The most basic item of any Harry Potter costume is the telltale wand. Even if you decide not to dress as particular character or average student, or simple don’t have the required items to, having a wand in your hand allows you to claim that you are simply a witch or wizard in muggle clothes. After all, most wizards in the films aren’t depicted as wearing cloaks. They typically wear normal muggle clothes, though not always appropriately.
Of course, you could always go as a dementor instead.
While websites like Alivans do sell hand crafted wands and the official Harry Potter site offers replicas of those used by characters in the movie, it is possible to make a wand for less money and in less time than it would take for you to run to the store for butterbeer supplies.
The quickest, easiest method is to simply walk around your back yard or neighborhood park to find a suitable stick. It should be mostly straight, with no side branches (though you can snap those off), and shouldn’t be longer than your forearm. Something longer than that is just impractical and will be hard to put somewhere out of the way. You can peel the bark off if you wish, but that’s not necessary.
If you’re feeling a bit crafty, here are instructions for how to make quick, custom wands.
What You’ll Need:
- Chopsticks (just snag a few extras the next time you order Chinese, the sparse pine ones that you pull apart stain the best)
- Wood stain markers (you don’t need anything fancy, any furniture touch up/repair kit will do. Personally, I like this 6 piece set from Jobar. It’s got stains for six different types of woods, stains chopsticks nicely in one coat, dries fast, and you use them like markers)
- Clear nail polish (optional)
- Clean a space. This isn’t very messy, so you don’t have to worry about something along those lines. However, a few sheets of paper (news or otherwise) to color the chopsticks on and have them dry on is nice. Use two or three layers to prevent the stain from bleeding onto your counter or table.
- Prepare your chopsticks. If they come separated, just give them a once over for splinters. Those that you pry apart usually do have loose strings of wood fraying off, and not just where they used to be connected. You don’t have to get out the sandpaper, just rub the chopsticks together and you should be good. This step is to essentially ensure that the person waving the wand around won’t get splinters in their palm or fingers.
- Figure out what type of wand you want. The Jobar kit has six stain shades: maple, oak, cherry, walnut, mahogany and ebony. If you want, you can have the handle of your wand (the bottom inch or so) be made of a different wood. As such, you can make 36 different wands from the markers in this kit alone.
- Color. These markers work just like Crayola ones and thus are really easy to use. I’ve found they’re the easiest to stain if you hold the chopstick at an angle by its end and twist it while you use the marker, similar to how you would butter corn on the cob. Only color most of the chopstick, avoiding your fingers, especially if you want the handle to be a different wood stain or you’re painting more than one wand. It takes several washings to get pigment out of your fingers and you’ll run the risk of leaving ebony fingerprints on a maple wand. Place the chopstick down and let it dry for a few minutes, then pick up the stained end and continue coloring.
- Protect. While this step is optional, I like coating my wands in clear nail polish. It helps the color stay longer, reduces the potential for splinters in the future, and adds a nice shine.
Ta-dah! Your very own Harry Potter wand.
Want to spice up your wand a bit? Here’s a few suggestions.
- Add sparks. Wrap pipe cleaners around the tip to simulate them, though you might have to glue them on.
- Create a clay handle. Shape a grip with pottery clay or something similar (don’t use play-dough though, it cracks) and push the end of your stained chopstick into it. You can decorate the handle too. Give at a few days to dry, but then you’re good to go.
- Add charms. String a few beads or a pendent on a piece of string or wire, twist it around the nail of a flat thumbtack, and push the tack all the way into the bottom of the chopstick to secure them. If you need help, your local bead shop is the perfect place to go. You can also use a short friendship bracelet instead of beads.