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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!

 

Filtering by Tag: crafts

Care of Magical Creatures - Part 3

Michael MacWolff

It occurred to me, as I spent nearly 20 minutes poring over my blog posts to find some specific creature photos, that I missed a few in my first two lessons. So I thought to myself, why not have a third? After all, I never did show off what are arguably my most impressive creatures (though the Swooping Evil is pretty awe-inspiring), as well as all of my creatures that are not explicitly from Harry Potter canon. If you missed the first two, you can find them here: Lesson 1, Lesson 2.

So, on to my final magizoology lesson (at least until I make more critters).

Phoenix

The phoenix might be the most iconic creature in the  Harry Potter  series, second perhaps only to dragons. We come to know and love Fawkes, Dumbledore's phoenix, through the books, and he comes to Harry's rescue on a number of different occasions.

The phoenix might be the most iconic creature in the Harry Potter series, second perhaps only to dragons. We come to know and love Fawkes, Dumbledore's phoenix, through the books, and he comes to Harry's rescue on a number of different occasions.

The phoenix is a large and highly intelligent magical bird. These creatures can be fiercely loyal to witches or wizards with whom they have a strong connection. Phoenixes have a number of magical properties, the most notable of which is their periodic rebirth by way of self-combustion. The phoenix ignites and a new body is born from the ashes. The creature retains all of its memories, however, and as such can live for a very long time. It is unknown how many times a phoenix can be reborn. In addition, phoenixes can carry immensely heavy burdens with ease, they have apparition powers, allowing them to disappear and reappear at will, their tears have very potent healing properties, and their song also has mysterious magical properties.

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My phoenix was created from a lawn flamingo. I started by painting the flamingo red. The feet are made from heavy gauge wire, wrapped with a thinner copper wire to give them better texture. The legs are threaded through holes in the bottom of the plastic flamingo. The tails are stiff red felt with metallic gold painted around the edges. They are all hot glued together to form the three individual tails. For the bright orange underbelly I pulled apart a stuffed animal and glued the fur to his underside. The red fuzzy feathers are marabou feathers I glued to the flamingo's body. For the wings, I used more heavy gauge wire threaded through holes in the sides of the flamingo, and then hot glued a small piece of red felt around the wire to form the base for each wing. The feathers are then attached to the wing base with more hot glue, which allows the wings to be folded. for the head, I used a combination of different types of feathers to make a crest on top. He's perched on a piece of branch from our back yard that I turned into a stand for him.


THUNDERBIRD

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The thunderbird is another large magical bird native to the western United States. These massive raptors can create storms simply by beating their six wings in tandem. These creatures require a very large, wide-open spaces for their habitats and claim territories several hundred square miles in area. Thunderbirds were hunted nearly to extinction and very few of them are living in the wild today. As such they are very closely protected by the magical law enforcement in their areas.

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My thunderbird is essentially a plush with a wired underskeleton. The face was made with sculpey and then painted. The base body I patterned out myself and sewed with a suedecloth fabric, which you can see on the tails. I then massacred several different stuffed animals to get the different shades of fur on his body. The wings were a part of the plush pattern, and parts of the wire skeleton extend into each wing to make them pose-able. Most of the pinion feathers on the largest pair of wings actually came from a pheasant tail I purchased from a taxidermist. A lot of the other feathers came from masks or other unusual sources, since I wanted them all to be natural colors.


RUNESPOOR

The runespoor was initially intended to be in the film  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  but the scene was deleted. You can see it on youtube  here .

The runespoor was initially intended to be in the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but the scene was deleted. You can see it on youtube here.

The runespoor is a three-headed snake native to Africa. It is highly venomous and can reach up to 7 ft. long. We have learned from parselmouths that each head serves a different function: the left is the planner, the middle is the dreamer, and the right is the critic. As such, the right head tends to clash with the other two often, and it is not uncommon to find wild runespoors with only two heads, if the planner and dreamer get fed up with the critic and decide to bite him off.

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My runespoor is simply a snake plush with a couple of extra heads. I modified the pattern I used to make my occamys and made it with tiger-striped fur, since runespoors are generally black and orange striped. There is a wire skeleton on the inside so he can be posed as I please.


ACROMANTULA

We all remember this terrifying thing from  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

We all remember this terrifying thing from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Acromantulas are gargantuan spiders native to southeast Asia. Their venom is highly toxic, but is also a very valuable potion ingredient. these spiders are highly intelligent and are capable of human speech when the get older. These are also social creatures, unlike most arachnids, and can form colonies of hundreds of their species.

I admittedly didn't make this one, I just bought it on Amazon.


PUFFSKEIN

You might recognize these guys' smaller breed, the pygmy puff, bred and sold by the Weasley Twins.

You might recognize these guys' smaller breed, the pygmy puff, bred and sold by the Weasley Twins.

The puffskein is a small, cushy, harmless creature that is a favorite pet for young witches and wizards. They are incredibly durable and don't care about being cuddled or tossed around.  The most unusual thing about the puffskein is their taste for bogies, and they tend to use their long, flexible tongues to clean out their owners' noses while they sleep.

This guy started out as some sort of plush I found at the thrift store... I think it might have been a duck. I cut him open, reorganized some stuff, and sewed it back together in a sphere. The tongue is fleece with wire in it so. it can be curled up.


AMPHISBAENA

From this point onward, we are out of the  Harry Potter  canon. The amphisbaena is a two-headed snake originating in Greek mythology.

From this point onward, we are out of the Harry Potter canon. The amphisbaena is a two-headed snake originating in Greek mythology.

The amphisbaena is a two-headed snake, thought to be related to the runespoor. However, unlike is other multi-headed cousin, the amphisbaena has a head on either end of its body, rather than all heads facing the same direction. As such, the heads do not function independently as the do with the runespoor, but rather work in tandem to accomplish the creature's goals. These snakes are also venomous, and the venom is an uncommonly-used potion ingredient. In addition, the skin has certain healing properties and is best harvested shortly after it is shed.

I made my amphisbaena just like i made my runespoor, I just modified the pattern a bit to accomodate the extra head.


PYGMY ARCWHALE

Flying whales show up in a lot of different fantasy settings, these are my own interpretation. Just add wings.

Flying whales show up in a lot of different fantasy settings, these are my own interpretation. Just add wings.

Standard arcwhales have been soaring the upper atmosphere for millenia. It is said that the first whale dreamed of being free of the sea, and rose from its waters, ascending to the heavens above. Arcwhales feed on dream energy from witches and wizards; they tend to function in a similar fashion to dreamcatchers, filtering out bad dreams and leaving the sleeping witch or wizard with only pleasant ones. As such, you can see their appeal, and that is how pygmy arcwhales came about: they were bred to be kept as pets, since the full-sized arcwhale would not be able to fit through your door.
In addition to feeding on dreams, arcwhales (pygmy or otherwise) generate cloud or mist around them when they fly. This helps obscure them from muggle vision, and can indicate a pod passing through a residential feeding zone when a heavy fog rolls through. 

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My whales are just plushies I found at the thrift store and added fleece wings to. I did use wire in the wings so they can be posed.

 

I hope you enjoyed the next installment of my Care of Magical Creatures lessons. I have plans for a lot more critters so hopefully some time down the line I'll have time to add to this continuing segment here at MDC.

Care of Magical Creatures - Part 2

Michael MacWolff

I couldn't come up with a clever name for the second installment of my magical creature lessons, but honestly, if you're here for my wit alone, I can't imagine this blog is very satisfying. Let's just get right down to those curious creatures you're all here to see!

Pixie

Pixies are incredibly mischievous creatures, delighting in all types of tricks and practical jokes. Their favorite is to seize unwary humans by the ears and hang them from the tops of tall trees and buildings. 
Harry Potter and his friends had to deal with a swarm of Cornish pixies in their second year when Professor Gilderoy Lockheart released a crate of them during a Defense Against the Dark Arts class.

My pixie is primarily made from Sculpey clay. The ears and arms, however, were made using a combination of liquid latex and blue acryllic paint, which was coated over layers of tissue and wire, and then cut into the desired shape. The antennae are small bits of wire, and the wings are loops of wire with translucent liquid sculpey baked into them.


Demiguise

The demiguise is a clever, gentle, graceful creature found in the Far East. These beasts can make themselves invisible when threatened, and have minor prophetic powers, allowing them to see breif glimpses of the most likely immediate future. As such, they are incredibly difficult to capture. They are, however, quite valuable as their silvery hair can be woven into invisibility cloaks. 

My demiguise is actually a large, fluffy teddy I found at the thrift store. I slit the back seam and unstuffed him a bit so he'd have a sleeker figure. This also allowed me to create a wire "skeleton" for him so I could pose him and he'd have the structure to sit upright without falling over. The bits I added were the tail, hands, feet, and face. The hands and feet are fabric, with chenille stems underneath so I could pose them. The tail was extra white furry fabric that I had leftover from my Ashnard cape. The face I made rimarily out of worbla, using large epoxy domes for the eyes, and painting the contours on the face. It's hot glued onto the head of the bear (whose nose I squished in when I was playing with the stuffing inside it), but in retrospect that wasn't the best idea as the hot glue made the edges wobbly as the worbla became soft.


Doxy

The doxy is another mischievous little humanoid creature, related to faeries and pixies. Known as the "biting fairy" for their sharp, venomous teeth and proclivity for sinking them into people's fingers, these creatures are best handled with care.
Harry Potter and much of the Weasley family dealt with a nasty infestation of doxies in the drawing room of 12 Grimmauld Place while they stayed there in summer weeks leading up to Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts.

My doxy is made primarily from black chenille stems, which works quite well as doxies are covered with thick black hairs all over their bodies. The wings are transparent plastic with fine point sharpie for the markings. The eyes, much like my bowtruckles, are small black spherical beads on wire.


Dragon

Dragons are some of the most well-known magical creatures, all scaled and reptilian in nature, and varying greatly in size and appearance depending on the particular breed. All of them are very aggressive and dangerous, and as such should only be approached by highly trained witches and wizards. Dragons have a wide variety of magical properties, also varying greatly depending on their breed, and many parts of them are used for a variety of wizarding goods, to include potion ingredients and wand cores.

My particular whelp is not based on any of the 10 existing breeds in the wizarding pantheon, but most closely resembles the Peruvian Vipertooth in shape and color. This is one of the few creatures I did not make myself, actually commissioning it from Claude Raymond Designs, who makes these little guys in a number of varieties, along with a myriad of other incredible creatures and magical artistry. You should definitely check out his wares because they're fantastic. This little one is even designed to sit on your shoulder hand has a base plate with a magnet so you can wear him around.


Horklump

The horklump is widely considered to be one of the least exciting magical creatures known to wizard-kind. They use their tentacles to burrow into the ground in search of earthworms to eat, but otherwise have no particularly interesting attributes nor uses.

My horklump is made from pink and off-white felt. I sewed the cap and body sections on my machine, and hand-stitched them together. There is a wire understructure in the bottom through the tentacels so that they;re posable, and the pink & off-white panels are hot-glued together, sandwiched around the wire. the little black hairs are thin black wire pieces, all connected underneath and simply stabbed through the top felt piece. The spots on the bottom of the tentacles are little dabs of black fabric puff paint.
I plan to make another one of these with a slightly more striking color of pink felt  & a somewhat more interesting shape for the cap. We'll see how the new pattern turns out.


Jobberknoll

The jobberknoll is a minuscule bird found in northern Europe and the Americas. These small creatures make no sounds at all during their life until the very end of it when, moments before their death, they regurgitate every sound they've ever heard backwards in rapid succession. The noise can be quite alarming for any who are unprepared to hear it.

MY jobberknoll is actually just a tiny blue bird I found in the floral section of Pat Catan's craft store. The only things I did to it were adding the brown mottling to the belly, and adding the yellow irises to the eyes.


Swooping Evil

The swooping evil is one of the most widely feared magical creatures known to wizard-kind, and consequently is one of the least understood as it has not bee studied at any length. Most witches and wizards are unnerved by its skeletal face and the knowledge that it will feed on people's brains, however these creatures are highly intelligent, and their venom is known to have the ability to erase bad memories when properly diluted.

This beast, which is my most recent, and arguably my most impressive to date, is primarily plush in nature, with a wire understructure such that it can keep its shape, and makes its wings fully posable. The head is a 3d printed wolf skull found on thingyverse here. I am fortunate enough to have a friend with a home 3d printer who made it for me. I used black acryllic paint to add some depth and texture to the face, and glued black marbles into the sockets for the exes. To hang, I sewed a small metal ring to a point on its back where it balanced so it can hang as though flying. While he can, essentially, curl into the cocoon-like ball we see in the movie, mine does not have the armor-looking plates, though I may try to find a way to produce something similar.

And that, my friends, is all! During the month of September I'll be taking a hiatus from cosplay commissions to continue preparing for my Harry Potter weekend and I will be creating even more magical creatures to share with you all. I hope to eventually make some sort of compendium with my creatures and get some nice shots of them with good lighting and backgrounds and all that, so I hope you'll enjoy seeing even more of my fantastic beasts!

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!