Art, Education

Make Your Own Tiara with Artist Marianne Sadowski

The artist reveals her tiara-making secrets in advance of a free Family Festival on April 12

Twice a year the Getty Center turns into open-air family playground for Family Festivals, which offer an all-day mix of music, stories, and hands-on art projects. The free event on Saturday, April 12 pays tribute to Queen Victoria with an English music hall sing-along, kid-friendly Gilbert & Sullivan, a photo booth, itinerant bagpipes, and three art-making workshops. It’s all free, no reservations required; just drop by.

On the day, artist Marianne Sadowski is leading a special craft that’s a perfect match for the royal theme: make your own tiara or crown. We asked her to share her recipe for the perfect queenly tiara, which uses easy-to-find, inexpensive materials and requires only a little clever twisting.


  • Wire
  • Beads
  • Pipe cleaners


1. Form the tiara base

Form the tiara’s structure by bending a wire (show here at center). Twist the ends to make two loops, as shown.

2. Bling the base

Wrap the wire you just bent with a pipe cleaner. Here Marianne has used silver pipe cleaners for royal flair, but any color will work. It just depends what color of monarch you want to be.

3. Create the tiara’s front

Take three pipe cleaners of your choice; fold each in half, add plastic beads of your choice, then twist once or twice, adding more beads as you go. Leave the ends open. (You can use any beads, but plastic ones are lightweight and won’t cause your tiara to collapse under the weight of its own sparkly jewels.)

4. Attach the front to the base

Now attach these three pipe cleaner twists onto the tiara base and add two (or more) horizontal stems to provide structure, adding more beads in between.

5. Finish and wear

Twist the open ends on the left and right sides together and, presto!, your tiara is ready to wear to your next coronation, royal wedding, or job interview.

Photos courtesy of Marianne Sadowski

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      The Queen Who Wasn’t

      Louis XIV clandestinely wed his mistress, Madame de Maintenon, at Versailles on October 9 or 10, 1683. The marriage was much gossiped about but never openly acknowledged. She was never queen.

      Madame de Maintenon had been the {judgy} governess to Louis XIV’s children by his previous mistress, Madame de Montespan. Louis gave these children moneyed titles—such as the comte de Toulouse, who ordered the tapestries shown here for his residence outside Paris.

      Louis’s secret marriage ushered in a period of religious fervor, in sharp contrast to the light-hearted character of his early reign. Madame de Maintenon was known for her Catholic piety, and founded a school for the education of impoverished noble girls at Saint-Cyr in 1686 that stayed in operation until 1793. This engraving of the Virgin and Child was dedicated to her by the king.

      Virgin and Child, late 1600s, Jean-Louis Roullet after Pierre Mignard; Johann Ulrich Stapf, engraver. The Getty Research Institute. Tapestries from the Emperor of China series. The J. Paul Getty Museum


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