Archive for the ‘Backdrops and things…’ Category

Good evening fellow Potter fans!  In one of my very first posts, I showed you the beginnings of my wand making.  This was a technique I found on the wonderfully titled Instructables.com, which has a fabulous array of craft and working ideas that people post for others to share.  This particular Instructable shows how to make Harry potter style  wands from paper.

I made a few tonight, and decided to share them.  It’s a really simple and effective craft idea.  I cannot actually believe how awesome they have turned out!  Give it a go and I’m sure yours will be just as authentic looking.


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Sorting Hat   Hmm, difficult. VERY difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind, either. There’s talent, oh yes. And a thirst to prove yourself. But where to put you?
Harry  Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin.
Sorting Hat   Not Slytherin, eh? Are you sure? You could be great, you know. It’s all here in your head. And Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, there’s no doubt about that. No?
Harry    Please, please. Anything but Slytherin, anything but Slytherin.
Sorting Hat    Well if you’re sure, better be… GRYFFINDOR!

(Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, JK Rowling, 2001)


Now this is one of those projects that I could visualise completely in my head, I just had to make sure what I had in my imagination would transfer into a 3D result.

I wanted the hat to resemble as fully as possible the one from the movies.  Of course I am unable to add the magic that enables it to decide on which house a pupil will be in, but I could get as near as possible.

I started with a small material witches hat left over from Halloween.  The wire rim would add some strength to finished work.  I then cut a larger circle, with a hole in the middle.  I then removed the remaining material of the small witches hat.

I then cut two large triangles, one thicker than the other out of a fairly strong, but light material.  this I sewed together edge to edge to form a cone.  I then stapled the cone into the hole of the rim.

I needed to make sure the hat stood up of its own accord, so I soaked the purple material with PVA glue.  To get it to dry in an upright position, I attached a piece of thread to its point and then tied the other end of the thread to the lampshade and tied it there.  I left it overnight.

The next day, I tore some more of the purple material into strips.  I soaked them with PVA, so that I could gradually wrap the hat shape with overlapping layers, to give it the old, worn texture.  I made sure that there were folds near the bottom that resembled eyes and a mouth.  I also pasted the outside, so that a complete layer of PVA glue would add extra sturdiness and thickness.

To ensure that the hat stayed in its upright position again, I stuffed it quite loosely with newspaper and let it dry over night again.

After it had dried, I started to paint it.  I used a mixture of burnt umber acrylic and yellow ochre, making sure the coverage was uneven, so that it gave the appearance of aging leather.  After that layer had dried, I mixed black with burnt umber to eventuate the darker shadows, especially the eyes and mouth.

As you can see, it looks vaguely like the sorting hat we all know and love.  For the party, who knows…it might pick the right house, for the right wizard!! =)

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Well if you are a die-hard fan, like me, then you’ll remember that the Weasley family had a lucky win on the lottery, which resulted in them having a holiday in Egypt.  Bill Weasley worked there as a code breaker for a while.

Apart from being obsessed with Harry and all that surrounds him, I am also a member of Three Towns Theatre Company where I help out with various set painting as well as joining in with productions on stage.  Recently a friend asked me to help with a backdrop for a project she is doing in a primary school.  One of my favourite musicals, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour dreamcoat.

I was given a black double sheet and asked to paint an egyptian head-dress with an archway for the children to walk through.  I thought I’d share it with you.

I stretched the sheet out onto my kitchen floor, taking care to cover the tiles with paper, so the paint I decided to use wouldn’t seep through.  (I chose acrylic paint.  In a light peacock-blue, gold and copper.  For the base of the headdress I used royal blue, lemon yellow and bright red.)

After drawing the design out in chalk I started to paint the blue in.  the paint was soaked into the sheet quite quickly and so I could tell that I was probably going to need a couple of layers of it.  It was going to stick to the paper and be a pain when it dried, however I began to realise that trying to peel the sheet up now would be a nightmare, so I carried on regardless.  In hindsight, I should have used fabric paint perhaps.

As you can see in the picture below, I started to add the copper and the gold paint.  I actually started painting this at around 12:30pm and by this point it was around 3pm.  I can tell you, that painting on a tiled floor for such a long time really started to be painful, so I brought in the little table to sit on and to lean across to take some of my weight.  I advise anyone use a knee pad, or some way of painting upright for a similar project.  When I completely finished it at 6pm, my knees hurt, but today, two days later, every single muscle in my body aches…I may as well have done a full thigh and toning exercise session all day.  On the other hand, I would rather paint for 6 hours straight any day over actually doing structured exercises!! =)

So eventually I managed to fill in the rest of the colours, using the copper to outline the inside of the headdress and the three primary colours to add a bit of extra interest and balance to the piece.

Here is the finished backdrop.  I’ll get a picture of it in place when the show goes ahead, so you can see it in context.

I’m pleased with the result, however, I would definitely change the way I went about painting the project, due to the pain involved!  I’ll hang it on a wall next time so save my calves and thighs…also I’m going to give fabric paint ago.  I managed to use a whole tube of acrylic copper paint (75ml) so I’m wondering if fabric paint would be more efficient when painting on this kind of material.

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Hi there! Just thought I’d post pictures of all four of the house banners.  I will be sewing the backing panels onto them next week and showing you how to make them into wall hangings, so keep watch… I think Hufflepuff is my favourite!!! Let me know what yours is…

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So now I’m going to take you through the reverse applique technique im using to make the house banners.  It’s quite a complicated step by step to blog, so please bear with me.  I am going to show two or three pictures at a time, then describe the process shown in each.  Please feel free to comment or message me to ask for more detailed instructions.

I first cut out a template from stiff card.  This I used to cut backing pieces of material from some old pillows.  One piece for each wall hanging.

I made sure I left a larger border around the top, so that eventually this section could be used to insert a piece of doweling.

Each wall hanging is made up of two or more colours, in fact, only the Hufflepuff design has three.  I cut a piece of each colour to the same size as my template, also leaving a larger border at the top.

In the middle of each piece of main coloured fabric or in Hufflepuffs case, the first two layers  (Gryffindor – red, Slytherin – green, Hufflepuff – black and silver and Ravenclaw – Blue) iron a layer of vilene, which is used to strengthen the material as I plan to use a very tight zig zag stitch and this will help it not to fray, or tear.  (!!!! Make sure you iron it shiny side down as this is the glue side)

I then placed the material into its correct order.  The pillowcase layer is added strength.

Then I tacked all of the layers together in several directions to hold them firmly together ready for machine stitching.Then I drew on my designs with tailor’s chalk, so that I could see them clearly.

Using the smallest zig zag stitch on my sewing machine, I followed the lines I had drawn out with the tailors chalk.

Next stage was to trim all cotton ends and remove the tacking stitches.

I then cut away all of the sections of the top layer to reveal the colour underneath.  This can be done with very fine scissors, cutting as close to the stitches as possible without cutting them.

I will add another post to show you the finished wall hangings in the next few days! =)

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Of all the defining features that help a Hogwarts student to build their school identity, the houses play an important role in a young wizard’s life.  From the moment the sorting hat is placed upon their head in the first year, until they leave the school, each student works towards a higher goal, striving to cover the great hall with their house colours at the end of term.

At my party I aim to use a banner from each of the houses to decorate my ‘Great hall’ (the dining room!)

Using ideas I found on the internet, I have drawn out basic colour designs for each house, using water-colour pencils.  I used images of each house’s animal and used a basic pattern in a badge format.  I have left some white spaces, which will be filled with gold or silver in the final product.  I have decided to make the wall hangings with a technique called reverse applique, which I will explain step by step when I make them.

These are just the sketches, so please imagine the banners to be bold and in full colour glory when finished!

I started them all with this basic outline of a wall hanging…

“You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart

So as you can see, I based my idea around the Lion, scarlet and gold, which signify the Gryffindors.  (please excuse the rather fluorescent pink…I did these at my boyfriend’s house and didn’t bring a red water-colour pencil…)

“Or perhaps in Slytherin,
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means,
To achieve their ends.”


And next, the Snakes,Slytherin, to which the infamous Tom Riddle belonged to in his Hogwarts years!

The strangely named Hufflepuff, symbolised by a badger…

You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil

And last but not least, clever old Ravenclaws… i tend to think this is the last house the sorting house would ever put me into…perhaps theres a separate house for creative types!

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind.


I lined them all up together to show the full spread.  I’m really excited about how these might turn out! =)


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‘…and there was a single golden framed painting on the wall.  It featured a blonde mermaid, who was fast asleep on a rock, her long hair fluttering over her face every time she snored.’  (Harry Potter and the goblet of fire – JK Rowling 2000)

Although in the book, the mermaid found in the prefect bathroom is a painting, I decided to use the idea in the film and make my mermaid into a stained glass window.  For one, there isn’t much wall space in my bathroom and so covering the window would be sensible, secondly, I think it will be very effective, especially whilst it is still light outside.

I started with a sketch this time, because this is much more of a complicated undertaking than a regular painting.  If I do not plan it, then I risk wasting expensive materials.  I have taken pictures, step by step.  When I have finished the final piece, I will make a black and white line drawing available to download, so you could use it as a colouring page, or as a template for your own project.

As you can see, I’ve set the pictures out in a stage by stage spread, showing from the initial pencil drawing, black  outlines (which I did in Biro) and colouring pencil.  The thicker black outlines are watercolour pencils.

I plan to use a clear perspex sheet and glass paint to make the work.  I’m really hoping it will be the masterpiece I imagine in my mind.

Once I make a start on the actual window I will put step by step instructions on the blog.

Hope you like! =)

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