Welcome to part two of my process for creating an Elvish crown! If you haven’t already, make sure you read part one about the inspiration and design for this project first.
Wirework for the Elvish Crown
I collect wire whenever I can find it. It seems like it’s rather difficult to find the right quality of wire at regular craft stores. Things might be a little different now. I think Michael’s is starting to carry better wire than they were a few years ago. Anyway, I have quite a bit of wire on hand to choose from so I was able to start right away. I read somewhere on the website where I found the Galadriel’s crown pattern (see part one) that the best wire gauge to use was 18. I had quite a bit of that gauge so I started measuring and cutting.
Because wire comes all gathered together in those spools, I needed to straighten out a length so I could work with it. I unwound a bit of it and ran my fingers and straightening plyers over it a few times to make it more workable.
I wasn’t quite sure how to start with the pattern, but I just went for it, doing the best I could. My pattern called for 1 long wire, and 4 shorter wires. The longest wire had the loop in the center of the forehead. That one seemed to me to be the most important to holding the pattern together, so I started there. I cut a long wire at least 16″ long making sure I left a couple inches extra wire on the end so I could fix any problems that may occur.
Gently bending the wire in half to find the middle, I created the loop, using a small wooden dowel to make a nice, even, round shape.
Holding the loop to the pattern, I began shaping the wire along the pattern lines. It was a little tricky getting it to bend where I wanted without moving and changing what I had already done, but I got it done. After doing one side, I flipped the wire over and did the other half (because, if you remember, the pattern is only 1/2 of a head long).
At this point, I decided that hammered wire would look so much better than the plain round wire, so I got out my little jewelry anvil (it’s so cute!) and started hammering the wire I had just shaped. I was a little worried that the hammering would stretch it or distort the pattern I just finished bending into the wire, but it held pretty well.
I realized later that I was so engrossed with my little project that there I was obliviously working on it till 2:00 AM… hammering away, forgetting how loud it is! Sorry, my sleeping family!
I cut, shaped, and hammered the other 4 wires without mishap. Then came the troubles.
Going Off Pattern *gasp*
I tried several times to put this baby together. When I was designing my pattern, I thought I probably had enough tension in that center area (with all the interweaving over and under) to hold the wires together for the most part, and that when I wove them together, they would be fairly sturdy and I could just wrap a couple of joints to make it secure. Well, I thought wrong.
The tension clearly wasn’t near enough. Not only that, I was having a terrible time trying to weave the the wires together. I couldn’t get them to stay put and it looked terrible. The flattened ends of the shorter wires that were supposed to be beside the middle loop looked terrible, and when I tried it on, they dug into my forehead in a way that looked bad and wasn’t comfortable.
Then, because of all my wire wrangling, I had a small disaster. The center loop broke! Turns out, when I hammered it, I had hammered the top wire into the bottom wire, making a big dent that couldn’t handle the tension and stress of weaving. So there I was with the centerpiece broken and the whole thing falling apart. *sigh*
This last occurance was actually a blessing in disguise. Because I now had to deal with a broken loop problem, I had an idea that changed and fixed my whole pattern. I had two choices: scrap the wire and re-do that piece, or fold over the end and make a joint. I chose the latter. As I did that, I noticed that adding the joint made the tension feel right, so I started looping and joining the other wires as well. This technique fixed all the problems I was having with tension, and also the problem I had with it digging into my head.
I was glad I figured out a way to fix my mistakes, but now I had completely changed from what my original pattern was. I decided just to run with it, and to try and make what I had look nice. Worst case senario: it was a complete disaster and I had to start over from scratch. Not too terrible of a WCS, I thought.
After I kind of had it all put together, I started wrapping the most important joints with a smaller gauge wire (22-24 gauge, if I had to guess). I read about this joint technique, again, on the site I got the Galadriel’s Crown pattern from. The other, more professional way to join wires is to sauter them, but that is beyond my skills at this point in time.
After finishing all the joints, it still needed…. something more. I thought some more wires might help, and the smaller wire would make a nice accent to the larger ones. After playing around with various ideas, and making it look decidedly worse, I finally found a design that added that little bit of somethin’ I was looking for.
I made my way to the ends and finished them off, being careful to tuck away any little pokey ends of wire. I got out my E600 (best glue on the planet) and glued some flat-backed swarovisky crystals to the biggest (and unsightliest) joints in the middle. After showing it to my family, the concensus was: more bling. So out came the glue again and I added a few more crystals.
I think it turned out rather well! There were a few heart-failure moments in there, but overall it was a fun experience, and I learned a lot about tension, wire hammering, larger wire projects in general, and how to make wire patterns. The crown sits very well on my head and it’s super comfortable. I’m very much looking forward to wearing it to the Hobbit opening, just a short month away!!!
Here are a few more pictures of it from different angles and such. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!