Harry Potter

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 whiskandthread.com

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
Scissors

Directions:

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 WhiskandThread.com

FOR EASY MODE:
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 whiskandthread.com

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!

MEDIUM MODE:
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 whiskandthread.com

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.

BEAST MODE:
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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What’s a Harry Potter party without the lovely floating candles in the great hall of Hogwarts? (Answer: probably still a pretty good party, but I’m going all out so floating candles are happening at my house.)

There are a bunch of tutorials online about how to make the night sky with floating candles. I decided to use those tutorials to make candles, which I will post about in a separate post at some point. But I’m doing a Halloween version… which means it needs to look more like this:

Harry Potter Halloween Feast

(obviously not my photo – property of Warner Bros. and HP Overlords)

That means I need pumpkins.  Pumpkins that can easily hang from the ceiling. Or magically float… Somehow…

uhh.wow
It turns out that Michael’s and Joann’s have these “funkins” or “craft pumpkins” because they read my mind and want all my money. Luckily they took pity on me and also had them on sale. (Related note: did you know that Joann’s honors competitors’ coupons such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels? Yup.)  So I bought 3 for my small hallway to float along with the candles in what will soon be the Great Hall. They’re perfect for this.

And now for my incredibly long tutorial on how to carve these awesome craft/foam pumpkins and have them “float” in mid air. It isn’t that different than carving regular pumpkins, but here’s the full explanation.

Supplies:
craft pumpkin
pencil
good eraser
x-acto knife
pin vice or very sharp tooth pick/skewer
clear string/fishing line
blunt sewing needle (or sharp one if you’re feeling invincible)
small flashlight (I used the one on my phone)
pliers – small to medium sized
thumb tack that match your ceiling color (or just get some paint to match – which means you might need paint)
battery powered tea light (flickering ones are best but not necessary – I found a large pack at Target in the candle section)
LOTS of time and patience.

Directions:
First: Lightly draw (in pencil) the outline of your face onto the pumpkin.  If you want, you could even get stencils and trace onto there. The “skin” of these foam pumpkins indents pretty easily. That’s the main reason why I say lightly draw – you want to be able to erase it easily if you end up deviating a bit and also, if that happens you don’t want a giant pencil mark indention.

Please note: these dudes will break. So treat them much like a regular pumpkin. Patience is a virtue.

Next: Get your handy dandy x-acto knife – preferably a sharp one – and start to carve the pumpkin. NORMALLY with regular pumpkins, you would cut open the top, and scoop out the gunk inside (and save the seeds for baking). These guys are already hollow AND you’re going to be hanging them, so they need to stay whole – hence why you start right away with the carving with an exacto knife. (NOTE: I bought 3 pumpkins. One of them had a real funk – a chemical/plastic-y smell when I cut into it. If you’re sensitive to smells, cut part of an eye out and just set it aside and let it air out a bit. Just heads up…)

Some important tips about this:

1. I suggest starting with the eyes. Cut the full circles (or triangles) out first. I found that it’s easier to center things once you have the eyes in place and also gives you something extra to hold on to to help you pop out bits as you go. Also this is the easiest and least detailed part. Teeth suck.

2. Think small. Cut out small pieces at a time. Don’t try and cut out the entire mouth and expect it to just pop out all easy-like. That’s how you break teeth (and lots of crying. No crying in Halloween.)

Floating Pumpkin How-To by whiskandthread.com - Pumpkin Picture 1

Part of the mouth removed – just the left molars.

3. Make sure at least one of your eyes is big enough or mouth is wide enough to get a battery powered tea light inside. Since the whole pumpkin is intact, you need to have a way to get the tea light inside.

4. Take breaks. I have a callus on my finger from using the x-acto knife for 2 solid hours. These guys aren’t easy to carve. I’ll post later about regular pumpkin carving because it’s actually easier and you can do a lot more with it (at least that’s how I feel anyway… it’s also messier and I get snacks out of it. Win/win.)

5. Use small motions. It’s really difficult to try and make big sweeping lines with the x-acto knife and also the foam isn’t kind to that sort of thing.

6. For some reason, different brands look different. And sometimes same brand pumpkins look different (like mine). Just go with it if this happens to you. In the end, when the lights are dimmed and they’re hanging and lit up, they all look pretty much the same.

Floating Pumpkin How-To by whiskandthread.com - Pumpkin Picture 2

7. A sharp x-facto knife is REALLY helpful. It’ll save you time on the cleanup — the next step.

Next: Once you’ve gotten your basic shapes – mouth, eyes, nose – cut out, you can go back and clean it up again. For me, there’s always some rigid areas, around the teeth especially. If you use the x-acto knife to make those a little straighter, it’ll make the whole pumpkin look a lot more polished and real. Or if you happen to have a Dremel, this would be SUPER handy. But those things are expensive. Now is also the time to very lightly erase any remaining pencil marks. Be sure to use a good eraser and not to erase too hard or you’ll erase some of the paint/color.

Floating Pumpkin How-To by whiskandthread.com - Pumpkin Picture 3

Before cleanup

 

Floating Pumpkin How-To by whiskandthread.com - Pumpkin Picture 4

After cleanup – mostly erased pencil marks

NEXT! Get out that pin vise or your sharp toothpick. I didn’t own a pin vise. My boyfriend did. Because he’s amazing. And also because he builds Gundams. We’re crafty (and nerdy) folks. Anyway, if you don’t have one, check it out. You can get reasonably priced ones on Amazon or at a hardware store. It’s basically a hand drill. You press this screwdriver-looking thing down onto the thing you want to put a hole in, and then while pressing down with your palm you twist the vise and it drills into that thing. It’s AWESOME. Also, if you’re going to do the candles along with these pumpkins, it’s totally worth the $12ish investment. TRUST ME. Anyway! Back to instructions…. You’ll want to make two small holes at the top of the pumpkin – directly across from each other, with the stem in the middle.

Floating Pumpkin How-To by whiskandthread.com - Pumpkin Picture 6

Next: Cut about 3 to 6 feet of string – depending on how low you want your pumpkin to hang. It’s going to be about half that length from the ceiling. Then you can thread your needle (or not, depending on how stiff/cooperative your thread/fishing line is) and drop it through one hole and make sure there is enough string through the hole to where you can pull it through the mouth to the outside. Then grab the other end of the string and thread your needle with that side and drop it down through the other hole and pull the end outside the mouth as well. Then you can tie a knot with the two ends outside the mouth – NOT through the eyes, because it’ll end up wrapping around the nose area. Basically this is the easiest way to create a loop inside your pumpkin so it hangs evenly and doesn’t spin around in circles from a single string. You’re just tying the ends together and that way you just have a loop going over the top of the pumpkin. [If this is confusing, leave a comment and I’ll do a video or send more pictures.]

Floating Pumpkin How-To by whiskandthread.com - Pumpkin Picture 7

handy dandy pliers

 

Floating Pumpkin How-To by whiskandthread.com - Pumpkin Picture 8

One end going in

 

Finally: Turn on a small battery-powered tea light and stick it through an eye or through the mouth. I had a small mouth on mine, so I had to bounce the pumpkin around a bit to get the tea light end to end up where I wanted it, but it’s not that big of a deal. Then get your thumb tack and tack the line to the ceiling! (Tip: I sometimes make a loop around the pointy/pin part of the thumb tack just to make sure there’s no chance of the wire sliding out from under it.)

THEN REPEAT!

Also, these totally work during any general Halloween party as well, so while they’re pretty time intensive, they’re something you can continue to use over the years (especially if you do Halloween as grandiose as I do). Good luck!

Until later: Mischief Managed. :)

Floating Pumpkin How-To by whiskandthread.com - Great Hall

 

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Wand Tutorial - Whiskandthread.com

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.

Supplies:
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 - Whiskandthread.com

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 - Whiskandthread.com

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 - Whiskandthread.com

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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We are incredibly lucky and we live in quite a large house. We rent this place, but it’s reasonably priced (which is rare in Austin, Texas), and it has two stories with an open floor plan downstairs. That means it’s great for parties.

We decided for this party, we would split each room downstairs into it’s own house common area. So Ravenclaw is in our small library, Gryffindor will be in the living room (because it has a fireplace), Hufflepuff is in the dining room, and Slytherin is in what we currently call the LAN cave. Because we’re dorks and have our PS3s setup in there so we can play Borderlands 2 together. (I warned y’all about that geek thing.) I think it was at one point a patio that was closed in, so it’s a step down and seems kind of dungeon like, which is perfect for Slytherin. We’re also turning our kitchen into Honeydukes.

The main plan right now is to add house-themed curtains EVERYWHERE, on top of traditional Hogwarts things. It is also a Halloween party, so my boyfriend is in charge of making sure there are enough Halloween-themed elements as well. That’s the super basic plan.

Craft project list includes:
– Making curtains
Making wands
– Floating candles
Floating pumpkins
– Photo booth using an Azkaban Wanted background/sign
– Handmade Owls
– Horcruxes (to hide and give to those who find them)
– Jack-o-lanterns
– “Brick wall” for Platform 9 3/4
– Phoenix perch
– SPEW buttons
– Invitations
– Printed things and handmade signs for everything…

So this is where it begins. And hopefully it’ll turn out as well as I hope. Stay tuned.

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