Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DIY Harry Potter Wands II: Paper Mash, Kraft Paper, String and Paint.


 Paper Mache Harry Potter Wands, embellished with paper pulp and paint

Welcome back to my Harry Potter Wand tutorial. Part two.   Yesterday was part one. Check here for how I made the paper wand blank and for how I embellished some of the 21 wands. Today I'm going to talk about another embellishment technique that is a bit more labor intensive, but ends up with some impressive results, in my opinion.

This is the paper pulp portion of our adventure. There are many ways to create with paper mache. We start out when we're kids, maybe, with the water/flour paste and strips of newspapers on balloons, sometimes we might move on to fancier paper or fancier glue. And then there is the paper pulp fun, where you take little bits of paper, soak them in water, mix them with some sort of fixative and then mold them like clay.
 That is what I did here. I used this tutorial for paper pulp ala Miranda Rook. It takes some cardboard egg cartons, some glossy magazines, water, electric equipment (mixers and blenders) some big bowls or containers for soaking and mixing, and strainers... a colander and cheesecloth or stockings will do.

I'm not going to do a tutorial for this, because I pretty much just followed Miranda Rook's instructions. Plus I forgot to take pictures and hers are great.  I wasn't sure how well it was going to work out, so I only did a fraction of her recipe, using one large 18 count egg carton and about half of a small glossy. It didn't make nearly as much as hers, but I knew I wouldn't need so much for just a few wands and wasn't sure if I'd use it again.

So after soaking my paper and combining it well with a mixer, I took a bit and mixed it with my white glue to make my first batch of wands. Since I did my wands in a couple of batches, I followed Miranda Rook's instructions on storing the pulp and rolled the leftover into these little balls that I set out in the sun to dry.
 They dried well and made nice hard balls. I followed Miranda Rook's instructions again and took a few of the balls and set them in my bowl with some water. Not too much because I didn't want it to be soggy I just wanted it to be mashable. I broke the balls apart as the water made them soft and kept breaking them up as I added small amounts of water.
 Then I added more of my trusted white glue. I mixed this with my hand mixer. If it were a bigger batch, a stand mixer would work better, but I was working in small batches so it was okay for me. I blended it until all the glue was mixed in and if it wasn't mashy enough or sticky enough I added more glue. MORE GLUE! (this has been my refrain the last few weeks.) The one thing I would have liked to do with this mash was to blend it even finer with a hand blender or in a regular blender. My blender was broken so I went with the bumpy mash. It adds a nice texture, but I would have like to have seen what could have happened with a smoother mash.
Once mixed well with the glue, I got out my wand blanks.  Yesterday, I mentioned that it was okay if some of your wands weren't perfect. If they were wrinkled or bumpy.  This was the first wand my son made and he got upset because it was all wrinkled. I told him not to worry, because I could almost see The Elder Wand in the bumpiness. Instead of trying to straighten it out and smooth the wrinkles/bumps or just tossing it in the garbage as a loss (it is only glue and paper, after all,) I emphasized the wrinkles, squeezing and smooshing the original blank into something that was less sleek and more organic looking. Then I took out paper pulp and added more pulp to the bumpy parts, emphasizing them, smoothing them on, compressing them around the bumps and adding a nice hefty clump of mash as a handle.

In the end, this was the "messed up" wand. It's a beauty. And the one my son actually chose for himself. I chose the most flawed wand blanks for the paper mash. I worked with the wrinkles to make them unique and give them personality.


Some were too wide, so I made them wider and solid.


Some did not have round shafts, so I made them more angular.


Some didn't have enough glue at the grip side, so I covered the soft paper with the bulky pulp which dries very hard.  The soft handle was actually a common problem I had, and paper pulp was not the only solution for this problem.

And that brings us to another family of wand embellishments.

 Wrapped Kraft Paper Handle Harry Potter Wands

This is a simple embellishment and all it takes is a strip of paper bag and more glue. (MORE GLUE!)

You want to cut your brown bag/kraft paper in a slight taper so the outside edge is narrower, because that will make the hand a little bit graduated on the wand. Add glue liberally and roll it tightly to the wand handle, much like the original wand construction. Smooth out the wrinkles and bumps as you go and when the whole handle is wrapped, smooth the glue out.

For most of these paper bag wands, I added a twist for a pommel gem or where the grip meets the wand, but I didn't do it for all of them. It's just another embellishment. For one of these, I dipped a braided cord in glue and wrapped that around the top of the handle.

And that leads me to the last of my embellishment catagories.

 String Wands.

This is my least favorite embellishment. Sorry. It's easier, but I found that it had the least modelling capability and the string dries hard, with a distinct string texture. It works, but it's not my favorite. The silver one was yarn, and the yarn and glue together made an almost rough texture which reminded me of metal. That's why I made it silver. The bottom one was cotton twine and while I kind of like the way it looks on the handle, I don't like the way it feels when I grip it. Well. We'll see if any of the kids choose my least favorite wands as THEIR favorite. Shh. Don't tell them these are my rejects. One person's trash is another person's treasure (says the avid repurposer.)

I suppose at this point, I should talk a little bit about the painting techniques. I do not have any tutorials for these because I just went on my gut and my hands were really messy and full of wands and paint.  But if I think back over it, there are really only two techniques I used.


The easiest is the flat effect. This is just an opaque layer of paint in one color. It might or might not have a layer of glossy mod podge (I found it too sticky for grips, so it was only on the wand shafts) or gel medium or even a glaze of iridescent fluid acrylic.  Silver, black and gold gave the best flat effect, I found.


And also I had a dark mica paint that I got many years ago and doesn't work for when I paint pictures. This was the perfect use for it.


A bit more difficult was the layered paint effects. This consisted of a base coat and then one to multiple (and I do mean multiple) following layers of thin paint that I then rubbed off with my hand. I found using my hand made the best effect sometimes, avoiding brushstrokes and giving it a more natural variegation. Plus, I was careful not to use too much paint for each layer, because it doesn't rub off very well if the paint is applied thickly.

I found the layered effect worked best with browns, tans, ivory and white. Blending the colors gave a natural wood or bone feeling. And sometimes I found the browns too flat, so I would dab on some orange with the brown/tan and blend it on as I went.

I found that adding the lightest colors first, and then putting on darker layers as I went worked the best, although a little bit of lighter color added to a darker color could also give a feeling of age/dimension.

Whenever a wand didn't look right, I would just add another layer of color until it made me happy. Sometimes that meant a solid layer of color changing the entire color scheme. Sometimes it just meant another thin layer of brown that I then wiped off


And then there's my daughter's request. A pink wand. And I had to get over my resistance to the pink wand (Harry Potter wands aren't PINK!) and find a way to put it together. This wand is actually a graduated base layer of orange blended with white, a little bit of tan, and then an iridescent glaze on top. The blue iridescence altered the orange to a vaguely pink color. Win!

I wish I had the presence of mind to photograph the painting techniques, but I was too involved in the actual painting, which is often that case when I craft.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I will answer. Also, I'd love to see if anyone makes a wand with any of these hints, or finds new solutions or new embellishments or new techniques. They can be lots of fun to make and they look so impressive considering the materials and effort involved. I mean,with a little bit of paper, glue, and paint, you too can be called Ollivander.

To check out the previous post and see all of the 21 wands, click here.

1 comment:

Hallow Key said...

Have you thought of using spaghetti? it works well but you have to make sure its flat on the wand otherwise when it dries (you use partly cooked spaghetti) it will curl up slightly it is an great alternative to a glue gun

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