Dolphin Coronet

I was given the opportunity to make a coronet for a woman who already is a Laurel and was about to be granted a court baroncy.  I had only 2 weeks to make a coronet, but knowing that her arms included dolphins (darn heraldic dolphins) I had an idea of what I would make.  The only requirement I was given was to make it light.

The plan was to have 6 sets of dolphins holding beads, coming up out of a coronet made of laurel leaves.  Original sketch:


(click any picture to see it in full)

First, the pieces were drawn on to the metal, and the details engraved. Then they were cut out of the flat metal:

planning the forms first cut outs

Above, you can just see a couple of early experiments in how much to dish the leaves.  Also, you can see that there were a few pieces I cut out before I figured out that it was easier to engrave them *first*.  In the picture on the left (below) the leaves are dished, and in the right, both the leaves and the dolphins are dished. I find that pieces look nicer with a little dishing and this really shows the contrast nicely.  The leaves were dished in a metal doming bowl. The dolphins were dished in a shallow depression cut into pine since they were elongated and needed an oval dish:

cut outs part 2 cut outs part 3

Close up time!

cuts outs part 4

Now, for the pearls.  Decisions decisions.  I asked her friends, and they voted on the irridescent blue glass beads (string of them seen on the right):

cut outs part 5 colors

Finally, assembling the coronet.  First, the pairs of dolphins were given their bead:

solder 1b solder 1

Two wires were bent around a head-shaped mandrel, and soldered shut:

bands on mandrel pic 6

For structural stability (OK it was overkill, but I was really worried about how delicate this all would be!) I added 5 vertical supports between the two wires. These would end up getting hidden behind the dolphins:

band 1

Now add dolphins:

band 2 band 3

And a few leaves (this was my stopping point for one day’s worth of soldering.)

band 4 band 5

The next day, finish the soldering:

band 6 band 7 done 1 done 2

Finally, sew a band of velvet that matches the beads:

Final held (Kathryn took this picture)

…. and DONE!

Many thanks to Albert Sanford for the pictures of her getting and wearing the coronet.  (The picture on the left is a closeup of the last one).

Bert pic 1 closeup Bert pic 3 Bert pic 2 Bert pic 1

Apparently, all told it weighs 2.2 oz. I’d say I met the “make it light” requirement!

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