Avada Kedavra! Just Kidding.

Continuing on with the Zombiegirl’s Harry Potter Party…

Since I wasn’t going to be holding a Defense against the Dark Arts class, the kids would have no way of knowing what spells to use with their wands. So I figured I would give each kid a spell, charm and potions handbook to take home. During my lunch hours a few months before the party (um, yeah, lunch hour….), I compiled a list of Spells from The Harry Potter Lexicon using their Encyclopedia of Spells. I added Potions and Potion Ingredients from their Encyclopedia of Potions and from Harry Potter Wiki. In fact, these two websites were invaluable to me- this is where I got most of the details for the party. To the book I added a brief History of Hogwarts and a few pages for notes, a title page and a cover. The cover was printed on the same parchment cardstock I used for the invitations- thanks, Rob! The only problem I had printing the book was the layout. I’m not good with pages and printing on two sides so it took me a few sample printings to get the order right in MS Word and at the printer. Finally, the pages worked and I was ready to assemble. Another lunch hour (snort) to assemble the books and staple. My work graciously let me use their deep throated stapler (bwahahahahaaa!)

Now the kids will have the books (no cost to me, yay!) and a place to take notes. The ONLY thing a Hogwarts student would be using to take notes is a quill pen, right? I need feathers. Michaels had packages of turkey feathers in white and different colors (black for Z-girl) so I picked up enough for everyone. When I got them home, however, I realized the shaft wasn’t hollow. Well, it would be hollow if it didn’t look like it was vacuum-sucked in. I got a Bic pen insert about an inch up the shaft (OMG this is sounding so dirty….) before it couldn’t go any further. CRAP! I remember making quill pens when I was a kid using seagull feathers I found on the beach. I definitely couldn’t use these Michaels feathers so I started researching were to by genuine feathers online. I found a feather place on West 38th street in the garment district. I called and they confirmed they had feathers I could use for pens.

I promptly forgot about the quills until the Wednesday before the party. I HAD to get these feathers the next day since I wasn’t going in to work on Friday (stove repair man coming). I figured I would stop in the morning when I get in to Penn Station. After a late start at home on Thursday, I got into the city and walked up to 38th Street. I turned THE WRONG WAY (WEST) on 38th Street and didn’t realize it until I ran out of buildings, somewhere around 9th. I called the place and they said they were between 6th and 5th. Wonderful! It’s the first hot day of the year, I’m totally overdressed, and now I’m four VERY long blocks out of my way. And late. I get to Dersch Feather and am blown away by the amount and beauty of all the feathers they have displayed. My mind does a creative flip trying to think of what I could possible do with all this! John snuck up from behind some boxes and when I told him what I needed, he was thrilled! Seems like he’s a Potter Head, too. Had the Hogwart’s denim jacket to prove it! But…he couldn’t tell me what type of feather was used for the quills. He showed me a few and we settled on the turkey feathers. The shaft was indented in like my other feathers, but a little higher- I would be able to get more pen up the shaft. Twelve dollars later (cash- no debit, no credit- I had to leave to find a cash machine) and I had a handfull of long white quills. Since I’m not versed in the Manhattan bus system, I couldn’t figure out how to get uptown on the east side, so since I was late anyway, I walked. From 38th Street to 48th Street. Sweating, carting a bagful of Girl Scout Cookies and feathers. Mama’s not a happy one, this morning. I get to work, down a full bottle of water, race like a pee horse and log into my workstation. I scout out the supply cabinet for pens, and come up empty. Crap again! I’m going to have to buy Bics. Thank goodness they’re cheap, around $2 for a pack of 10.

When I get home I start trimming the ends of the feathers and pulling out the inserts of the pens. I try to stick the pen in the shaft, but again, it doesn’t go all the way in. Now I’m desperate, and start cutting the pens to fit. And getting ink all over my hands, the table, the feathers and the scissors. I try to do the rest in a neat and clean manner, but my hands turn slowly blue-black over the course of this craft. It’s okay- I managed to get all the pens in, glued where they’re a little loose and standing on end so the ink doesn’t run back into the feather.

Now our little Hogwart students are ready to take notes!

Wingardium Leviosa!

We had the Zombiegirl’s Harry Potter birthday party this Saturday, but before I go into that, I have to blog about everything leading up to this momentous occasion!

The Wands

You absolutely can not have a Harry Potter Party without wands! That’s where all the magic comes from! I gave MR the task of turning the wands on his lathe. He’ll carve them and I’ll stain and finish them. After turning one wand that took a half an hour and finding out we needed over 30 of them, he threw his hands up in the air and quit on me. I told him I’d do it, then- a few wands a night- and cheerfully took chisel in hand, donned my safety goggles and turned on the lathe. I put chisel to wood in an intricate pattern, sanded it down and shut off the machine. Big deal, I thought to myself. What’s he crying over- this was easy!
When the wand stopped spinning I saw that only one side was carved. WTF?

If the lathe is not placed EXACTLY in the center of this 3/8″ dowel, it wobbles and you can only catch one side with the chisel. Okay, let’s be more careful about placement, then. We went through the whole rigmarole piercing the end, crosscutting it and placing it in the lathe, only to find out I chiseled one side again! Two more sticks went the garbage route. At this rate, I’ll have one stick in 30 days.

Or buy MR a smaller lathe. I would have bought another one if I didn’t mind spending the extra $200. But I really wanted to keep the price down on this party, so I tearfully clomped up the stairs (hoping MR would feel sorry for me) to research how to make 30 plus wands in one month with little money.

Hallelujah, I found this on Instructables.com!

Okay, I was a little leery. Paper and glue? We’re having 30 10 and 11-year olds who will want to practice their spells on each other. MR was worried about giving them ANYTHING pointy less we find an eye on the end of someone’s wand. How in the world is paper and glue going to hold up to rigorous wand flicking?

I started rolling the paper as directed and after about 45 minutes, I had 35 wands rolled up tighter than a Cheech and Chong joint. Than a Geisha sushi roll. They were a little sticky from the glue you have to slather on the end to keep them tight, so I put them on a cooling rack to dry and went to bed.

The next night I checked and they were still tight! I had rolled some at different angles so they were wider on the ends, or tapered on both sides. I started each roll with the last of my pack wooden skewers so the roll started tightly. By the way? Buy a package of wooden skewers at the 99 cent store. They have a MULTITUDE of uses- in fact I went through 100 of them without skewering ANYTHING- which is what they are really for! For stability, I left the skewers in the wands, and clipped off the ends where they poked out. In the wider end wands I stuck more skewers, or paper scraps- any thing to fill it in and make it stiffer.

Then I brought out the hot glue gun. I love my hot glue gun. Remember these?

After filling in the ends of all the wands and squeezing glue down into them to make them more solid (solidier?) I started decorating. Spirals, snakes, swirls, drips (that look like blood) and circles. I finished 10 that night.

A few nights later, I finished all decorating all the wands. I was proud to say no two were alike! I took them all outside late that night and placed them all int eh spray booth MR made me. I gave them all a coat of black paint made for plastics because I didn’t want acrylic paint to start flaking off the hot glue. About 15 minutes later I turned them and gave the other side a coat. I gathered them up 15 minutes later when they were dry- they looked awesome even all black! The following day was Saturday-Zombiegirl had Kedals over so I put them to work giving them a coat of acrylic paint. We stuck mostly to browns, but we had some blues, greens, reds and yellows. We made a couple pink (for the girlie-girls) and let them dry.

Later that afternoon, Z-girl and I went over the ones that didn’t get a full coating, and started antiquing the ones that were okay. We painted on a watered-down black acrylic and really quickly wiped it off. Some of the color paint came off with it, because that paint was water-based too, but it was okay because there was a base coat of black underneath. They started looking really old and chipped where the paint came off. We managed to antique all of them that night the next day we touched up where necessary. I brushed on off-white highlights on some and gold on others. After awhile working with these things I just got giddy because I was so pleased with the outcome! I think they looked amazing- each one was unique- different color, different size, different design!

(I totally didn’t shower that day)
The finishing touches were a light spray of clear semigloss to seal the paint and an Ollivander’s tag stating what wood the wand was made of, how long it was and which magical ingredient was in the center- phoenix feather, Veela hair, dragon scale…you get the idea.

So for approximately 40 cents for the hot glue, nothing for the paper and paints and $6.78 for the clear spray, I made 32 wands! It took a little while and my dining room table hosted the wands for about a week, but that’s okay. Ollivander would have been proud.

Hermione, Can I Borrow Your Time-Turner, Please?

Holy Hedwig! I apologize, Blogosphere. I’ve been so busy eating, sleeping, shopping and planning Harry Potter shit I haven’t had time to do much else. My house is furry around the edges (where’s my Vacuum Bitch, aka MR?) and the laundry is piling up. If Zombiegirl hadn’t given up fast food for Lent (my good little Lutheran…) we’d be eating out every day this past week. I’m starting to cast spells on the people around me, and alas, they’re not working.
So to take you all down the road to the Harry Potter hell I’ve been in, let me tell you what I’ve been doing.

Zombiegirl’s birthday is coming up. She’s going to be 11. And I’ve told her this is the last big party I’m throwing her. From here on in, we’ll do the movie thing with a couple of friends, or a light sleepover, or a trip to the city with a BFF or two. Middle school is going to be hard enough with all the cattiness and the backstabbing. I’m not going to add to that mess with “who-invites-who-to-whose-birthday-party” crap. From here on in, birthday’s are on the down-low. We’re going to pick and choose whose parties she goes to based on who’s throwing it and where they’re held. If I deem them a waste of time due to the location or the child, she’s not attending. We’ll plan something else to do instead. I want her to be friendly with everyone, but some of the parties she’s invited to, well, the friendship seems superficial. I want her to have meaningful friendships, not ones based on presents. Or how many kids are invited to the “popular” girl’s party.

When I asked Z-girl what kind of party she wanted, she thought for 10 seconds and said “Harry Potter”. Yes, she was reading the book at the time.

Now, I thought last year’s party was the bomb. I didn’t think anything could top that. A photo scavenger hunt in the mall, then cookie decorating and candy selection at Dylan’s Candy Bar! That was probably the best party a kid could want. They all had a blast and went home with tons of sweets and a huge sugar high that day. What could I do to top that? If you know me, you know that I’m a crazed party planner. It’s what I used to do as a side job. Planning kids parties, then later planning adult parties. I hate going to an actual party- for me, it’s all about the details and the planning stage. Ask my older kids about their childhood parties. I threw them craft parties, Pocohantas parties, a Fashion Show, a zoo scavenger hunt, a star-filled Sweet Sixteen and a Disney Graduation Party. Different and unique. Without any help from the Web, either. I planned everything by myself and each and every one of them (except maybe the craft party…only one kid showed up…) was a huge success. I live for a party, at least to plan it. And dammit, I was determined this was going to be a good one.

I started researching Harry Potter parties on the Interwebs. And I was totally surprised at how much info there is out there. And how many geeks love Harry Potter enough to throw huge, intricate parties!

So I agreed (being a Harry Potter geek myself) and started planning.

Zombiegirl has 95% control over this party. Almost every idea has to be run past her first. I’m saving 5% of the control to surprise the kid- I want her to feel the Harry Potter magic as well.

I’m posting each piece of the party as a separate blog post labelled HPP. I’m also going to link my sources of inspiration because I couldn’t have even STARTED thinking about this without these talented people’s posts and websites.


Now that all the invites have been delivered, I can post how I created them.

I’m blessed with a person like Rob who can get me any type of paper I need. I’m also blessed with the freedom to do stuff at work without too many prying eyes. I took the parchment that Rob got me and typed up the invite in Word almost verbatim from “The Sorcerer’s Stone”. Since we’re having the party at St. Andrew’s, I included directions to the social hall, aka King’s Cross Station.

Since I only had 8.5″ x 11″ parchment to make the envelopes, I had to fold the invites to fit. A little manuevering in Word let me print the addresses before I cut and folded the sheets to fit around the invites.

Since these invites have to been delivered by “owl post” I wanted to put something in the post mark spot besides at stamp. And since I’m trying to make this as low-budget as possible, I didn’t want to go out and buy an owl stamp. So I researched rubber owl stamps on the Web and found a suitable picture. I looked around my office for a rubber eraser, which is pretty hard since I don’t actually draft plans anymore (I did finally find one in the back of my drafting table) and copied the owl onto the eraser. I spent the next hour cutting the eraser out to make the owl in relief. I rubbed a red sharpie marker over it and stamped the invite. I was so excited about the result I giggled all the way into Soulspeak and Ruddyna’s office to show them. They must think I’m a freak…

More carving of the eraser produced a backwards “Owl Post” so I had to redo it and then stamped it under the owl. “Owl Post” indeed!

These invites needed one more touch- the wax seal on the back. Again, I didn’t want to spend $8 on wax and an “H” seal at Michael’s, so back to Google. I found this very inventive website. Using my hot glue gun, a block of frozen mozzarella cheese, three buttons from Mom’s collection and some black spray paint I created the “wax” seal for the back.

We drove Zombiegirl around a few nights to deliver them. She was stealthy and quiet when sneaking up on the houses, dropping the invitations off and running away. She hand delivered them to her whole soccer team. Thirty-four invitations in total.

We are on our way. I need a Butterbear…