Since Valentines day is coming up, I made a tiara for my princess. I'm not sure if she'll ever wear it but, I hope when she sees it in her room she knows her daddy loves her. Now, time to make something better for her Mom =).
It's made from 14 gauge steel wire, silver solder, and pink hot fix crystals. This is how I made it.
Step 1: Set Up Your Materials.
You can get all the materials from your local hardware store. The only exception is the hot fix crystals. I got those from a craft store.
Materials list and approximate costs:
- Zinc coated steel wire: $10 for 100 feet.
- Silver solder and flux paste: $12 for the pack.
- Hot fix crystals: $3 for the pack.
This project will only take a fraction of your supplies so you will have plenty left for other projects.
When you get the wire it will be in a coil. Straiten it out by clamping one end in a vice and twisting the other end in a drill. A few twists and the wire will be straight as an arrow. I learned this trick here.
Is zinc coated wire (galvanized) safe to work with?!?! The short answer is YES. If you eat the wire then you might get sick. If you purposefully overheat large amounts of this wire you can get metal fume fever. You can read more about zinc and the human body here. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872358/
Step 2: Cut and Mark Your Pieces.
It's very easy to design your own tiara so, how many pieces you cut is up to you. This is my cut list though.
- 12" x 1 each, for the head band.
- 9" x 1 each, lower arc.
- 6" x 2 each, upper arc and cam lobe.
- 3" x 4 each, end pieces and lower arc pieces.
Mark the 9" piece in half with a fine sharpie. Do this as well for one of the 6" pieces.
Step 3: Form the Initial Curves.
I used a spray can to form the initial curves. Do this for the 9" and 6" pieces you marked in half.
At this point I also filed the ends of all the wires flat.
Step 4: Add the French Curves.
To do this step you need a section of tubing with a notch filed in the lip. You can get a good look at this in the 5th picture.
Start by bending in hooks at the ends of the wire with needle nose pliers. Make sure the hook follows the initial curve. Next bend the circle shape you marked at the halfway point so it looks like a pencil drawing of a bird. Place the hook on the end of the tube and roll it into the initial curve. Do this to both ends on the 9" piece. You'll also do this on the 6" piece but use a smaller diameter tube. Make sure the pieces lay flat. If not, adjust them so they do.
Step 5: Form the Center Lobe.
For the center lobe, bend the other 6" piece in half to about 45 degrees. Guessing the halfway point is OK here since the free ends will be trimmed off. Take a socket and form the lower portion by holding it with pliers and bending it around the socket. Cut off the free ends on the lower left hand "corner" of the lobe. File the ends so they line up.
Step 6: Design the The Rest of the Pieces.
All the rest of the pieces get a hook bent in and then curved using a notched tube. Again make sure your pieces lay flat. At this point use your pliers to crimp the hooks shut. These crimped hooks will be the mounting points for your crystals.
Step 7: Polish Your Hammer.
We are about to start flaring our wire. It's very important to use a hammer with a smooth face. If your hammer has nicks and scratches they will transfer with every blow. I am using my diesel ball peen hammer. I sanded out any marks with 220 grit sand paper and then polished it on a buffing wheel.
Step 8: Flare Your Curves.
Flare the curves with your hammer. Do this by hammering on the side of the curve which is perpendicular to the hair band. See the first photo. Crimp the ends again if they opened up from hammering.
Step 9: Soldering Prep.
Make sure your parts are clean. The cleaner they are the better joint you'll get. I used rubbing alcohol to clean up. Next, brush your parts where the solder will be placed. If you have never soldered, check out my tutorial. I like to hammer my solder flat and snip pieces off of it.
Step 10: Soldering From the Top.
I started soldering on a piece of aluminum. I did this because the steel will bond together but it will not bond to the aluminum. I used the edge of the aluminum to line up all the pieces that needed to be strait.
Once the solder melts and bonds to the wire it is a matter of seconds before the wire turns black. If the wire turns black, you have applied too much heat. You must remove this oxidation in order for the soldering process to work.
Step 11: Soldering From the Bottom.
Solder flows towards heat. You can get a stronger joint by soldering from the bottom. Do this for all the joints you can. The downside is how fast the wire heats up. Remember, too much heat ruins the joint.
Step 12: Bend the Tiara to Shape.
This is the nerve racking part. I used my propane bottle to bend in the circular shape. This puts a lot of stress on all the joints you just soldered. Place your fingers on the joints to help reinforce them while you bend. After you finish go through each joint. Some will have cracked. Others may have separated. One by one, brush on more soldering paste and reset each joint with your torch. Keep in mind, if you apply to much heat to a general area your tiara might de-solder and fall apart.
After this bend your 12" wire on a circular form. I use my propane bottle again. Solder your wire work to your head band.
Step 13: File and Polish.
Some of my joints had too much solder. I filed the excess away. After that I chucked a bar in my lathe and wrapped sand paper around it using a piece of tape. This removed any uneven marks from the flaring process. Last, I polished it with buffing compound on a buffing wheel.
Step 14: Add the Crystals
These crystals have a tiny amount of heat activated glue on their backs. I like to use a heat gun to get them hot enough while I hold them with a tool. I made this special little tool from a bullet shell. Isn't that funny? Bullet shells and tiaras? Sounds like another project or TV show.
Step 15: Clean Up.
The front is all shined up but the back still has some oxidation on it. Use fine steel wool to clean up any dark spots. To finish the head band I looped the ends and filled them with solder. Finally, wash off any polishing compound with soap and water. I find a toothbrush works well.
Thanks for reading.