Monday, August 8, 2016

Harry Potter-style Magischola Wands

For a change, I was involved in a Harry Potter-esque (but not that world) LARP in which everyone needed a wand to play, so I made my own and two of my friends wands. I received the two sketches below for their wands and decided this should be do-able. I haven't done too much lathe work, but I felt confident I could manage! :3

So my first problem was a frustrating one. The wood that was chosen for B's wand was Olive Wood and this is AWFUL to work with. It was so dense that it took hours and hours to lathe and sand. Below you can see the beginning test of the lathe on the olive wood. I will have nightmares about it for years to come, I'm sure.

Here is the finished lathe on the olive wood wand. Considering that this started out as a 2x2 piece of wood, I'm pleased with the diameter I got on the final cut. The bulb at the end fit nicely in my hand, as requested by B. It was light and a little flexible, very nice. 
The second wand ended up being apple wood and this was a DREAM to work with. It was very easy to lathe and while B's wand took roughly 10 hours to lathe and sand, J's wand took 3 in total plus the whole shop smelled vaguely of apple vinegar as I cut the wood. I don't have any in-the-middle shots of the apple wood wand because once I got down to business I just went at it, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

Originally, the wand was supposed to also have a bulb at the end but we had an issue. J ordered the blank in the exact length she wanted her wand, but since you need some dead-space on either side of the blank for the lathe to grip into, it was going to hurt the final length. I had an idea to go out and buy a wooden ball and attach it separately to keep the length, which J approved of. However! While at Lowes to pick up screws, I noticed drawer handles and got an idea. I sent her several that I thought matched her character concept and BAM - she fell in love with the blue glass flower. This ended up becoming the new end to her wand and fit her character perfectly.

While looking at the wands, I had an idea for both of them which ended up working out for all three wands, funny enough. J's original design had the spiral cut into the wood of the handle but I have yet to discover how to successfully do this, so I offered an alternative. If you remember my last prop, I did a silver wrap on the hilt for Javert's sword and I thought it would work really well. I used silver cord I had to  wrap the length of the handle, then went back over it with gold cord on top to re-create not only that look, but tie together the gold cuffs she wanted. What I will note, specifically, is that it took several layers of varnish directly onto the hilt to 1) make sure it wouldn't fray with use and 2) that gold cord wouldn't move.

For B's wand, he wanted gold cuffs on either end of the hilt, but it seemed to blend in so much with the wood that it didn't pop as you can see in the first two below. After a bit of a thought, I suggested a similar wrap to J's wand to make the whole thing have a little more unf, and when he saw the third picture of a test wrap, he ended up liking it quite a bit. Several layers of varnish made sure that thread wasn't going anywhere.


Here is the final picture of the olive wood wand with the wood oiled which brought out the lovely color of the olive wood, which made an even more striking contrast on the gold cuffs and hilt.

I suggested that coloring the ball in the middle of J's wand might bring the whole thing together, tying the blue of the pommel into the rest of the wand  In the end, the whole thing really works well for her character and I'm pleased with how it ended up. A good solid grip of a wand with a bit of weight to it!

My own wand ended up being a bit of a hysterical thing. A few weeks before this, I had done some yard work and ended up with several thick holly branches from the bush in my front yard after a heavy cut back. I had left them to dry in my basement and didn't think anything else on it until I realized I had no idea what I wanted to do for my wand. My character was a werewolf, and I wanted to reflect that in a more 'natural' style of wand. I spotted the dried holly branches and an idea was born!

After a few failed attempts, I realized that all of the branches were curved too much to lathe, so I did what I do best - improvise! I discovered quickly that with my belt sander, the holly wood was very easy to sand and removing the bark with the sander created a very neat effect of coloring. Even better when the wood beneath was bone white! So I decided the whole thing would look very bone-like, kept the natural curve and made it look a bit like bone or a fang. With a leather wrap, it kept the whole thing very wand-like despite its natural state and gave me a good grip on otherwise surprisingly smooth wood.

For a bit of additional fun, I went and had my neighbors dog bite down hard on the wand once it was sanded, but before I varnished it, giving it the impression that a canine had carried the wand in its teeth at some point. :3

Here are all three wands put together after their last varnishing. I'm really happy with how the lot of these turned out. They proved to handle four days of running around like idiots very well, and the each very much reflect the character it was built for. A magical toy maker, a werewolf who studies animals, and a professor of ethics - going left to right.