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The Ramblings of a Seamstress, Gardener, Chicken Keeper, and Housewife

Proof of My Adventures (and Misadventures!)

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The Making of a Crown

Now that the big reveal has happened, I thought it was time to share a little of how I made Shane's crown.

Shane's Crown front

I started by google searching images of crowns. I looked at whatever I could find: current royal crowns, portraits of crowns from the past, and even costume crowns. Once I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted, I started gathering supplies.

Tools and Supplies - Shane's Crown

I got the brass from two different online lamp supply stores. Do a google search for 'brass lamp banding' and you'll get a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and prices. Some brass is sold by the foot (like the fancier brass with the fleurs) and some is sold in sections of several feet (like the plainer banding, which came only in 10' increments.) Next, I ordered some 1/16" hollow brass rivets and a the BeadSmith EZ Rivet tool, which has an end that punches a hole and an end that sets the rivets. Finding a focal piece for the top of the crown was a little trickier, but I managed to find a brass lamp finial on Ebay that was perfect. It came pre-threaded for a 1/4" fine screw which is a slightly unusual size, but I tracked down a bolt for it at Ace Hardware. The brass came unpolished, so I also got some jeweler's polish, buffing pads for my Dremel, and some finishing wax. I already had some velvet and satin on hand, but I did have to buy a ridiculous amount of rhinestones from JoAnn's. They have big bags of them (sold by the pound!) so I got one of those.

I started off by polishing all the brass banding. I roughly estimated how much of the less fancy banding I'd need to use and only polished that amount, since polishing turned out to be far more time consuming than I'd anticipated. It really made a difference though, and I think all that time spent clutching my Dremel was totally worth it! Here's a scrap that is half-polished:

Polishing the Brass - Shane's Crown

Then it was assembly time. I want to stress that it's better to make a crown like this bigger than the intended wearer's head size, then pad it out if necessary. I made the crown exactly the head size I measured, which happily allowed me to match the motifs on the individual bands. Unhappily, it meant I had to drill out rivets and make the crown bigger after the (almost) final fitting. That is not a happy situation to be in - learn from my mistake so you don't make it too! I won't go so far as to say that brass can shrink with handling, but I will say that once all the weight of the brass and its decorations hit someone's head, they'll want some wiggle room for padding.

I assembled the bands that would become the crown's base first. I shaped them into ovals, using plastic padded jewelry pliers to help turn in the ends which stubbornly wanted to stay straight. I riveted each individual band to size first, then riveted them together at a few points for stability. Then I played with placements and lengths for the upper bandings. There was no magical formula there, just visually referencing my google search from before and winging it. Once I had something I liked, I riveted it all together, drilled a hole for the top focal, and bolted it on.

Brass Frame - Shane's Crown

Then it was time to figure out the velvet lining. My velvet is drapey, so just gathering a circular piece and stuffing it into the frame wouldn't have worked. I briefly considered riveting the velvet to the upper bandings to save time, but I wasn't entirely sure it would hold up and didn't have time to test the theory. Instead, I made a buckram frame and draped it with velvet.

Buckram Base - Shane's Crown

Draping Velvet - Shane's Crown

There's no picture of my finished drape, but it was just pleated to the sides and sewed down. I'm not one to leave buckram showing on a commission, so I cut some satin for a lining and machine embroidered a 'T' for my friend's LARP name, Tugen.

Embroidered Lining - Shane's Crown

I made a small velvet band to cover the raw edges of the velvet, satin, and buckram that also served a padding for the crown. I riveted it to the bottom band of the crown's base, but I'm honestly not sure how well it will hold because the rivets are so small. Time will tell.

All that was left was to glue on the rhinestones. That big bag of rhinestones served me well, but I still dipped into my personal stash a bit. The combination of the two bandings really allowed me to use a wide variety of sizes and shapes of stones. Everything is glued down with Gem-Tac, which has worked well for me in the past. I found it was helpful to sit near a fan and allow the dabs of glue to get slightly tacky before placing the stones. The curved shape and many vertical edges of the crown made it so the stones easily shifted and slid due to gravity if the glue wasn't tacky.

None of my photos truly capture the shine of the brass and extreme bling of all the rhinestones. I tried lots of different lighting and times of day, but something is just lost when I take the photos. Such is life when you're on a deadline!

Front Closeup - Shane's Crown

Focal - Shane's Crown

Side - Closeup

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Beautiful! I need to make a gold crown like this someday. Thank you for sharing!

Thank you! It was a lot of fun making this one. :)

Beautiful job! (So weird that the last two posts showed up but the ones before it didn't!)

Thank you! Yeah, that is weird about the posts. LiveJournal must've had a hiccup or something.

So strange! I mean, I would have noticed the pics of all the costume stuff related to the crown above. Oh well, sorry about that!

That's so awesome!!! Thanks for the construction pics!

Thanks! I'm happy to share! :)

Wow, that came out beautifully!! I love it!

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