In 2007 I decided I wanted to recreate Queen Lucy’s crown from the Disney movie for LionCon 2008, our Narnia convention. I started taking metalsmithing classes at a jewelry supply store in Pasadena and practiced to a point where I thought I could tackle this project. It is based on the original design by Jasmine Watson and is identical in every way that I could reasonably control.
NOTE: The process described below should not be attempted by anyone without proper training in metalsmithing and jewelry-making techniques and appropriate safety precautions. I will not be covering all necessary safety precautions in this article. In other words, if you don’t know what you’re doing, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.
Step 1: Plan the Pattern
This took a long time. The obvious starting point was the drawing in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Movie Companion, showing Jasmine Watson’s original design. Unfortunately, the design doesn’t match the crown in the movie, or not quite. I expect changes were made during construction and fittings. Then there’s the difficulty in the fact that the drawing only shows about the front middle third of the crown. Much more research was done using the large photos from The Wardrobe Door and by going through the movie carefully. In the end I had a design that seemed to make sense and seemed to be about the right size for an adult head.
Step 2: Create the Leaves
This was one of the easiest parts. It took time, but little skill. Referring to my plan, I drew the shape of each leaf on a piece of sheet copper, then cut it out with curved jewelry shears. After this each leaf had to be shaped to make it three dimensional. Laying each leaf on a soft piece of wood, I pounded on it from the back by hitting an old screwdriver with a hammer along the center of each leaf, sometimes curving the line a bit as the shape required. The leave would curve down into the soft wood, resulting in a natural, three-dimensional form when I was done.
Step 3: Create and Attach the Stems
Each leaf stem was made from a piece of thin copper wire which I tapered at one end by sanding it on an emory board. Once the stem was ready, it was laid carefully upon the leaf. Flux was painted onto the pieces and solder was applied, then melted. After a bath in the acid pickle and cleaning with dish soap and a brass bristled brush, stem and leaf were ready to be soldered together with other leaves to form sprigs, or applied directly to the main circlet as the designed demanded.
Step 4: Add Sprigs of Leaves to the Main Circlet
The “main circlet” is an undulating piece of wire to which many sprigs of leaves are attached. It is flattened in some places into a thin, ribbon-like section that can curl around various sprigs, and at the back of the crown the ends are finished in two more ribbon-like pieces. I hammered these areas flat on a steel block and shaped them carefully with needle-nosed pliers. Soldering the sprigs of leaves to the circlet was arguably the most daunting part of the job, made somewhat easier by the realization that a butane microtorch would be hot enough, and more controllable, to work on the delicate piece than a plumber’s torch (watches the professional jewelers laugh). I also used a lot of Wite-Out. Surprised? It retards the remelting of solder so your pieces don’t fall apart in areas you’ve already assembled. At least that’s what it’s supposed to do…and did I mention it sometimes catches fire from the torch? In addition to attaching sprigs and leaves, I also had to address the method by which I would attach the flowers when the metalwork was finished. In the end, I decided to cut discs of copper sheet using a circle punch and solder them onto the crown so that there would be a large enough area to which I could adhere each flower.
Step 5: Electroplating
I had my local jeweler send the crown out for this, as I did not possess the right equipment. When it came back, all the leaves and stems were a lovely, uniform, satin rhodium finish. More expensive than I expected. I would have made the whole crown out of solid sterling had I known it would cost so much.
Step 6: Cut and Shape the Flowers
I used a cutting wheel on my Dremel tool to cut thin disc-shaped shell beads into the small laurel blossoms, drilling a small hole in the center of each through which to place the stamens later. I used the cutting tool again to shape tiny darker shell beads into the AAA blossom. (Note for jewelry-makers: Shell dust is TOXIC. Research and take the appropriate precautions.)
The stamens: Using a technique called “balling”, I heated the tip of a piece of brass wire until it melted and balled up at the end. Then I cut the piece to length, cleaned it, and hammered the non-balled end flat. Sticking these flat ends through a drilled center hole in each laurel flower, I then folded them apart on the backside of the flower, a bit like three one-pronged brads. I hope this will help prevent them from falling out if the piece is ever bumped.