Monday, 30 July 2012

Being Garrick Ollivander

So, I have a bit of a thing about making stuff - I love to fiddle, make, draw, paint, sew, pretty much anything that keeps my hands busy. Not long ago I found Instructables and I love it! So many projects!

One of the first ones I spotted that I wanted to make was the Harry Potter wand tutorial. I am a Potter Geek, I had just finished the whole set again (I've lost count how many times, I just love them!), and I loved the idea that I could make it in under an hour, and with stuff I already had around the house - Those kinds of crafts are great, impromptu quickies. So, I got cracking a couple of weeks ago and...

Ta-da! The tutorial is really easy, and I think an older child would be more than able to manage it, Though it does use hot glue, so they'd probably need help with that. Basically it's a long thin cone of paper filled with the hot glue. The filling part was tricky trying to work the glue right down into the cone as it does cool quite fast - I held the outside of the wand against a hot iron to remelt some of the glue and forced it down with a spare glue stick from the packet, and still had a small air pocket in the middle!

The tutorial was for a generic wand, but I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I went online to find pictures of the wands from the movies. I wanted to make Neville's as I love the character, but it looked quite tricky, so I chose to try Hermione's first:
Which was really really easy. The pattern around it is just glue gun glue squirted round it And then I painted the whole thing with acrylic paint, and did a dark wash (watered down paint painted on then rubbed off so the crevices look darker) to age/distress it a bit, and basically stop it being one flat colour. It's slightly greeny brown, because that's what the pictures looked like!

Now here comes the fun part. A friend, Mel, tweeted that her daughter Robyn is Harry Potter obsessed, and was spending the day being Hermione (her favourite character) having plaited her wet hair the night before to make it curly. It made me smile as it was totally something I would have done on a whim as a child (Had HP been around then!) and I kept remembering it for a day or two. Then I remembered my Hermione wand sat on the top of the kitchen cupboard, not quite finished, looking a bit abandoned. So I offered it to Mel, and offered to do a letter from Mr Ollivander to go with it. Cue craft number 2, wizard's stationery in the Oven! All I did was print up a letter unique to Robyn, including how the wand she had was broken by her sister, and the properties that her wand has - Mel checked what wand had chosen Robyn on Pottermore and I matched it as well as I could (I had to change the length slightly as the wand was already finished and a bit long). Then I soaked the paper in very strong coffee. We don't drink coffee so it was good to get my moneys worth out of the sad little jar that I'd bought to have in the cupboard in case of builders and parents of the children's friends, but had never been opened!

I actually tried 3 different letters (again, perfectionist). The first I soaked and tore the edges slightly to age it, then tried to dry it on a baking tray. The raw edges baked to the foil and it ripped coming off. Rubbish. I tried a second torn edged one and dried it on the oven shelf like this:

 But it just didn't look right, and I tried again with the straight edged version you can see up there. The problem with putting it straight on the shelves is that the water evaporates unevenly, giving you stripes from the rack, which I really did not like at all. Gah! I actually re-soaked that one - I'd run out of copies as we've got no printer at the moment - and dried it on an upside down baking tray, and huzzah! It worked! But I still wasn't done, as it dried quite warped and wrinkled, and very brittle. I was actually too scared fold it into the (also coffee stained) envelope! I tried steam ironing it, so it was flatter and not quite so totally dried out to a crisp. It worked really well and left the paper just feeling like stiff paper (or parchment, which was what I was going for) rather than crunchy dried out leaves.
 Then I decided I wanted to put a wax seal on it. Much harder than I thought. It's incredibly easy to do, if you have a stamp for the seal, or something you can improvise to a stamp. I did not, but I couldn't not do it after I'd decided I wanted to! I spent maybe an hour melting wax and shoving stuff in it to try and find something like the design I had in my head, and had to keep simplifying it or changing it, but I'm happy with how it worked out. If I do it again I think I'll go rubber stamp shopping first to see if I can find anything I like, because I made this with 3 different implements (read household objects) and was a right faff. In the end I wanted it to look at least vaguely like a wand casting a round spell, as the circle would therefore also be an O. I think it turned out ok, I did the same seal on the back of the envelope as well.
 So, there you have it! I wrapped the wand in a piece of purple velvety fabric and made a cardboard box (not nearly pretty enough for a picture) to protect it in the post, then put both the box and the letter in a jiffy bag, which I made 2 more 'parchment' labels for, adding a HP twist to the address with the location of Robyn's bedroom, and a scrawl on the back saying "Owl injured in transit, use Muggle post" and now all there is to be done is take it to the post office.

I'm really excited to hear and hopefully see in pictures how Robyn reacts when it gets there, I really enjoyed doing it so hopefully she'll love it!

Things I have learnt:
Don't use your ironing board as a surface. I practised making the wax seal on it as our table space is limited, and I slipped and smeared crayon wax on it. I needed a new ironing board cover already so I'm not too cross, but now I really need a new one.

Don't use crayons for wax seals. They melt to a very thin liquid which doesn't led itself to stamping, as it cools hard quite slowly. Candle wax is better. Sealing wax is obviously best, but you'd have to buy it, as it isn't the kind of thing that is just lying about the house. And I'm cheap ;)

My next planned project:
Thor helmet for Ethan and Loki costume for Sam. It's for Halloween so likely won't be finished for a while and probably not started for a bit either!

Update: This blog has now moved to - Hope to see you over there!