). These are worth the money, because they have rounded tips and are designed for this kind of work.
To keep the amount of material well balanced, the sprays were applied starting from the center front, and then moving along both sides at the same time. The center back was then completed and the central pearl (wired using 24 gauge) was added and stabilized with other pearl strands. The head bands were originally designed to sit on the head as you see them here (and below), so the pearl was placed straight up, in order to be the central focus.
Each strand was placed in its desired spot and at its desired height, with the remaining wire hanging down, the wire was then wound around the band in one direction and then in the other, giving more stability than simply winding in one direction. The trailers were then all wrapped in the same direction going toward the ends of the head bands (at the ends of the bands, the wires were wrapped going up).
Step 5 - finished: phase one
Here is the diadem as it was originally completed, modeled by Bridget & Bjaren. The front strands were made to mostly stand up, while those on the back band were set at a 90° angle to the band so that they would fall over the hair (seen best on the bear in the aerial view).
Step 6 - finished: phase two
When I tried the diadem on for the first time I found it needed some tweaking. These views show the diadem in its "Jenny approved" condition. In the end the crown was worn with the head bands perpendicular to their original orientation, as can be seen above. The "crown" was completed by simply wiring two of the end strands together to fit my head. The strands and sprays were then bent according to my direction (down in the back and up in the front), with some sprays being wound inside the base framework. The front pearl was bent to hang over the forehead, and the diadem was complete!
Note: Nothing was added or removed between phase one and two, the wires were simply bent into the desired shapes. As I told Bridget, "this thing is sturdier than it looks!"
Step 7 - debut
The debut of the completed masterpiece!
My hair was rag curled, pinned up loosely,
Many thanks to darling Bridget for making the diadem, taking pics along the way,
then cascaded over the back of the diadem, covering the joined wires in the back.
helping me with this text and generally putting up with my nonsense. Thanks Luv!