Crown-like headdresses hold great significance in African rituals. In America, enslaved Africans continued this tradition by weaving designs and adding beads to fiber and straw hats before attending a ceremony or church. Jean-Michel Basquiat, an African American artist of Caribbean descent, was born in Brooklyn, New York, and rose to fame in the early 1980s for his colorful graffiti painting style. A crown symbol appeared frequently in Basquiat’s artwork. Some art historians believe that Basquiat used the symbol of the crown for multiple meanings: to depict himself as a king, portray his great ambition, or acknowledge the brilliance of other artists that influenced him. In this art activity, we’ll make a crown you can wear. What will your crown represent? Dignity, royalty, grace, resilience, or something else?


man wearing finished crown made of aluminum wire and pipe cleaner with beads


You will need:

  • 16–20 gauge aluminum craft wire
  • colorful Twisteez craft sculpture wire
  • pipe cleaners
  • buttons
  • beads
  • large wooden clothespin, a pencil, or jewelry pliers
  • scissors

Step 1

aluminum wire bent into a circle
Form the base of your crown by bending 1 or 2 pieces of aluminum craft wire into a circle big enough to fit around your head.

Step 2

ends of aluminum wire bent into hooks
Bend the two opposite ends of the wire into small half circles or loops so that they can hook together. Alternatively, you can twist the wire ends together to form a seamless loop.

Step 3

aluminum wire wrapped around head to test fit
Fit and hook your crown around your head to make sure it fits well.

Step 4

on left, using clothespin to bend aluminum wire into waves; on right, bending pipe cleaner into shapes
Use a wooden clothespin to make your wire into shapes. You can straighten, bend, or add curls or zig zags to your wire. You can also try using a pencil or jewelry pliers to help make the different shapes.

Step 5

stringing beads of different color through pipe cleaner
String and loop beads and buttons in and around the pipe cleaners or colorful Twisteez wire. Think about making colorful patterns and designs.

Step 6

wrapping pipe cleaner with beads around the front of the aluminum wire crown
Add more design elements by carefully wrapping and looping the pipe cleaners, Twisteez wire, beads, and buttons around the crown base. Make sure your additions are secure by twisting the ends.

Step 7

adding more pipe cleaners with beads along the wire crown
Keep adding beads, wires, and pipe cleaners to create your unique crown.

Step 8

man wearing finished crown
Wear your finished crown proudly and enjoy!