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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lounge DIY: a vintage-inspired kitsch crown

Inspired by a vintage pipe cleaner crown, I wanted to make a New Years Eve headpiece, suitable for how excited I am about 2015! It turned out so perfectly I decided to make a lounge-y DIY tutorial--a super easy, sweet little project you can do from your bedroom.

The original crown was probably from the 1960s, and was decorated with gold painted leaves, plastic grape bunches, and black glass bead strands. I wanted to channel my own aesthetic into the idea, so I bought bunches of pastel roses, faux birds and cut crystal chains. This is a perfect way to use up those projectless findings in the bottom of your craft box.

You'll need:
  • High quality metallic tinsel pipe cleaners
  • 7 to 10 yards of beaded chain (I got mine from this Etsy shop--you could also use plastic bead strings or colored metal chain)
  • Millinery findings, like faux flowers, leaves, mushrooms, feathers, artificial animals... (anything with a wire attached will be the easiest to affix!)
  • Other cute findings like beads, rhinestones, bows...
  • Jewelry pliers and wire cutters (cheap scissors work, too)
  • Appropriate glue for any wireless pieces you might need to affix (E6000 is always a good bet, but I just used Elmer's!)

Bend one of the pipe cleaners into the shape of your crown. Once you have a shape you like, reinforce it by wrapping it with another pipe cleaner to give it fullness and make it sturdier.

Make your base. Test the size and shape on your own head, and finish the ends by folding them over and turning them into loops. You can use these to string a ribbon tie through, or to put bobby pins through to hold it in place. Reinforce the base by wrapping with another pipe cleaner.

Attach the crown to the base by wrapping another pipe cleaner around the base and through the lower loops of the crown. You can add multiple crown peaks like I did by repeating the process.

Use jewelry pliers to separate your beaded chain into sections; make them all short and fringe-y, varying lengths, the same length as your hair, down to your knees, whatever you like. Use the opened end of each separated piece to hook them onto one wire on the base of your crown. Use the pliers and close it around the wire. I tried my crown on frequently to make sure the chains fell nicely around my face, and varied between the brass and gold strands.

Start decorating! I started with the roses, wrapping the wire stems around the crown and using the jewelry pliers to tuck the ends in so they wouldn't poke the wearer.  This part is easy--you don't have to be very particular with the wires since the pipe cleaners disguise them. The flat pearls were originally part of a broken vintage necklace. I just glued them onto the crown-- easy!

I found the birds at a shop in NYC's flower district, and gave them some jewelry with some glue & tiny crystals left over from a different project.

The big wired pearls that are standing in as kitschy birds' eggs were only $1 on sale; I wanted a little sparkle so I coated some with glue and sprinkled white glitter all over them. The velvet leaves were leftovers too, and brought everything together into a big pastel woodland love fest.

After everything is affixed, it's nice to carefully wrap the base between the embellishments with one more pipe cleaner, to hide any messy spots and give it a bit more form.

The finished crown is magical, sweet, full of little surprises, and kind of ridiculous--everything you could want from New Years' Eve.

Happy 2015, chickadees 

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