Easter is coming in a couple of months and I am reminded of a craft that I did several years ago: a real, wickedly sharp, crown of thorns. It all started when my husband and I went to the local recycling yard to find a certain piece of scrap metal that my husband needed for a welding job. I was unimpressed with all the piles of rusty and twisted metal piled here and there among the weeds. So, just like a 5 year old at a little league game, I looked at the pretty flowers instead. It didn’t take long before some wicked looking weeds caught my attention. The weeds were 8 or 10 feet high and had thorns that were one-half inch long. I actually gasped in surprise.
I don’t know what botanical family these weeds came from, but the long whip-like branches had thick base stems and hardly any side branching. All I knew was that I wanted them. I wanted to make a crown of thorns to hang on my wall at home. My small collection of crosses would look great with a crown of thorns! I could even make a few extra to give to my mom and our pastor. Maybe even sell some on Etsy! Yes, I was going to get rich… selling dead weeds on Etsy. My husband thinking I was nuts, said “no”.
So, we went home, but I couldn’t stop thinking about those thorns, and the emotional response they caused in me, both the wickedness and the Etsy thing. Several days later my husband took me back, this time with some work gloves and some heavy-duty loppers. He cut 6 or 8 stems for me starting several feet off the ground. I knew that the stems were too thick near the base for my purposes. The gloves hardly made a difference because those thorns still poked through. We brought the stems home and I soaked them in my bathtub for 24 hours to soften them up for bending. Then with my husband and my teenage daughter’s help, and some heavy leather gloves, we started to work.
How we made the crown:
We ended up only using the thinnest top 2-3 feet of each stem and discarding the rest, but that was plenty. We bent the first stem around in a loop on itself and secured it temporarily with a colorful twist-tie from my kitchen junk drawer. The last 8 inches or so of the tip of the branch I wrapped under and over itself a few times to make a rough circle. At this point, we doubled up on gloves as we feared that if one of the stems, while we were bending it, slipped out of our grasp for even a second that it might snap out and stab one of us quite severely. The potential energy created by bending this thing into a very small circle was scary dangerous. Note: keep your pets and small children far away while doing this part.
Altogether we used 5 tip sections of the thorns that were each about 2-3 feet long, and interwove the second one with the first, securing it with twist-ties as we went, and so on. Each time trying to start the thickest end of the new stem at a different spot around the circle. When we finally had what we wanted, my husband used pliers and some heavy metal staples to replace the ugly twist ties. He only needed to do this in four places as the thorns kind of interlocked with each other quite strongly everywhere else. And… it was finished.
Having gone through the process, and experiencing the adrenaline rush of fear, and a few stabbed finger tips… I decided that I did not want to mass produce these crazy things after all.
Easter of that year I loaned my crown to our church for their display. And here it is on a bed of purple velvet. And on my wall at home.￼
I hope I haven’t discouraged you from trying make your own. However, I do want to make sure you understand the risk involved, at least with my particular branches anyway. Perhaps your thorns will be easier to work with.
If you are wanting to make a crown of thorns for children or for a skit or play there are other ways of faking it which can still look pretty realistic from a distance.
For example here’s one method for making a more child-friendly crown of thorns out of brown paper. View the tutorial here: HERE.
In 2014 Pope Francis took a trip to South Korea where he was presented with a handmade crown of thorns made out of barbed wire taken from the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. There is no official photo of that crown, but I imagine it probably looked something like this, except probably rustier:
Ok, if you still want a real one made of thorns, but can’t make one yourself. It is possible to buy one already made. Here are two places that I found: