How to make Arwen's butterfly headdress

Written by elizabeth chaplin
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How to make Arwen's butterfly headdress
Photo courtesy of Barbara Schaerfl

At the end of the popular movie "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," Arwen is seen wearing a beautiful silver butterfly headdress. The headdress features complex silver filigree, delicately hanging silver beading and a beautiful pointed forehead piece. Making your own butterfly headdress is a somewhat complex task that can take a few days, but the effect is very close to the original headdress. The final piece can be worn for a costume, wedding or other special occasion.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Butterfly crown pattern (link in Resources section)
  • Styrofoam wig head
  • Vinyl tape measure
  • 28-gauge tin sheet metal
  • 18-gauge aluminium wire
  • 28-gauge silver craft wire
  • Metal epoxy
  • Clear epoxy resin glue
  • Popsicle stick
  • Metallic silver spray paint
  • Metallic gold craft paint
  • Metallic silver craft paint
  • Metallic light green craft paint
  • Metallic aquamarine craft paint
  • Craft glitter paint; champagne, silver and crystal
  • Chrome enamel paint
  • Acrylic liquid laminate
  • Gossamer floss
  • 4mm jump o-rings
  • 6mm jump o-rings
  • 6mm silver crimps
  • Needle nose jewellery pliers
  • Glass seed beads in silver, light green and clear
  • Silver beading clamps
  • Variously sized beads (silver, light green and clear)
  • 4mm bicone beads (silver, light green and clear)
  • 6mm bicone beads (silver, light green and clear)
  • Tape
  • Etching tool
  • Tin-cutting scissors
  • Small hammer
  • Small flathead screwdriver
  • Flat scrap wood board
  • Rotary power tool with tapered grinding wheel
  • Fine tip paintbrush
  • Flat paintbrush
  • Beading needles

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Instructions

    Main Pieces

  1. 1

    Tape the pattern over the piece of tin and use the etching tool to trace around the outlines of the pattern. This will leave etch marks in the tin as guides.

  2. 2

    Remove the paper pattern and use the tin-cutting scissors to cut out the shape of the butterfly and the forehead piece.

  3. 3

    Cut out the delicate areas with the flathead screwdriver. Do this by placing the tip of the screwdriver on the appropriate line, then hammering the handle of the screwdriver down until it punctures the tin.

  4. 4

    Hammer the tin flat, since punching with a flathead screwdriver can cause ripples.

  5. 5

    Smooth the edges of the piece with the grinding wheel that is attached to the rotary.

  6. 6

    Bend the tin pieces by curving them around your head; this will create a custom fit.

  7. 7

    Smear the epoxy resin glue over the tin pieces using the Popsicle stick. Let the glue cure overnight.

  8. 8

    Curve and cut all of the wire pieces, using the pattern, with the 18-gauge aluminium wire.

  9. 9

    Attach the wire details to the main pieces using metal epoxy and let dry.

  10. 10

    Spray paint the main pieces with the metallic silver spray paint and let dry.

    Painting

  1. 1

    Mix a pea-sized amount of the metallic aquamarine craft paint with about one drop of metallic gold craft paint. This "peacock blue" will be for the outer coloured section of the butterfly piece.

  2. 2

    Paint the details on the butterfly section of the crown using the metallic gold, light green and "peacock blue" craft paint. Use the pattern as a reference when painting the sections.

  3. 3

    Paint over the metallic gold with the champagne sparkle paint, and over the light green and "peacock blue" with the crystal sparkle paint.

  4. 4

    Paint the butterfly's antennae with the metallic light green and a few coats of crystal sparkle paint.

  5. 5

    Paint the wires around the butterfly wings. The outside wire will be metallic gold with champagne sparkle paint; the middle wire will be metallic silver with silver sparkle paint; and the inside wire will be metallic light green with crystal sparkle paint.

    Beaded Wires

  1. 1

    Curve and cut the 28-gauge silver craft wire by using the pattern. These wires will be for the beaded wires, so make sure you are using the beaded wire parts of the pattern as a reference.

  2. 2

    Bead the wire using the glass seed silver, green and clear beads.

  3. 3

    Clamp the ends of the beaded wires with the silver beading clamps and attach the beaded wires to the headdress using metal epoxy glue.

  4. 4

    Attach a crimp to the pointed wire at the bottom centre of the butterfly-shaped piece with metal epoxy glue.

    Attaching the Main Pieces

  1. 1

    Measure the circumference of your head with the vinyl tape measure. Use this measurement to make the styrofoam head fit to your head size. Do this by adding paper maché or building up the styrofoam head with knit caps.

  2. 2

    Attach the front and back sections of the headdress around the wig head with several 6mm o-rings. Use the needle nose pliers to open and close the o-rings.

  3. 3

    Paint acrylic liquid laminate over the entire piece and let dry overnight.

    Beaded Gossamer Floss

  1. 1

    Place the crown on your head and measure from the ends of the crown to the top of your shoulders. This measurement will tell you how long the lowest hanging beaded section is. One end of the section will attach to the side of the crown, while the other end will attach to back of the crown.

  2. 2

    Cut six pieces of gossamer floss according to your measurements, leaving three inches of extra space to allow you to tie the ends to 4mm o-rings when finished beading.

  3. 3

    Cut two pieces of gossamer 2 in. shorter than the original six, two pieces of gossamer 4 in. shorter than the original six, and two pieces of gossamer 6 in. shorter than the original six.

  4. 4

    Begin beading over two of the longest pieces of gossamer with the variously sized light green, silver, clear and bicone beads. At about three inches, separate the two strands of gossamer and begin beading individually. This will give you a Y-shaped beaded floss. Tie 4mm o-rings at all three ends.

  5. 5

    Bead the remaining pieces of gossamer floss. Tie a 4mm o-ring to each end.

  6. 6

    Attach the double end of the Y-shaped beaded floss to the crimp and the single ends to the 6mm o-rings on each side of the headdress. These are the 6mm o-rings that were used to attach to two main pieces together.

  7. 7

    Secure the rest of the beaded floss pieces by attaching the 4mm o-rings to the 6mm o-rings. The floss should get shorter as you get closer to the top of the crown. The resulting look should be six U-shaped beaded sections hanging from each side of the headdress.

    How to make Arwen's butterfly headdress
    Photo courtesy of Barbara Schaerfl

Tips and warnings

  • Work in well-ventilated areas when using epoxy.
  • Wear protective gloves when punching and cutting tin.

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