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Realizing a Client’s Dream.

By Tina Giuntini

I have a new client in Seattle who commissioned me to make a design that had long been in her dreams, known in her native tongue as a Fire Bird. Over the years, I have been asked to make some unusual designs; many of which required learning a new technique. This commission proved to be no different, a tiara atop a felt hat base. One might call it a modern re-styling of the traditional Russian headdress, kokoshnik.

Let me take you on a journey of discovery…


It all started with the photo below, a rhinestone-incrusted tiara of a Peacock. I am not a metalsmith, nor have I ever taken a class working with metals. However, I was not to be daunted. I enlisted the help of my knowledgeable studio mate, Wayne Wichern, and my very capable brother, Scott Juntini. Following on from their advice, I was able to tackle the impossible - welding.

The first point to note, I was not setting gemstones into pronged settings, as in the more traditional method. Instead, I would be using beads made from Garnet, Tourmaline and Ruby. My idea, to string the beads onto thin silver wire and then wrap these strands onto a silver tiara frame with more silver wire – the more modern approach to tiaras. But first, I needed to construct a frame!

After consulting with the client regarding the overall size of the tiara, I cut all the necessary pieces out of 20 gauge silver plated copper wire. To help me create the required curve of the pieces I used a WWII shell copper casing (yes) that happened to be lying around the basement. At this point, I could mark all my joining points with a Sharpie marker and proceed with my welding work.