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Here's where the magic happens. I'll be posting about all of my experiences and experiments (both failed and successful ones), introducing you to my costumes, sharing fun stories, linking tutorials and useful products, and who knows what else!

 

Care of Magical Creatures

Michael MacWolff

Welcome back, my darlings! If you remember my parting words from last time, I promised a magizoology lesson with all of the critters I've been making for my Harry Potter weekend this October, and I intend to honor that promise!

As a biologist by schooling, a nerd by nature, and a crafter by profession, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I would be entranced by the many wonderful creatures inhabiting the world of Harry Potter. I, like many of you, grew up with the books though my journey didn't quite align with Harry's Hogwarts years. I remember reading the first book in middle school, not too long after it was published. I vaguely remember enjoying it, but I wasn't much of a reader as a kid (and frankly, I'm still not much of a reader, as it tends to put me to sleep so it takes a very long time to successfully finish them). I did, however, enjoy the first couple of movies quite a bit, and by the time Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was coming out in theaters inn 2005, I had resolved to finish the books before seeing their film adaptations. From book 4 on, I was thoroughly invested in the series, along with a good deal of my friends (who make up the vast majority of attendees for my October event). We even had an awesome Harry Potter dinner at my college which I attended with them, and the school put on quite an awe-inspiring production. They had a woman in a pink dress with a frame around her accepting invitations at the entrance, there was a full cast of professors (all in spot-on costumes) for the head table, and the dining hall, while already having some of the ambiance of an old castle, was decorated with house banners and all matter of wizarding accouterments. Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying that the world of Harry Potter is one that's very close to my heart, and that the more recent introduction of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a welcome addition to the canon, particularly given my fascination for unusual animals. There is no doubt this loyal Hufflepuff would have followed in Newt Scamander (as well as Rubeus Hagrid's) footsteps and been an advocate for the many fascinating magical creatures of the world.

Bu that's enough about me and my journey, let's get on with it, shall we? Let me introduce you to a few of my friends!

Here's a photo from Kent Potterfest of my magizoologist outfit and collection of creatures. I have enough at this point that I can't physically carry all of them at the same time XD

Here's a photo from Kent Potterfest of my magizoologist outfit and collection of creatures. I have enough at this point that I can't physically carry all of them at the same time XD

Bowtruckle

One of the fan favorites from the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the bowtruckle was one of the first magical creatures I figured out how to produce, and one of the ones I can make expeditiously enough to sell.

One of the fan favorites from the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the bowtruckle was one of the first magical creatures I figured out how to produce, and one of the ones I can make expeditiously enough to sell.

Bowtruckles are small creatures which inhabit trees of wand-quality wood. They are very well camouflaged and difficult to spot while hiding in their trees. Despite being rather shy, they are quite protective of their home trees and will use their long, sharp fingers to attempt to gouge the eyes of anyone who attempts to damage their tree. For a wizard to gather wand wood from a bowtruckle's tree, the best method is to bring an offering of wood lice, which will placate the bowtruckle long enough to harvest the wood.

Harry and his classmates studied bowtruckles with Professor Grubbly-Plank in their fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry receiving deep cuts on his fingers from squeezing his a little too hard.

As you can likely tell from their appearance, my bowtruckles are made primarily from chenille stems (pipe cleaners), with leaves from fake flowers,  some thin wire, and small black spherical beads for the eyes. I've made a whole family of them which live in a fake tree I found at the thrift store.


Niffler

The niffler arguably stole the show in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He's cute, a mischievous, and is constantly getting himself into comical trouble.

The niffler arguably stole the show in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He's cute, a mischievous, and is constantly getting himself into comical trouble.

Nifflers are long-snouted, burrowing creatures with a great fondness for anything shiny. Goblins often keep these creatures to burrow for buried treasure. They are gentle creatures but can do a serious amount of damage to belongings and as such it is inadvisable to keep them as pets.

Harry and his classmates studied nifflers in their fourth year at Hogwarts under Professor Hagrid. Hagrid buried a bunch of leprechaun gold and the students had their nifflers hunt for it.

My niffler was crafted from a black dog stuffed animal, which I pulled apart and used an approximation of this pattern to create his body, hand-stitching the pouch to his belly. I made his hands and feet out of tan chenille stems and stitched them onto his arms and legs. His face is Sculpey clay, which I then painted, sealed, and attached with an abundance of hot glue. His nest is a weird string-egg thing I found t the thrift store and painted gold. My steadily growing collection of weird old jewelry I've picked up at thrift stores and garage sales over the years finally got some use as well, for his stash of shiny things!


Occamy

Occamys are feathery, winged serpents native to India and the Far East. These carnivorous creatures are known to eat anything from rats to monkeys, but some seem to have a particular fondness for insects. These creatures can swell or shrink in size to suit the container they occupy and as such can be quite problematic when in open spaces. They are also rather aggressive creatures,  being particularly defensive of their silver eggs.

My occamys have appeared in two different incarnations, the first, pictured above in the teapot, was made from worbla scraps that I heated, squished together, and sculpted into the serpentine creature. The wings are small metal charms which I glued onto the creature and painted. This version is not posable.

The second, and much larger Occamy I created is a plush version. I made the pattern myself (which took a lot of trial and error... mostly error), and eventually got something I was satisfied with. The beak is gold felt, the body is two different blue cotton prints (a darker, mottled blue with gold flecks for the top, and a lighter, crackle-textured print for the bottom), and the wings are two different tones of purple fleece. I made the eyes with small epoxy dome stickers over an eye pattern that I drew myself using colored markers. They are fully posable with heavy-gauge wire running the length of the serpentine body and through the wings.

I just have the one plush one at the moment, but now that I have a decent pattern, I plan to make more for sale!


Fwooper

Fwoopers are small, brightly-colored songbirds that come in a variety of vibrant hues. These birds' quills are widely used for fancy quills and they are prized pets, however its song will eventually drive its listeners mad, and as such are required to have a silencing charm on them.

I'm currently in possession of two fwoopers, one of which I created myself, and the other of which purchased at Oddmall from Turkey-Eyes Designs (the green one pictured here). I liked the way they made his little face and eyebrow feathers so much that I modeled my own after it. For mine (the pink one pictured above), I started with a small styrofoam egg, flipped upside-down (so the slightly larger part is facing up). I used feathers harvested from a two-toned pink feather boa and hot glues them onto the egg. The face is made from Sculpey clay and glued on as well. For the feet, I used medium-gauge wire to make the general shape, and then wrapped thin-gauge wire around to make it look more like a bird's foot. The perch I actually made myself as well, using a wooden plaque found at the thrift store for the base, a wooden dowel rod for the vertical peg, and a piece of a thick branch that fell out of a tree in my back yard.


Ashwinder

The ashwinder is created when a magical fire (that is to say, a fire which has had some sort of magical substance added to it) is left unattended for too long. These serpents only have a lifespan of an hour, however in that time they will slither out of the fire which spawned them and find a secluded place in which to lay their eggs. These eggs are incredibly hot and can cause fire to ignite within just a few minutes of being laid. They are, however, quite valuable if frozen and used in potions.

My ashwinder started out as an unusual ash tray souvenir thing from Las Vegas, which I found at a thrift store. Its some sort of ceramic, so I carved out the center section with my dremel. I painted it, and used small plastic easter eggs for its brood. there are mood lights in them which make them glow.


Knarl

The knarl is one of the hardest magical creatures to recognize, as it is visually indistinguishable from the common hedgehog. The only way to tell the two apart is to offer them food. A hedgehog will accept and enjoy the gift, the knarl, however, will be offended at the gift, assuming the intention was to lure it into a trap, and will consequently wreak havoc trough the garden.

The knarl is one of the few creatures I did not really do anything special with, it's just a stuffed hedgehog I found at the thrift store.


Golden Snidget

Those of you familiar with the popular wizarding sport of quidditch may find the name and appearance of the golden snidget to resemble one of the balls used in the game. This is not coincidence as in the early days of quidditch, this small, golden bird was used for the same role as its modern counterpart. Snidgets are small, lightweight, and very adept fliers, due to their completely rotational wings which allow them a great deal of control in the air. They can hover in place, fly backwards, forwards, or any other direction, and can change direction mid-flight in a fraction of a second.
As noted earlier, they were used in the game of quidditch in its early days, but as these birds are very fragile, they would often be crushed when caught by a seeker. These small, delicate birds became more and more rare, and finally wizards developed a contraption to serve their purpose. It is now illegal to capture snitches, due to their protected status.

To create my snidget, I crocheted his round body using gold eyelash yarn and worsted-weight yarn at the same time, to give it the fizzy texture, but also have it be substantial enough to look solid. I used a pretty simple crochet pattern for a ball, and then stuffed it. The wings are just a collection of gold feathers glued together with a wire on the end to keep them firmly attached to his body. The eyes are small, half-round doll eyes that I found at the craft store. The beak is sculpey clay, and is also held in place by a wire. The little feet are made from orange chenille stems.


I have a good deal more critters to share with all of you, but I think 7 is enough for now.
f you enjoyed today's post, stay tuned for a second Care of Magical Creatures lesson next week!