The musings of Alexis Doktor
A while back a woman from Naturally Crowned Carolina reached out to me because I was told that a fellow professional had “sung my praises” and would I be open to making this year’s crown. Well of course I would! I had seen pictures from previous years, and loved that they are all unique and handmade. How exciting would this be! And then I saw their inspiration photo. I immediately recognized it as an image from Miss G Designs – an outstanding headpiece designer, who Ive admire for quite some time. If you like anything having to do with over the top fashions or costume design, you should definitely check her out! This was the stunning crown they fell in love with:
A beauty, right? And seriously big shoes to fill! So I immediately got to work. I have made some ballet headpieces in my day. I’ve made some crowns and tiaras. And a few years ago I even had to completely undress and recover an already existing vintage Vegas showgirl headdress for the ballet Cleopatra! But I’d never done anything of this scope from scratch. I started with some research on hat frames. Not liking the cost (and the wait time) for a custom cap, I decided to create my own. I ordered a variety of buckram hat frames from hatsupply.com. (They have a great selection and great prices if you are in the market for your own!) And then I moved on to feathers. Miss G describes some of her feathered headpieces as “vegan friendly” or “faux feathers.” That sounds great on paper, but this category of feathers doesn’t really exist anymore unless you’ve hit the motherload of vintage plastic feathers
which are really hard to come by these days (the nice ones at least), or you have the time to make your own feathers out of tulle, natural feathers are the best way to go. You can usually order them by the pound, if you need more than a dozen, and the color selection these days is pretty outstanding! I went with a champagne color, which turned out to be a bit pinker than I expected, buy it worked out great with my fabric selections later. I love happy accidents! So, back to the hat frames… When my box came in I played around with different combinations, and ended up loving the small tear drop cap and tiara standing piece the best. After hand stitching the two together, I spray painted them with a light gold metallic spray. I felt the natural white may be too bright under the fabric I chose to cover it with.
Always spray paint outdoors, or in an extremely well ventilated area. This is my trusty Styrofoam paint head. Styrofoam has a tendency to breakdown when certain chemicals (like in spray paint) hit it, so I try to reuse the same one as much as possible for painting. Once the paint dried, I was able to cover it with my fabric. I chose a gorgeous piece that was partially embroidered and partially sequined, and on a mesh back – hence painting the frame. I covered the front tear drop, but not the front tiara as I would be placing the feathers there. Before I covered the back, I added an adjustable elastic strap (think bra strap) so that it would be able to accommodate different size heads, and different thicknesses of hair.
And now the fun part! Attaching the feathers. First I had to measure them. I would be adding a piece to the front once the feathers were attached, so I knew they had to be tall enough to rise above that piece without being so tall that they might become vulnerable to bending and breaking. Slowly the feathers went on. And of course I checked the progress as I went along to make sure they sat the same on a human head as on my wig head. The feather ends were tucked behind a fold of fabric I intentionally left unglued when I attached the fabric to the front.
Once I had attached all my feathers in their appropriate (and pre-organized) order, all I had left to do was attach the crowning jewels. Center front was my favorite piece. I cut out specific shapes from an embroidered and heavily beaded fabric to fit the shape of my piece, and then put on the Swarovski crystals one by one by hand. I used more of that fabric and crystals to finish the edges of the tiara piece as well. And then it was done!
Here’s a look at the winner. Isn’t she stunning?!