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Blog

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: harry potter

Hark the Herald Phoenixes Sing

Michael MacWolff

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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I enlisted the help of my magical critters to help decorate this year. Some were more helpful than others...

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My occamy was quite adept at hanging ornaments on the tree, but the niffler kept getting distracted by shiny things. I'm pretty sure a few of my ornaments have disappeared into his pouch.

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And my puffskein seems to have been mesmerized by the lights, I have no idea why he feels compelled to lick all of them but he is a bit of an oddball.

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From my magical family to yours, I hope the season bring much light, peace, comfort, and joy!

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.

You're a Wizard, Mikey!

Michael MacWolff

At last, my Harry Potter weekend has come and gone. It was tons of fun and we're all so tired. But anyway, here's how the weekend went.

Friday
Friday night was arrival for most folks, and the highest attendance. I set up a scavenger hunt around the house for people to explore all of the fun rooms and test everyone's knowledge of HP lore (but only a little).  My favorite clue read as follows: "You can see all your heart’s desires in this magical object. But don’t be fooled, for the things it shows are neither real, nor true. Resist its allure if you can, as you’ll have to gaze into it to find your next clue."

You probably guessed that this one is related to the Mirror of Erised, and you would be correct. The best part, however, was that the clue hidden there could only be read through the mirror, as it was printed backwards.

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Sadly, I messed up a little bit because rather than the clues leading directly to the final location, each clue had a piece of a cipher which would eventually have to be unscrambled to figure out the treasure's final hiding place. Unfortunately, I forgot a letter so that tripped a few teams up. Regardless one team successfully found the treasure chest full of Honeydukes candy OM NOM NOM

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Once snacks were procured for the weekend, we had a little welcome bonfire (which took several Incendio spells to conjure since it rained Friday morning so all of the wood was wet. However, with fire being conjured, we also had a very special performance by one of our talented witches, doing a native Albanian dragon mesmerization ritual. Needless to say, it was quite effective on us, dragon or not.

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Friday also marked our first brewing of potions and they were moste potente. It certainly made for a fun evening.

Saturday
Saturday morning started with a delicious breakfast prepared by one of our favorite Hufflepuff chefs, followed by a morning wandmaking workshop. People made some awesome wands for use throughout the weekend.

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Our newly crafted wands did take some time to dry so we took our opportunity to visit a local park for a short game of quidditch and a picnic lunch.

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Fun continued back at the Hogwarts sattelite campus with a magizoology lesson and a series of logic puzzles to earn points for the house cup competition. Most of you learned about many of the fantastic beasts covered, but here's a little glimpse of our care of magical creatures area.

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Ok, yes, mandrakes are plants and not animals, but those lines can be kinda blurry when it comes to magical flora and fauna anyway.

As for the logic challenge, the centerpiece was pointedly Professor Snape's own creation, but involved several other riddles and puzzles for our witches and wizards to solve.

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While on the subject of Snape's potion riddle, I feel it appropriate to add that the other safeguards protecting the philosopher's stone were also employed, as we had a stone of our own to keep safe.

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Saturday evening was by far the fanciest feast we had all weekend, as our head house elf pulled out all of the stops for dinner. Shepherds pie, boiled potatoes, steak & kidney pie, and brussel sprouts were just the beginning of the culinary extravaganza he prepared.

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With all of the witches happy and full, we moved on to games including the much anticipated trivia game. Ravenclaw had the highest takeaway from the match and we moved on to the much less serious game of Cards Against Muggles. Yes, it's exactly what you're thinking and yes, it's just as absurd as you might expect. The House Cup was a pretty even split at this point.

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Sunday
As I'm sure you can imagine, Sunday was a bit of a lazy start, and many witches and wizards who traveled quite far to join us had portkeys to catch, but we did practice some patronus summoning, and we had a few extra special creatures join us for the morning. The first being a rather large bird of an unusual quality, and the second being a very sweet pupper with a few extra heads. They got along quite famously.

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With many happy memories from the weekend, casting patronuses was easy, and our resident boggart-turned-dementor made for good target practice.

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No, Kyle, it's supposed to be a happy memory...

No, Kyle, it's supposed to be a happy memory...

That's better.

That's better.

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And how appropriate that we ended with the happiest memories in our minds as everyone began their journeys home. It was certainly a magical weekend, and an event I hope to repeat in the future!