Geeky Things

When I decided to throw a Harry Potter Party, I went all out. Because that’s how I do things. Full obsession or complete apathy. And what Harry Potter party is complete with out the floating candles from the Great Hall?

Floating candle DIY - by

It’s really not as hard as I thought it would be. There are some varying levels of this project. I went medium grade this round. We’re doing the HP party every other year for Halloween, I think. I made SO many things and it was such a great hit, I’d hate to not use it all again. Anyway, here’s how I did it.

Things you need:
Toilet paper rolls and/or paper towel rolls
White paint
Paint brush (you can use the cheap foam ones or a fairly large brush)
Hot glue gun
Regular glue for glue gun (nothin’ fancy)
Battery powered tea lights (I used flickering ones that I found in the candle section of Target, the Room Essentials brand, because they were MUCH cheaper than the ones you could find in the Halloween section, and it doesn’t matter what they actually look like, but white would be best)
Clear string/fishing wire
Pin vice (seriously, this is worth the $10-$12 investment)
Push Pins


1. Take all of the tea lights you plan to use, and using the pin vice, drill a very tiny hole at the center near the top of the plastic flame.

Floating Candle DIY by

2. Use the paintbrush and paint the toilet paper rolls white. Set them aside to dry.

3. Once the paint is dry, take your hot glue gun and glue around the tea light and insert it inside the top of the toilet paper roll. You may have to press it against one side a bit, depending on the sizes of the roll and tea light.

Floating Candle DIY - by

At this point, this is the super easy end! Just attach your string to however long you want the candle to hang, and with the pin, attach to the ceiling. If you want some more detail or more challenge, continue reading!

4. Once everything is dry, get out your fancy glue gun again. This time glue “drips” from the top to look like wax is melting down the side of the candle.

Floating Candle DIY - by

5. I decided to paint over the glue once it was dry. My thought was that the wax needed to also be white like the candle. This is totally optional. You could also go a super creepy route and paint the “wax drips” red or black. Go crazy! You do you!

And now we’re done with medium mode! Go ahead and get that string and cut the length that you want and hang it with a pin to your ceiling. It wasn’t that much more work, but when you’re doing a couple dozen of these things, it can get tedious. There is one other option to make your Harry Potter Great Hall look complete. I did not do this, but there are other tutorials that have, and they look amazing.

This requires more supplies. If you’re working with a small hallway, this is more manageable. To make your floating candles look like the night sky in the Great Hall, you’ll need some black or navy blue material (or realistic starry night sky material if you can find it) that is large enough to cover the entire ceiling area where your candles are going. You can try your hand with some fabric paints to make some splatters and dots of various sizes to look like stars (or go super awesome and paint away a galaxy). If you’re not into painting, you can just hang the plain fabric on your ceiling before pinning all the floating candles. This will give your hallway ceiling a bit more depth and will create a better illusion of candles floating in the sky.

Some notes:
– Why didn’t I attach the string to the sides of the tube instead of using the vice pin and drilling through the tea light? Well, I tried that at first. It will work in a pinch; however, it can cause some balance issues because the candle becomes top heavy with the tea light. When I used the paper towel rolls (which are significantly longer) they almost toppled over with the strings on the side. So I decided to try the pin vice and it definitely looked better and balanced well.
– Having trouble turning lights on? Try using a long butter knife. This is something I didn’t anticipate the first round – how the heck to turn the lights on after all the crafting is done. If you find the tea lights that have a button that you push to turn on, you’re gold. I didn’t, though. The switch ones are much trickier and can be really frustrating. I didn’t use many paper towel rolls because of this – I tried to stick to shorter toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls that were cut down a bit.

Let me know how this goes! If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email. Post pictures and definitely share if you go beast mode on this!

Happy crafting!

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Wand Tutorial -

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. The way most people (and craft stores) feel about Christmas, I feel about Halloween. If I had a giant amount of cash in my possession, I’d have the most amazing parties on Halloween and live on peanut butter and ramen the rest of the year.

Also I’m a giant nerd. This year’s theme for our annual Halloween masquerade ball was determined shortly after some friends of mine and I participated in the Geeks Who Drink Harry Potter trivia. It was brutal. There were 100 teams, 6 people per team. That means 600 uber geeks mumbling curses under their breath at each other, waving tiny sticks in other people’s general direction, and drinking all the butter beer they’d give us. We placed 20th, which is respectable, but it was all over too quickly. My amazing boyfriend recommended we do a Harry Potter theme for our masquerade ball. And that was the end of all our normal conversations. Until somebody gives me that giant wad of cash, I’m cheap by necessity. So I craft everything I can. Including all the party things.

So, first things first: wands. There are tons of tutorials for wands like this out there, but here are the details on how I made mine and a few tips I learned the hard way.

cheap wooden chopsticks
glue gun
acrylic paint
marbles (optional)
super glue (only if using marbles)
glitter or paint pen (optional)
sandpaper (also optional)

There are ways to make these simple wands incredibly intricate or super basic – depending on your skill level and time.

1. OPTIONAL: If you have a chopstick that has square edges, take the chopstick and sand it down to make sure the edges are gone and if necessary (and if you want to), you can sand the tip to be more pointed. I have some chopsticks that had no edges and came to a point, and others that were squared on the sides and at the end. You don’t have to do this, but it does look a bit better finished if they’re not square.

2. Get ready to glue! First you must heat your glue gun. (Parental advisory on this part. I know I burned the snot out of myself with a glue gun as a kid). Here’s where you get to be super creative. Use the glue gun to create a handle on the thickest end of your chop stick. This can mean adding a bead around the very bottom and another ring of glue a few inches down from that, or you can cover the entire bottom to make it thicker than the rest. You could also use different colors of glue in your glue gun if you wanted to save some time on painting. (If you use colored wax, paint your “wand” the color you want it before doing this colored wax part. I’ve never done that, but it’s totally doable. DO NOT USE CRAYONS IN YOUR HOT GLUE GUN! I’m about to write a post as to why, so check back. But trust me on this on. Here are some basic examples:

Wand Tutorial -

Note about this part — if you wait until the glue is beginning to set and it’s not too hot, you can get your hands slightly wet (I just licked my fingers. Let’s be real here.) and you can kind of mold the glue to shape how you want. This is how I got things to look smoother on some of the handles. I would NOT recommend letting kids do this because more times than not I ended up going “Ouchouchouch. That’s really hot. I didn’t really need that thumb.” But just in case you were wondering how some of these handles look smooth – that’s how. If you look down a little further there’s a picture of a finished wand that has a really smooth handle, as an example.

3. OPTIONAL: Put a big glob of glue on the thick end of the wand (at the bottom of your new handle) and then stick a marble on it.

4. Continue making designs on your wand if you want something other than a basic handle — like the twists and extra rings.

5. When the glue is dried, if you did not use a marble, paint and decorate as much (or as little) as you want! If you used a marble, I would recommend snapping it off before painting. The hot glue doesn’t usually hold the glass marbles very well and you don’t want to get paint on it. (I’ll explain how to attach it again later but trust me, you want to hot glue it first so you have a perfectly round imprint in the glue at the bottom of your wand.) I mostly painted different colors of brown, occasionally a black or gray wand. I also used a silver paint pen and painted the wax design on one of them. I covered a few in Modpodge just to give them more shine. It’s all up to you.

Wand Tutorial -

6. OPTIONAL: Reattaching the marble. Once your wand is completely dry, use super glue and put a small dab on the wand where your marble once was. Then attach the marble. This will keep it there. Forever. And ever. (Unless you’re really rough with it or drop it, but it’s much sturdier than just the hot glue and you can always just glue it back if it breaks off.)

And that’s how I did the wands for super cheap.

Wand Tutorial -

Let me know if you have any questions or if there’s something that you did that worked out way better – I’m pretty sure there are other methods out there, and as always with me, I’d love to hear how other people improve on these things. As for now… mischief managed. :)

(Note: Just for the record, in case anyone has come across this before, this was published originally at my old blog This Side of Dandelions.)

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Have you ever had at least 5 different kinds of glue sitting on your desk, each with a very specific purpose and recently used? That’s where I’ve been lately. Glue, feathers, chopsticks, marbles, lists upon lists, jack-o-lantern doodles, tiaras and paper. What in the world am I doing, you ask?

I’m having a Harry Potter masquerade ball. Like any other normal 30 year old does on Halloween. Ahem…

But seriously, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I take my Halloweens very seriously. Last year we threw a vampire masquerade ball – formal blood-splattered invitations, tiny jack-o-lanterns and the like:

Mini Carved Pumpkins for a Vampire Masquerade Halloween -

It was actually quite a big to do, honestly. After I finish this Harry Potter party, I’ll come back and talk about how I managed to vamp up the entire house on a super cheap budget.

I do crafts all the time (not just Halloween), and I make cupcakes for friends’ birthdays/baby showers/special events/just because events. I’ve had a few folks ask if I would start a blog, and I actually had this one already. So here I am doing the blog thing again. :) There are some posts from the past that I deleted (in case this isn’t your first visit here — and if that’s the case, HI! And welcome back!), but I’m hoping this will turn into a regularly updated blog on crafts, baking, geeky things, probably a few pugs, and any other fun thing I come across. Thanks for dropping by! More Halloween and Harry Potter updates are coming soon.

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