My friend Jen is involved in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream by the Britches and Hose Theatre company in Virginia. My friendship with Jen goes way back to the earliest days of my prior career as a tiara designer and manufacturer, when I designed a custom headpiece just for her that ended up becoming one of our most popular designs. I transitioned away from tiaras to focus on Tikkido a couple years ago, but I still have all the equipment and supplies in my garage. You know, for tiara emergencies. We all have those, right?
Anyway, when Jen asked if I might be willing to make a tiara for Titania, the Fairy Queen, in their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, of course I said yes! I would have said yes even if Jen hadn't offered to make me a pair of her amazing handmade knitted socks, for the record. I love getting to play with jewels and crystals and metal again--especially when I get to be free and creative with the design!
The production is being styled with fairly modern costuming, so I wanted to create a tiara that would reflect that, as well as pick up on woodsy, whimsical, nighttime touches.
Materials for Making an Organic, Modern Wire-Wrapped Tiara:
- crystals and beads in various sizes, shapes, and colors
- 24 or 22 gauge wire
- plain metal headband
- tiara base
Cut a length of wire about a yard long to start. Wind one end around the plain metal headband. Thread a bead on the wire, then wrap the wire around the headband one or two times (I like to mix it up). Repeat, until you've used up all the wire.
Push the wrapped wire of beads right off the end of the headband, and you'll be left with a crinkly, beaded wire.
Now stretch out the crinkly, beaded wire, until it looks about like this. We want to keep the crinkles and waves, but we don't want them to be quite as dense as when it first comes off the headband.
Wrap one end of the wrinkly, beaded wire around the end of a tiara base. I used to order these awesome tiara bases from a company in NYC called U.S. Comb, but I can't find them anywhere on the web aby more. Maybe they're still around, maybe they're not. If you can't find a tiara base like this, you could certainly use the plain metal headband we used earlier as a tiara base. When I have to use a headband as a tiara base, I always use a pair of large lineman's pliers to cut off a couple inches from the ends and smooth the sharp edges with a carborundum stone. If you don't trim the headband down, you'll end up with the metal ends flaring out strangely from the side of your head. Headbands are just not quite the right shape to turn sideways and become tiara bases without a little modification.
Smush some of your beaded wire together, and wrap it around the base (wrap around TWO times to secure it). Smush a little bit more, this time making it just a wee bit taller, and wrap around the base two times again. Keep going, building up to the tallest point at the center of the tiara. I believe "smushing" is the technical term for this technique.
If you'd like a large center crystal, wire that seperately. Just thread the wire through the large crystal, and twist the two ends of the wire tightly together. Wrap around the base of the tiara at the center point. Trim away excess wire.
Here are a couple examples of this technique on a couple of my bride customers from years past. I've always loved this modern tiara design technique.
If you're confused about this process and these still photos aren't doing it for you, I've made a video showing how I made the tiara, too!
If you want to see my tiara in action, be sure to attend a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream this weekend, presented by the Britches and Hose Theatre Company in Vienna, Virginia
And if you go, you'll also get to see the other headpiece I made for the show. It was originally just because I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to take for Titania's crown, and I was on a roll, but the Director decided that the second one would be perfect for Hermia in the last scene. Tiaras for everyone! Well, maybe not for Nick Bottom. Those donkey ears would get in the way.