Saturday, June 28, 2014

Front yard sketch

Quick sketch of roughly what the front yard will look like. 

House Rings

Daaaw, Sam found these rings online and got them for me.  I think they'll serve as either rings or maybe I'll be able to do something with them.

Book end project

Picked up a plastic doe and stag, planning on spray painting them silver and make book ends. Might try and find an appropriate quote from the book. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Another wand session

Yay,  more productivity!  Natalie came over and we plowed through 41 wands!  This brings us up to 97 wands for the trick or treaters!  Also had her beta test the scooters for the seeker for the quidditch games and gained approval on them as being fun,  not just frustrating as Sam and I began to find them.

Have been pondering about the gravestones.  They're a large project, and I'm a bit concerned about how difficult they'll be to construct.  In theory, they shouldn't be too arduous depending on the shape.  I may just get some foam/insulation board and go ahead and try one, just to have a better idea of how they'll be.  I'm getting to the point where I mocked up some out of cardstock.  July or August might be gravestone month.  

Dragon Lair sketch

A bit of a sketch for how the dragon lair might end up looking.  I find it's often valuable for me to sketch stuff,  just to solidify the image of how everything is going to be setup. It can also reveal gaps or missing parts that are otherwise hard to visualize.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ravenclaw Scarf

Finished up another scarf--Ravenclaw!  The colors aren't exactly right.  Ravenclaw is blue and bronze, but I couldn't find any bronze like colors, so I went with a dark yellow color that some other people had used in their scarves.

Also made some badges then stuck them to adhesive pin backs. 

Cornish Pixie Mobile

Another Pinterest project I stumbled across earlier today and that only took a few hours to complete.  Someone had made a mobile with cutouts of cornish pixies on blue paper.  Found a good image online, played with the contrast and brightness a bit so it was very clear, then printed out on blue paper.  I ended up using my exacto knife to cut them out, mostly because I'm comfortable with it, and it made it easier to make small awkward cuts.  I then strung them up on some string, and tied them to a wire structure I made with a hanger and some wire.  They fell once while I was trying to hang it and it got super tangled up, so it took a bit to detangle it, but other than that, I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out, especially as it was a quick project.


Original report card
Got inspired from a pinterest project that had done Hogwarts report cards for each of their guests.  This was the original picture.  I thought it was very clever, and wanted to do something similar.  I realized that with all the activities, games, etc. that it would make sense to have a list or pamphlet or something that listed everything; that way I wouldn't have to explain everything to each guest.  So I came up with making a "Class schedule and Activities"  and detailed what was going on with all the activities I had planned.  It also helped me to have everything written down and laid out.

On the back I put a description of how the house points could be awarded; participating in various activities, classes, finishing trivia and games, etc.

School Trunks

This was the first draft
This version is what I ultimately went with.
Had a thought that with all the various papers and pamphlets, wands, candy boxes, etc, it's a lot to carry around/keep track of for the party.  So I figured the best way to store it?  Obviously a Hogwarts school trunk!  Already had some brown paper bags from long ago (big enough to store everything).  Added a few strips of paper that looked like leather.  I initially printed out some leather looking texture I found on the internet, and then realized (dur) I could just stop by my local craft store and find some scrapbook paper without using my ink up.  I cut the paper up into ~ 1 inch strips and put them lengthwise on the bag with glue sticks.  While I was at the craft store, I also found some iron on little squares (meant to be used on jeans) but that would totally look awesome as rivets on the trunk and add a little dimension.  The last step was to look up a chest latch or keyhole, print them out, and cut them up closely.  I played with a few layout options for all the elements, but ultimately ended up with this variation.  I also made up some "luggage tags" that had a line for a name to be added to keep track of all the bags.


Finally put on all of the rivets to the 'trunks' and put on ALL the luggage tags.  They're all ready to go--just have to figure out the best way to display them--open or kept flat.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Slytherin Scarf

Quick slytherin scarf for either the polyjuice potion station...or in supporting the quidditch games.  Either way...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Quidditch Logistics

Did a few trial and error experiments with the Quidditch game this evening.  Sam and I tried out taking turns catching the snitch, and doing points with the bean bags.  Learned a few things.

  1. The game is going to be fairly short--like under 3 minutes--because the snitch is found rather quickly.  We also figured out that both of us going after it added a bit of adrenaline and competition into the game, further shortening the time (like to under a minute).  
  2. We're (possibly) going to need more bean bags.  You can throw quite a few in the span of even a few minutes.  I had the whole sack of 40, and each of us was able to throw them all in about a 2 minute span.  So a few options--make more of ALL the house colors, OR assign two colors to each team (like if Gryffindor and Slytherin were playing against each other, Gryffindor might get red and yellow, Slytherin might get green and blue).
  3. We tried a new method with the ping pong balls, which was to throw them all over the grass and then have to bend over and search for them.  I'm torn about this option.  In some ways it makes it much more like a snitch hunt--in others, it's more of a pain in the ass to bend over or crawl around looking for it.  But the time it took to find the snitch was much longer (and by much, I mean ~20 seconds) than if they were just in the box. 
  4. At some point, we had the (perhaps impetuous) idea to get board/roller scooters for the seekers so they wouldn't be bending over.  Also, the way the layout is, there would be 2 sets of hoops at opposite ends, with team members throwing bean bags from opposite sides of the field.  With the seekers and balls in the middle.  There is also some skill in navigating the scooters, so that might extend the game a bit as well.  
  5. We played with the idea of moving the game to the driveway.  The advantages are mostly weather centered.  If it rains (or mostly, has rained) then the grass will be muddy/soggy/nasty and all my prep will be for naught.  If it's on the driveway, it'll at least be relatively dry (as long as it's not constant rain).  The other advantage is that there is no tree, so nothing to get in the way of throwing bean bags.  Also, there are fences and 'walls' that can be decorated very cool to make it look more like a quidditch field that would just be much more difficult to do on the grass.  
    1. The disadvantages to the driveway is mostly just the concrete is more of a bummer if you're bending over.  Although another advantage is that if it gets too dark, the security light would provide some needed light for play.  
    2. We're also considering moving the firepit slightly more onto some bricks on the grass, giving more room on the porch.  Which would encroach on the room for the quidditch field. 
I'm going to do one more phase of testing tonight once it gets properly dark enough--using the rainbow lights in the box.  I'm wondering how much that will distort finding the balls, and it would be less messy than flinging the balls all over.

Okay, just came back from some testing with the lights.  Definitely distracting, and make it harder to see the snitch.  They create shadows so it makes it harder to see what's a mark and what's not.  Might work instead of the scattering of the balls.  Possibly.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Porch entrance sketch

Just a quick sketch of an idea for the porch entrance. I like the drawbridge idea--not a ramp,  as I'd be worried the kids might trip,  but just a piece of wood on the ground would be simple enough.  The photo booth I would actually probably move up the driveway a bit so that it didn't block the entrance. 

The portcullis I'm not sure what the height should be.  Would be easier to do short,  but wide,  taking up the whole width.  Could also do one large one with a split in the middle they could walk through--slightly spookier.  Given the difficulty with the last one I made,  I'm inclined towards the short but wide option.

Also playing with the idea of adding stained glass windows by taking cellophane and putting white paper behind it to light it up.  Need to do a practice run on it first to see if it would work.  

Monday, June 16, 2014


Tip: Use SUPER good, comfortable,
sharp scissors, or your hands
will be raw by the end. 
This is about 5 tubes worth;
each strand is 4-8 feet; 8 strands.
Picked up some more pipe insulation today at Smith's.  They have the black kind, 1" diameter (the larger the better for this project).  Four 3 foot tubes for ~$5.  Makes lots of chain.  Not sure exactly where all of it will go except for the library, and possibly roping off the front yard--maybe some for the quidditch game?  And perhaps some on the porch--I'd also love to do a drawbridge of some kind--even just a flat piece of cardboard or plywood with the chains drawing up from the edges would look cool.  Hmm...have to think about that.  Anyway, spent a few hours just cutting them up very thinly (around ~1/2 inch or so), then connecting them with a dob of glue with the glue gun on the cold temp setting (this is important, as if it's on the hot setting, the foam melts and you burn the !@#$ out of your fingers).  Also important--you only have to disconnect/rip about half of the connectors.  With the ripped ones, you connect two whole ones--makes the process go much faster than if you connect each one with glue.

Should also mention that this is a pretty relaxed, easy project--one of the things I love about it too is that this kind of chain I can use and reuse for future years--just have to store it in a garbage bag for next year:)

The ring on the right hanging down is 'whole', so you're only connecting every other link--makes the process go faster.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bean Bags

Took the first step on a small, but key, project: bean bags!  They're for the quidditch game, throwing them through the hoops.  Now technically, I suppose I could have done a bunch of quaffle looking things, but I figured these would make it easier to keep score.  Found a bit of fabric in ththereant bins that matched all four houses, and made a quick template (about the size of a palm).  Then began to cut away.

I made enough for at least 10 bags of each color (which yes, is a lot, but it means less time gathering them up after each game).  Now it'll just be a matter of sewing up 3 sides, adding a scoop of beans or rice, then sewing up the other side.  Hoping I made them big enough...

Sewed up a couple of these bags--so far so good.  Also pinned a whole stack of them; the going back and forth from sewing and pinning was a little annoying.  I prefer just doing the same thing over and over instead of stopping in the middle.  So I paused and pinned them all.  Next step will be to sew the rest.

Sewed together the last of the bean bags, turned them inside out, filled with a few scoops of pinto beans, and sewed them back up.  Got most of them done except for a couple when I ran out of beans. Will get another bag. And depending on how the game is played, might need more bags. I ended up with 10 each, but there's enough fabric for twice that many. Will know more with some trial and error playing the game.

Quidditch scoreboard

Put together a scoreboard using paper and a 3 ring binder.  Also made house crest/labels that can be changed out for each game.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Daily Prophet Completion

Yay for being productive!  Had a wand session with Sarah where we finished 36 wands (huzzah!) and hashed out a couple of the projects, coming up with some excellent plan b's, and discarding a few options that had been lurking on a couple of the projects.  This is why it's awesome to have someone a) as nerdy as me and b) willing to BE nerdy with me.  Also, this session takes us up to 56 wands for trick-or-treaters, 29 fancier ones for the party. (85 total)

 On another note, also finished the Daily Prophet newspaper I've been slowly chipping away at in my spare moments.  This one was not nearly as difficult as the one I made back in 2007; that one I made a lot of the material from scratch, and it was a huge production to put together.  Fortunately enough time has gone by for Harry Potter materials to be archived on the internet, and so there is a lovely website with ALL the articles from the Daily Prophet over the course of all the books.  So it was mostly just a matter of copying and pasting (and a little layout magic, which took me back to my newspaper editing days in high school).  I may add to it before October, but it's 10 pages right now, which is a fairly decent size for a prop, and I'm generally pleased with how it looks.

In chains

Started a few strands of chains from slicing up pipe insulation and gluing them back together.  To buy chain for Halloween is hella expensive, to the point that getting real chain is actually more cost effective, but it's usually way too heavy to do much with.  So when I found this project, I was very excited.  I had attempted this last year with disastrous results (fyi--use the COLD temp on the glue gun), but this year they turned out much easier to make and far fewer burned fingers.  Some will go on my bedroom door for the "Library: Restricted Section" sign, and I'm guessing I can use them kind of wherever--it's a castle, so if I find a blank spot, they won't be a bad place to go.  Plus, they're cheap and easy to assemble, and they look cool.  Found this particular one at Home Depot, which is gray, but I know the ones at Smith's are black, so I think I'll just do some of both.  Also need to see if my uncle wants any for his Halloween this year--he's doing zombies, so some chain might be warranted...

I also got the slightly larger pipe to make it easier to link them up.
**UPDATE**  Thought of another place to use these--to rope off the cemetery so that the neighborhood kids don't trample over the grass to get a look at the gravestones.  I see lots more chain making in my future.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Gravestone sketches

Just a few sketches of some possible gravestones for the front yard.  Haven't decided which ones I'm going to ultimately do.  Maybe play around with doing one of them and then see how easy they are to construct.  Ideally, I'd like to do enough to cover the front yard so that my dementor can weave in and out of them at least a little.

The blue halogen light that came last week will also look really cool when cast on them.  I want enough light so that the names will be at least a little visible.

Wand Boxes

The one I ultimately decided to
go with., involving small moving
boxes, holding 12 wand boxes.
One of the things I've been scouring the internet for are some boxes that will fit the wands we've been making.  I was ideally hoping for some necklace boxes.  The problem with these is that most aren't long enough (need 12" long), and when they are, they are usually square instead of rectangular.  I was hoping to be able to use the shoe organizers that Mom found at NPS, but the size of the cheapest boxes that I could find (12x3x3) are just big enough when assembled to only be able to fit in one of the cubbies.  So I've played with a couple options.  I found some small moving boxes at home depot that are 16x12x12, which holds 12 of the wand boxes with some space.  May be able to put some shelving in to make getting at the wands easier, but at this point, it's my best option.

A couple of the options/formations I played with before deciding on the one on the right.

The wand boxes in one of the shelves.  Need to take off the sides, and do a little shelving in there...and wrap the whole thing, but it allows me to stack a few of these next to each other and on top of each other.  Should use up 3-4 boxes, so 36-48 wands total.  
Sketch of the final box formation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Side project: Game of Thrones Party

Super side project, but Sam's birthday came up and Mom and I went a little crazy and did a Game of Thrones themed food, decorations, etc.  We wanted to do something a little extra, and as we've gotten into GoT lately, this seemed a good theme.  We spent a frenzied whole week pulling together decorations, costumes, labels, food, etc.  Turned out really cool and Sam was super surprised.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Honeydukes Part 1

Not sure how extensive my Honeydukes display is going to be, but I started putting together a few display ideas today.  Had ordered some cardstock, which is awesome for folding boxes, and had lots of cardboard boxes that I used to cobble together a display box.

So far I've made a box for the chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's beans (which I found online and printed/put together), along with one for Tooth Splintering Strongmints and Chocoballs (which I made). I still want to keep working on a few other options, but these at least are all a little different from each other.

The display box I'd like to either paint or wrap in wrapping paper to cover all the duct tape and cardboard.  The cool thing about the box is that I put in a little step to raise a second layer on each shelf, which should make the candy a lot more visible.


Put together a few more boxes and the display is coming along very nicely:)