A friend and I were having a discussion about why I’ve been so wizard-obsessed lately. Yes, we recently went on our dream vacation to Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida (we need a do-over, btw), and yes, I’ve been re-reading all of the books (on audio), and we’ve been flipping through the special edition illustrated book. And yes, Myla and I both LOVED Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. So perhaps all of those things happening at once is why I’ve been inspired artistically. But in talking with my friend, I think it might also be a lovely distraction from some difficult times we’ve been going through lately.
We got these lovely wands from Ollivander’s when we were at Harry Potter World…
(That’s mine on the left, which (according to Ollivander’s) represents “persistence and renewal…boundless energy…and a habit of burning the candle at both ends,” and Myla’s on the right, which is for someone who “delights in helping others…and uses their powerful imagination and resourceful nature to make their dreams come true…” which seemed to fit us both quite well.)
Recently, I drew a little wizard portrait of her, and she surrounded it with funny creatures and pranks from the Weasley twins…but she was most tickled that I included her skull wand…
In any case, I’m still wizarding-obsessed, and that’s OKAY. I mean, my birthday was the 5th and look what my sister’s gift card got me:
It’s Newt Scamander’s suitcase wallet/purse, from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them! I absolutely love it, and I just happened to have a tiny niffler keychain to go along with it, which makes me smile.
If you’re not familiar, the movie takes place in America, MANY years before Harry Potter. Newt Scamander is a wizard interested in the study of magical creatures, and has a suitcase sanctuary (MUCH bigger on the inside), where he keeps all of his creatures in their own little habitats.
Myla is such a fan of magical creatures, she added them to this drawing I did of Newt:
Would you believe that she even built her own suitcase full of magical beasts?
(The “MR,” she says, stands for “muggle ready”–a setting on the suitcase (according to the movie) that will allow humans to see just a plain suitcase inside with no beasties…)
This girl is a wiz with paper, and makes the most wonderful things, most of which don’t translate well to photos, as they’re so perfectly 3-d, and often require some sort of action to make them work. In this case, however, the suitcase is a little “tube” in which she stuffed all her magical beasts…
There’s a niffler, a murtlap, thunderbird, occamy, and sweeping evil. (If you’re not familiar, all you really need to know is that they’re unusual magical creatures…)
Her creativity is impressive, and quite a fantastic thing to be able to witness.
While the normal world goes round, I’ll remain in the deep end, up to my nose in wizarding things, surrounded by lovely beasties. It’s nice to have a place to step away to when the regular world gets you down….
So enjoy your happy place, and all the lovely things in it!
So, last week, I told you more than you probably ever wanted to know about our family trip to Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida. Naturally, I came home with a fierce desire for all things Potter, and got right away doing some related projects.
First project: The Dobby doll! My big souvenir from our trip was this wonky little Dobby. I knew he wasn’t the greatest looking thing…
He looked pretty purturbed, actually. Like he just ate something sour and is a bit miffed by it. But I figured I could do something with him.
He’s got a wire poseable frame, and is made of a foamy sort of material, so there’s no chance of changing the face sculpt at all. All I could do was try my best to give him a new paint job and brighten him up a bit.
I tried turning his wonky lips into a bit more of a smile, and made his eyes quite a bit bigger. I also took off the nylon fabric they had wrapped around him, and exchanged it for some paint-stained muslin scraps I had in my craft room. And I love him! Myla likes to make him hold his arm up and say, “You must not harm Myla Hendricks!!” which is good for a giggle. I suggested we replace the Elf on the Shelf (which I got suckered into last year) with Dobby, but she didn’t think that was funny.
For Christmas, I had gotten almost the ENTIRE Harry Potter Funko Pop set (I have a bit of a Funko Pop problem), which I happily painted with a bit more detail (because I have a bit of a Funko Pop problem)…
In a geeky facebook group I’m part of, one member told us she used her Ollivander’s wand boxes as display shelves. WHAT. Mind. Blown. So, along with a snitch and a couple of other knick-knacks, my Funko Pops are housed atop ours, and they sit on our wall, making me smile a bit each time I pass them.
As for the wands, my dad (being pretty crafty himself) said he’d be willing to make us a scroll display, but for now, I built a temporary one. I took an oval natural wooden plank, screwed in several cool-looking drawer pulls from the hobby shop, added some cup hooks, and a string to hold it up (the rusty star isn’t part of it–it’s a wall decoration we already had, but it fits well with everything). I bought the leather pull hoops at the bottom intending to have three, but when I got home, I realized I had only grabbed two…and then decided it was perfect for holding the map of wand spells that comes with each wand! It needs some work (never mind those holes I mislined), but I love the basic idea of how it turned out. It seems very homemade, put-together and “Weasley,” and I’m pretty happy with that.
Most likely, I’ll re-do it with a nice piece of wood (and balance the wands BEFORE I drill), but for now, this works.
And speaking of my dad, I thought I’d give you an update on his backyard garden train Hogwarts he built by hand. If you haven’t seen it, I wrote a whole post on it here, but for now, this photo shows you the basic idea:
And now he’s working on Diagon Alley!!! Look at the figure for the Weasley shop! I’m so excited to see it. He sort of went off the map for Diagon Alley, enjoying putting his own little shops in there, but it’ll have the main shops, including Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and a Gringott’s with a dragon on top! I can’t wait to see it!
For Christmas, I made him a few signs he could hang from some of the storefronts he’s building…
Then I got a bit obsessed by making these tiny corked mandrake seedling bottle pendants!
I was inspired once again by a tutorial on one of my favorite blogs, Epbot, for building a large mandrake bouquet. These were SO much fun to make! I made teensy ones, and tried different versions that were a little more involved, and ultimately didn’t work out as well. But after a bit of trial and error, I came up with the more simple design above, and made so many that I put them up in my etsy shop. We couldn’t decide if we liked the moss or the dirt pebbles better, so I made several of each. Now I want to make other tiny things to put in necklace bottles! (But I get the feeling that’s been done for a long time by miniature sculptors much more coordinated than I….)
So there it is! Potter-brain for sure. Along with the Butterbeer lip gloss I found on Etsy, a couple of patches for our patch collection (this one and this one), I’m fairly sure we will never tire of wizarding things…<3
This week’s post won’t be so much crafty, but chock-full of Harry Potter goodness, as I take a LONG walk through the finer points of our magical trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida!
Well, it didn’t start out magical. Thanks to a ton of airline transfers, delays, cancellations, and all-out rude customer service (don’t get me started on my utter disappointment in American Air…), we ended up spending the night at a freezing cold Dallas airport, and spending the better part of ONE of our TWO park days of our first vacation in FIFTEEN YEARS waiting for stand-by flights to Orlando. But we made it, and once we FINALLY got there, it was AWESOME. I will tell you that we were not at all interested in Disney or any other part of Universal–just Harry Potter World…!
We arrived late on the first day (after stopping by our hotel to deposit our suitcases and freshen up after our terrible ordeal), late in the afternoon. Despite it being mid-December, it was surprisingly not that crowded at first, and we were able to see much of the park in that first day.
The first step was walking through the broken brick wall into Diagon Alley, which filled me with as much excitement as Harry must’ve felt seeing it for the first time (yes, I realize he’s a fictional character, but just go with it…). All the wonky buildings and wonderful signs, advertising, and storefronts made me giddy.
(There’s me and Myla, bottom right, her probably thinking, “dang, mom’s more excited than me.”)
The first thing we did was head straight to Ollivander’s for wands. Surprisingly, probably because of the lateness of the evening, there was no one in line, and while we didn’t get chosen for the little show (only one person gets picked per “show”), it was fun to watch, and afterward, we chose our own wands out in the shop section (if you don’t mind missing the show, you can skip the line by going straight into the store side). You can also get wands in another Ollivander’s on the Hogsmeade side, as well as Gregorovitch’s wand stand in Diagon Alley.
You can either choose an interactive wand (that “opens” little spells throughout the park) or a plain wand, and one of either a famous wizard from the series, or a unique one from the wall. They’re quite solidly made, heavy, seemingly out of some sort of thick resin. We chose our wands based on the writing on the wall, and each seemed to fit us quite well: Myla chose one of Rowan, which mentioned the bearer might use their “powerful imagination and resourceful nature to make their dreams come true.” Mine was Vine, which mentioned someone who is prone to “burn the candle at both ends.” And my husband’s was Ivy, which has the power to “easily overcome obstacles.” They each came with maps of all the “spell” spots throughout the park, and seemed to match us well! (I only wish they had these descriptions inside the wand boxes! We went back later to get a photo when I realized they weren’t inside the box…)
We set about doing “spells” throughout the park. The markers on the ground (as well as the map) tell you what spell to use, and what gesture to make (see the marker on the ground by the fountain, on the right, by Myla’s feet?), and there was nearly always a park wizard around to assist.
The dragon on top of Gringott’s went off quite often, blowing a quick burst of fire, which was awesome to see.
We stopped by Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, where Myla instantly squealed over a purple Pygmy Puff. A lovely witch at the register performed a “naming ceremony,” which she had her put it on her head, announcing that Myla was the new owner of a Pygmy Puff named “Puff,” who eats earwax and small spiders, which made Myla laugh. (Similarly, some of the cashiers would say things like, “Here’s your muggle plastic,” upon handing your credit card back.)
It was late the first night, and we took the Hogwart’s express to the Hogsmeade side (you have to have a park-to-park pass to be able to go to both sides). The train personnel on the muggle side ACT like muggles, and react as if you’re crazy if you question them about platform 9 3/4 when they take your tickets. They ask things like, “what kind of dog is that?” about Puff (because they’re muggles, and wouldn’t know anything about wizard things, right?).
I had an app that showed wait times for rides, and since it was late in the evening, we were able to go fairly quickly through the Hogwarts castle line for the Forbidden Journey ride. It was such a short line, in fact, that we didn’t really get a good look at all the fun things inside the castle! (By the second day, that same ride was SUPER crowded, and we waited nearly 45 minutes in line, which was a good time, actually, and we could enjoy looking at the castle details, and hear the talking paintings.)
Since we had done so much the first day (despite spending half the day at the airport), we slept in a bit the second day, and took our time getting to the park. It was a Monday, the first “official” day of winter school vacation, so it was MUCH more crowded than the day prior, but we were able to spend a lot of time around the park.
Again, we started in Diagon Alley. We chugged many, many foamy butterbeers (which come in frozen, chilled, and hot forms–ALL of which are amazing). We revisited the little shops, and doubled back on some of the details we didn’t get to the night before.
We saw a few of the shows we didn’t see the night before, like Celestina Warbeck and her Banshees, which sang classic songs like “You Stole My Cauldron, But You Can’t Have My Heart.” Later, we saw a wizarding theatre troop perform the Tale of the Three Brothers on the same stage.
We stopped in the Gringott’s Money Exchange, just because you can ask the goblin questions like, “Have you seen Harry Potter?” and he’ll reply, “That’s not my area of expertise.” (He also gets testy if he sees too many cameras pointed in his face.) We rode the Gringott’s ride (whose line was SUPER long the second day–and quite an uninteresting wait until you get inside–but it was worth it!). (Incidentally, for the rides, you have to store your things in a locker room near the ride entrance, and they’re only so big (our wand boxes barely fit), so you have to keep that in mind if you have large items!).
Everything was so awesome to look at! Even the building fronts that didn’t contain shops (like the House Elf Placement Agency, above right) were so beautifully designed.
We enjoyed Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream shop and got ice cream with crystals. We ate at the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron. We drank more butterbeer.
Next, we took the train back to Hogsmeade, to explore that side a bit more.
Since Myla’s a kid (and gets her clumsiness from me), she dropped her wand a couple of times (see the chip in the skull’s eye on the left up there?), and when it wouldn’t work anymore at one of the spell sites, a wizard helper advised us to swing by the Owl Post for a FREE wand repair! At no charge, the wizard there took it to the back and got us a brand new one, which (for a clumsy wizard like myself) I thought was AWESOME.
We waited in the super-hot sun under my tiny umbrella to see the Hogwarts Toad Choir perform songs like “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” (There were only two performers with toads, though–I thought they should’ve all had them!)
I decided that despite being a grownup (and despite his lackluster paint job) I needed a foam poseable Dobby, so that was my big souvenir. We rode the Hippogriff rollercoaster ride, which (because of the much bigger crowds) was a very long, hot wait–a bit over an hour, with not much to look at in line. It’s primarily a kid’s ride, but as we had a kid (and we’re big kids ourselves) we had fun.
The shops, much more crowded the second day, were similar to the other side, but one of the bookstores had a great window display of several caged and chomping Monster Book of Monsters books, surrounded by shreds of paper. Most of the spell sites were crowded with lines of kids waiting to do the spells, so often we would just watch what they did without bothering to stand in line.
And then, sadly, it was time to go back home. But–SIGHHHH–I loved it there. I wanted to LIVE there. Not in Orlando, exactly…but in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Myla and I decided we should probably just move in. No one would notice–we’d just sort of set up in Knockturn Alley (which is in a dark and cool shady tunnel of shops in Diagon Alley). People would just assume we worked there, wouldn’t they? …It could work, right?
Well, anyway. Goodbye, Weasley Shop. Goodbye, Gringott’s Dragon. Goodbye, Hogwarts. Goodbye, Harry Potter World. Hopefully we’ll be back again soon.
I, for one, have been in a renewed Potter daze since our trip. My husband and I once read the ENTIRE series of books ages ago, and I’m I’m revisiting them by listening to them again on audiobook while I do my crafts. I forgot how GOOD they are and how very different they are from the movies! (We read the majority of them before seeing most of the movies.) Did you realize that there are nifflers and bowtruckles in the Potter books?? After seeing them in the Fantastic Beasts movie, I didn’t realize I had already read about them ages ago!
So join me next week for some Potter crafts from after our trip–where I’ll update you on my dad’s backyard garden train Hogwarts castle, show you my repainted Dobby, and feature our wand and wand-box wall displays.
In the meantime, check out these grumpy little mandrake seedling necklaces I made, for sale in my Etsy shop! I’m pretty sure they keep bad things away. At least that’s what the shady dark-robed wizard in Knockturn Alley told me…. 😀
‘Til next week!
The thanksgiving holidays got me thinking about Hogwarts.
Oh, that’s weird. I should explain… Maybe it’s because of the full-scale Hogwarts my dad built by HAND in his garden train village off of their back porch…
Or maybe it’s because for the first time in our 14 years of marriage, we’re going on our very first REAL VACATION to HARRY POTTER WORLD in Florida!
What? You mean we’ve never gone on a vacation in fourteen years of marriage??? Nope. NEVER. And Professor McGonagall is silently judging me for it.
Being an army family, finding time and planning for a vacation is very tricky. The husband has been deployed three times in our daughter’s seven years. There are field exercises and training to work around. Most of our leave has been used relocating to new duty stations, trying to squeeze in visits to family along our way there. Fun, but not a “vacation.”
Once, when my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, he got two weeks of R&R, and we met up in Hawaii with our 2-year old Myla (who was in her very “terrible” phase then)… and then I returned with Myla to the frozen temps of Alaska, and the husband went straight back to Afghanistan. But I’m not sure that counts as a real “vacation,” does it?
Yeah, I didn’t think so either, Mad-Eye.
My husband and I have been pretty big Potter fans for ages. Early in our marriage, when we were kidless and waiting for our new home to be ready to move in, we spent hours in the hotel room, devouring all of the Harry Potter books. We didn’t do much else. But we had so much fun reading them all. Because we’re adults and we CAN.
Thank you, Professor Trelawney. I don’t think it sounds crazy at all, either.
Myla is seven now, and has excitedly braved her way through the entire series of Harry Potter movies (despite our warnings that they get darker and darker), and she LOVES them. (Snape is her very favorite…)
Honestly, it’s been a rough year, this year. A terrible, no good, very bad year. It seems to have been unusually unpleasant for a great deal of people.
I know, Voldemort. I get a headache just THINKING about how rough this past year’s been.
So I decided that now was the time. We were going to go. I was going to plan it. We’ve had the money saved for ages. We’ll need money for the bumpy road ahead next year, sure, but THIS money has always been saved for a vacation we’ve never taken. So we’re taking it, and we’re not going to feel a stitch bad about it at all.
(Don’t worry, Dumbledore. Don’t worry, McGonagall. We’ll be okay. We got this.)
We’ve only got a couple of days there. And we’re not going to Disney. We just want to go to Harry Potter World. We’ll get wands. We’ll get butterbeer. We’ll do all the fun “hidden” trivia things my friend Cathy told me about, since she goes all the time. I can’t wait! Just a couple of days there, but we will be wizards, and we will have so much fun. We deserve a little fun.
(I know, I know–Don’t worry, Dumbledore! Don’t worry, McGonagall! We’ll be okay! …I’m sure we’ll be okay…)
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of wonderful characters. And it seems JK Rowling has filled this magical, wonderful wizarding world full of them. I love to draw them. I love to paint them. I’ve done tiny portraits of them. I’ve done larger portraits of them.
And I think our love for that world has spread to Myla…and I’m okay with that.
The husband and I recently watched Fantastic Beasts, and loved it. (Myla hasn’t seen it yet–a few things in there she’s not ready for, but she’ll get there at her own pace.)
So we’ve only got a couple of weeks until our Harry Potter vacation. Our first REAL vacation. I’m so excited! Aren’t you?
So I’m going to celebrate. See that Newt Scamander doodle above? He was so much fun do draw! So I’m going to put 20 signed and numbered 8×10 fine art prints up in the Etsy shop. They’ll be waiting for you there, if you think one should live at your home. Or at a fellow Potterhead’s home. Just because.
So enjoy your fantastic beasts, and I’ll try to patiently count down the next couple of weeks until our Harry Potter Vacation! It’ll be difficult, but mischief will be managed…