December 23, 2012

DIY Tinsel Crown/Kokoshnik Perfect for a Christmas, New Year's, or Birthday Party

Kokoshniks are a big part of traditional Russian dress for women, and vary from simple cloth and ribbon versions to more modern and elaborate diamond interpretations. Even Queen Elizabeth II owns one! Inspired by this kokoshnik tiara worn by Princess Dagmar/Empress consort Maria Feodorovna of Russia and by kokoshniks worn at the 1903 Ball in the Winter Palace in Russia, I decided to make my own version using a headband and metallic pipe cleaners. (Image from Sartorial Order of Splendor.) 

This is a quick and easy project, and the resulting crown is great for Christmas parties, New Year's Eve soirees, or fun birthday celebrations.

I decided to do Mardi Gras-esque colors, but this would also be great in all one color. I think next time I'll do just gold, or silver, or maybe even blue!

I'll be using blue metallic pipe cleaners to show you the steps.

First, find a headband. I bought a  pack of cheapo ones at my local CVS. They were less than 5 dollars, and  included many different styles. I thought the teeth on the underside of this one would be perfect for helping to keep the rays of the kokoshnik evenly spaced apart.

I got my pipe cleaners at a local dollar store. I went with metallics, but you could use regular ones as well (but let's face it, sparkly is always better than non-sparkly when it comes to crowns, right?).

I held up a pipe cleaner to the middle of the headband to decide how long I wanted the first ray/spike to be. I then measured and doubled it. It ended up being around 5 inches, but do whatever height you like!

I bent the pipe cleaner in half, and sandwiched it around the headband like this.

Then I twisted the two parts around each other to make a nice tight ray. Try to get it really tight at the base against the headband so it won't flop down or slide around. Needle-nose pliers are great for doing this.

I then grabbed another pipe cleaner, and measured it against the first. I found that measuring the pipe cleaners on each side using the previous one created a natural gradation (since the two parts end up shorter than the previous ray because of the twisting around done after).

If you want your rays to be all the same size, just measure and cut all your pipe cleaners to the measurement of your first pipe cleaner before you twisted it (so I would use 5 inches since that was what mine was). You should be able to get at least a couple of rays from each pipe cleaner (so don't throw out the extra if it's long enough!).

For placement, I spaced mine using the teeth. I just went one "tooth" over to the right.

Bend your pipe cleaner up around the headband.

Then cut the long end so it's the same size as the short end.

Here's my second ray after twisting. You can see that's slightly shorter than the first.

I did a third ray on the left side of my first ray, using the same process.

Here's my almost-finished version. I just kept creating rays, lining them up against the previous one and alternating sides to keep them even.

After you've created as many rays as you like (I made mine stop about an inch above my ears on either side of the band), you can trim any rays that are a little long/irregular or cut it to the shape you like with sharp scissors. Here's my kokoshnik after I finished shaping and trimming it. I left the second and third rays (top middle) a little longer than the ones after them to make the point a bit thicker. I wanted it to have a nice curve to it, and a point in the middle like the domes of St. Basil's.

If you want to make it more traditional, attach ribbons to the sides under the last rays and have them stream down your back. You could also add dangling pearls or pearl netting underneath the rays (so they fall on your forehead).

That's all there is to it! It's a very easy and fast project.

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