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Weta's Techniques

Information from Jasmine Watson from TolCon, May 2004

== by Galadriel

I attended TolCon in Seattle this past weekend.  Jasmine Watson was in attendance, as was a representative of WETA.  It was quite an eventful weekend and I'll have lots to say about it later (when I'm not playing catch-up at work) but here are a few juicy tidbits I was able to ask her in person one evening:

Arwen's coronation crown is indeed in two pieces. The back piece is only connected to the front piece by the strings of hanging beads. The back is attached to the wig via little loops of elastic. She had to make it in two pieces because of time constraints - Liv arrived only 2 days before shooting and they couldn't afford the time to change the crown if it didn't fit (Liv apparently has a very oval head, and that plus the wig made her head shape unusual. Jasmine wanted a very specific placement of the crown along her hairline).

Arwen's coronation outfit is green to represent spring after a long winter.  Jasmine tied this spring green color into the crown.  The dangling beads had green in them, and there was green on the actual silver butterfly parts of the crown that looked like some kind of enamel.  What this really was, however, was nail polish!!  It was "expensive Dior polish", but still nail polish, whatever the price!

I asked about Galadriel's brooch and how they attached it to such delicate silk. She said it was a very delicate piece. She knew that Cate was only going to be filming for a few weeks and it wasn't a piece that was going to be used much or put under strain. She used very thin mother of pearl to make it lighter. BTW, this is the same brooch used in the dark Galadriel outfit (I wondered if it was just reproduced with the extensions on the sides, but apparently that was something that was added onto the original piece).

She has been hired to do the Narnia Chronicles jewelry and is excited about making so many crowns.

She gets her inspiration from nature, having grown up on a small island without electricity; and from the simple but ornate lines of Japanese art.

Her older sister is a costume designer (her name is Jandra Watson and she worked on The Piano, which was entirely hand-stitched). Jandra is the one who helped Jasmine break into the movie world.

Everything that is supposed to be made of mithril is made from sterling silver dipped in pure silver.

Nenya's sparkliness comes from an enormous cubic zirconia set under
the dragonfly flower.

Brad Dourif did his own stunt work, so that is actually him falling down those stairs!

Narya and Nilya were already designed and made by the art department when Jasmine was hired.

Jasmine was sad that she didn't get to make The One Ring but was glad that it was made by her old teacher, who was an excellent jeweler but has passed away.

She showed us close-up photos of the ring of the King of Men.  It is meant to be beautiful and very slightly sinister.  The decorations to the sides of the stone are of kings, and the silver setting curls up around them to hold the stone in place, creating the impression of imprisonment for the kings.

Jasmine showed a close-up of the Evenstar as worn by Arwen's son (Eldarion, I think, is his name).  He was wearing a woven linen shirt with no collar, but ties up the front.

Jasmine also showed some close-ups of buttons on Legolas' costume.  They were miniature silver Lorien brooches. The fabric they were on was very intricate, with blues, greens and gold. She said it was for a flashback scene but I have no idea what she was talking about.

She has a cameo in Return of the King - apparently she is one of the Gondorian women running away in panic after the men's heads are chopped off.  She says she can't find herself.  I think this scene was cut out - let's hope it's back in the EE!

Arwen's farewell tiara, that we all love so much... well, it's just a last-minute thrown-together piece!  They said they needed a tiara for her and shooting was about to start, so Jasmine took 5 existing pieces of her old jewelry and wired them together in an hour or two.

Same thing can be said for Gandalf the White's brooch.  She took two belt buckles, cut them into shapes, and added some more embellishments to make his clasp.  She said it took her the least amount of time to make of anything.

Galadriel's crown took 3 weeks to design and make.

Theoden's crown had some of the horse heads glued into place.  The day of shooting was at freezing or below freezing, and the glue kept freezing and falling off.  They had to have crew on standby to keep re-dluing the horse designs back in place.  If you watch carefully, the horses are absent in some of the shots.

Aragorn's coronation crown, due to its weight, ended up far too big. It slipped down around his neck!  Jasmine calls this "the worst day of her career," as she had to pull the crown completely apart, resize it, and assemble it again before shooting began.

Viggo Mortensen loved his Barahir ring so much that Peter and Fran commissioned Jasmine to replicate it in precious metals for his birthday.  On days when Viggo knew they'd be shooting closeups (such as the end coronation scene), he'd bring his own ring to wear.

Eowyn's belt that she wears with the green dress is made in gold. The belt that she wears with the White Wool dress is the same design, only made in silver.

The replicated Elven leaf brooch is the only piece of her jewelry where they actually made a mold of the original to use for mass reproduction.  As a side note, I think she said they made 60 brooches for the movies in all (for scale doubles, stunt doubles, etc.).

Grima's medallion is made out of glass to simulate onyx.  She seemed slightly put out that we didn't get to see more of it (it was always hidden or flipped over).

The Evenstar was about "a third longer" originally, but when they tried it on Liv, complete with costume, they realized it was too big and had to cut it down.

They made approximately 20 Evenstars.  Originally she made only one, thinking Arwen would give it to Aragorn and that he'd wear it tucked inside his shirt for the rest of the movies (so she made 20 chains with beads on the end to weigh them down).  Viggo liked it so much, however, that he shortened the chain so it could always be seen.  The necklace kept getting ruined and lost, once ending up stuck to the bottom of Viggo's muddy boot!

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This page was last updated 04/22/08