DIY Wands Fit For a Wizard

One of my favorite traditions we had back home at my first bookstore was Harry Potter Day. We would celebrate the Boy Who Lived on his birthday, July 31 (or whatever Saturday was closest to that date). Many of us working there were huge Potterheads so of course we jumped at the chance to celebrate our favorite character and many of us would request to work that day just so we could dress up.

One year, when I was a little more acclimated to the store, I decided to get everyone excited for the in-store holiday by making wands. I found a lot of different ways to go about the process from websites like Pinterest, but over many trials and errors (I don’t suggest rolling them out of paper, but maybe I’m just bad at making those look realistic!) I found two methods that work for me depending on how much time I have and how many I have to make, but I’ll go through the longer method here and for those interested, you can check out the fast, cost effective method here.

The one I’m going through today is the one I used that first year I made wands and it turns out some really sturdy wands with some heft to them. These are good for actual presents and you can even give them specialty tags which I’ll get into in a second. As far as time goes, it probably took me about a week of on-and-off crafting (in-between school and work) to make about twenty wands. So let’s get to it!

First of all, you’ll need supplies. You’ll need 12″ dowel rods, some kind of sanding tool (my dad had blocks covered in sanding paper that made gripping easier), a hot glue gun, plenty of hot glue sticks, Mod Podge (preferably matte), and an assortment of acrylic paints.

SANDING

Once you’ve got everything, the fun can begin! I started by sanding down all of the dowel rods, partly so I could get rid of any gruffness that would make painting difficult, but mostly because the tips of the rods are usually blunt and that’s not very wand-like so I mostly concentrated my sanding there until the tip was rounded (you only have to focus on one end of each wand because the other end will get covered in hot glue so you can leave the handle-portion rough if you wanted to). I won’t lie, this process was one of the longest and most annoying, but you can always break it up by watching some Netflix or listening to a good podcast.

THE HANDLE

BUT. Once the sanding is done, the process gets so good. Who doesn’t love playing with hot glue? And this is a step that if you really like experimenting with different possibilities, you can never go wrong. There are literally thousands of ways you could do this step and I would argue that none of them are wrong as long as you are happy with the results. And there’s even a little room, I’ve found, to touch up the hot glue once it dries (immediately after it has dried) by pressing the tip of the glue gun (the hottest point) against the glue to maybe smooth something out or tweak something you don’t like.

Anyway, there are a few different ways you could go about the actual hot glue handle process if you don’t know where to start. There’s the classic twist, which looks pretty cool. Usually I would just start by holding the dowel straight down (unfinished tip pointing to the ceiling) and I’d get as much hot glue on the tip as possible and let gravity do its thing for a second, until the hot glue almost reaches full handle-length. Then I’d just place the tip of the glue gun near the top and start twisting the dowel  while dragging the tip through the drying glue. This is one of those you have some room to tweak while it dries and I would often drag the tip back through until it was as defined as I wanted. You can always add more glue if you’re not immediately satisfied with how it looks!

Another method is to hold the dowel parallel with your work surface and sort of haphazardly squeeze out the glue (quickly so it doesn’t dry) along the handle region. I like this method because sometimes you’ll get little “holes” in the glue and it makes it look interestingly organic. Sometimes I would take this step, let the glue dry just a bit, then I’d squeeze out a line of glue from the base of the handle to the end and then repeat until there were three or four parallel-ish lines down the handle. Also keep in mind that if you’re looking for a handle that’s smoother, you can always rub the freshly dried handle between your hands to smooth it out (note that for this step, it needs to still be warm enough to be pliable, but not hot enough to burn you or try to stick to your hands!).

Here are some of my wands after this process:

Image 2
Note the rounded tips!

MOD PODGE

Okay, so while this step is technically optional, I would highly recommend it. Either with a paintbrush or an art sponge, paint a thin layer over both the wood and the hot glue with your Mod Podge. This not only seals the wood so you retain more of the color from the paint without it seeping into the wood, but—most importantly—it allows the paint to stick to the hot glue. I’ve done the painting process a few times without it and honestly it’s so much easier when you just do a quick layer of Mod Podge because otherwise you sometimes have to do several layers of paint.

PAINTING

Finally! It’s hard to decide between this step and the hot glue step for which is my favorite, but it might be painting (shh, don’t tell the glue gun).

Like with the hot glue, there are SO MANY ways to go about this step. Do you want realistic wands that resemble the ones from the movie? In that case you’d want the obvious color palette: brown, black, and the occasional touch or grey or red. Do you want the wand to reflect a House or someone’s personality? Is it for a child who would flip for sparkles? The sky is the limit, then; you could even set some sort of gemstone in the base of the handle while the glue dries!

With this first batch I got a little fun with the colors, myself. I wanted some of them to reflect the Houses, or different personalities of the people I was making them for, or I took color requests from coworkers who were vocal about what they wanted. Therefore, I used everything from red to green to gold and even white. I made one for my husband that had a black handle touched with tones of grey and a yellow shaft dry-brushed with touches of gold since he’s a Hufflepuff:

Image 3
(He really likes sloths.)

Below, both of the wands to the left are Slytherin-inspired, with deep shades of green. For the one on the right, I got inspired by the idea of a wand with a unicorn-hair core and this was the result. However, I decided to keep it for myself because I thought it complemented Ravenclaw colors, haha.

Image 4

I knew my brother (the one who got me into Harry Potter in the first place) was interested when I texted him a picture of the completed batch and this was his response:

Image 8

Always eager to oblige (and craft), I made him a more realistic wand than the others:

Image 5
The handle was one of those quick, organic runs with the glue gun and then I did thin, uneven lines with the glue gun along the shaft. I painted the shaft a reddish-gold (since he’s totally a Gryffindor) then went over those thin lines with a brush of brown. I brushed the handle with some black to give it a more organic, mottled look.

And finally, the bulk of that batch:

Image 9

PERSONALIZED TAGS

If you’re interested in this extra step, all you’ll need is some sturdy paper, some twine or thread, and a one-hole punch (or, if you’re like me and don’t have one, you can easily improvise with a three-hole punch). I used some brown sketch paper I had lying around for crafting and it worked really well for me. I honestly wasn’t super rigid on this step; I didn’t follow a stencil or anything, though I’m sure there are plenty out there. I usually just punched the hole first and then cut tightly around it at the top, then gave it an oval or rounded rectangular shape from there. All I had was black thread (which probably isn’t the best because it’s insanely thin and difficult to tie, so I would instead recommend using either thin twine or hemp) so I used that to attach the tag to the individual wands.

The tags themselves had the type of wood, the core, and the length on them (which, since they were all 12″ dowel rods, there wasn’t much room for realistic stretching, but I fibbed on a few, making them 11 3/4″ or 12 1/4″ here and there—it’s about the experience, people!). I basically looked up the different wood used in wandmaking (different woods have different properties and of course different looks, so keep that in mind if you’re interested) as well as the different cores—there’s everything from hypogriff feather to unicorn or Veela hair and, of course, dragon heartstring. And then, on the back of the tag, I put the name of the person who was receiving the wand as a personal touch.

Image 10
Also note on the handle, this is what I meant earlier when I mentioned the organic “holes” that come up sometimes. If you play them up, the effect is usually really cool!

 

And that’s it! You’re ready to make your very own {inexpensive} wand! This isn’t nuanced, but I think the key here is to have fun with it and, if you’re making them as gifts, to consider what the person would enjoy and then just go for it! They were a huge hit on Harry Potter Day and it really added to the spirit of the day, allowing everyone to feel like a witch or wizard for at least a few hours.

Thanks for reading,

Ali

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