A Literary Halloween

We currently live in a subdivision which is big on Halloween. Many houses sport decorations, some elaborate, and there was even a haunted house, just around the corner, with the entrance fee of a canned good for the local food pantry. Luckily, Halloween also happens to be one of my favorite holidays.

Since our house is known as the castle house by the neighbors, both kids and adults, it made sense to use that to our advantage. It was a no-brainier for me to decorate in the spirit of one of my favorite book (and movie) series, Harry Potter. Some of the pictures are taken with flash, some without. The lighting was dark and moody – it looked great to the naked eye and cast just the right atmosphere, however it’s not so good for the camera.

 

Did you get your Hogwarts letter?

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If not, don’t worry. All are welcome at Hogwarts tonight.

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Welcome to Hogwarts!

 

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First the trick-or-treaters get to walk by Aragog.

 

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And Hagrid’s Pumpkin Patch.pumpkin

 

 

Sorry this video is dark. The spot light on the Dementor was bright enough to the naked eye, but the camera had a harder time picking it up.  Luckily Harry’s Patronus was strong and saved all the little ghosts and witches from the soul sucking Dementor! (MAKE SURE TO TURN YOUR SOUND UP FOR SOME AWESOME SOUND EFFECTS!)

 

 

This is what the Dementor looked like in daylight.

 

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Visitors entered at Diagon Alley where they could browse many of the shops.

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Eeylops Owl Emporium had a selection of owls as well as owl treats!

 

 

 

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Ollivander’s Wand Shop

 

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With a selection of wands.

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Flourish & Blott’s Bookstore

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Where Harry and friends can buy their school books.

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Every student must stop at Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions!

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And of course, Quality Quidditch Supplies!

 

We also had the Hogsmeade shop, Honeydukes.

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Where you can find Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Fudge Flies, and Droobles Best Blowing Gum.

 

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Butter Beer!

 

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Fizzing Whizzbees, Cockroach Clusters, Blood Pops, Chocolate Frogs, Licorice Wands, and Pumpkin Juice are available.

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And you can’t forget Ton  Tongue  Toffee, Fairy Floss, Pepper Imps, and Dumbledore’s beloved Lemon Drops!

 

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Now we enter Hogwarts. Our first stop is the potions classroom, with none other than Snape brewing several potions.

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 Where he brews from Moste Potent Potions.

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With all kinds of creepy ingredients.

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Watch out for the Hand of Glory!

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A potion bubbles and spurts in the corner.

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The Great Hall is set for dinner.

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It wouldn’t be the Great Hall without floating candles!

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Anyone for a game of Wizard’s chess?

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What can you see in the crystal ball in Divination class?

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Herbology is Neville’s specialty.

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Watch out for the screaming mandrake!

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Can you turn a snail into a teapot?

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That’s the lesson being covered  in the Transfiguration classroom.

 

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In the Entrance Hall you can check out one of the portraits, check the counters to see which house is in the lead for the house cup, or take a look at the Goblet of Fire.

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See the smoke and blue flame?

Here are some of the how-to pictures.

I built the Dementor by pounding a metal fence post into my garden, then I wired a long piece of PVC to it. The flexibility of the PVC pipe made it so the Dementor swayed ominously in the wind.

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I shaped his torso, arms, and “tail” out of chick wire, with a styrofoam block for a head. I painted all of this black so the the shiny chicken wire wouldn’t show through the fabric.

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I made the Dementor’s hands out of wire, wrapped in regular masking tape. Then I spray painted them gray, and went over with a light coat of black, making sure not to cover the gray completely.

After attaching the hands, I just covered the Dementor in layers of black dyed cheesecloth and black sheer fabric I picked up cheap at a rummage sale. I made sure to tear all the edges and leave long tatters hanging down.

He was sufficiently scary. Every once and a while he would move in the wind and startle us, and freak out our dog.

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I didn’t want kids grabbing at all the props, so I took plastic cauldrons from the dollar store and filled them with a quick dry cement. Before it set, I put in a piece of PVC painted gray (It was cut to length at Menard’s, where I bought it. I added a “T” connector on the top to run rope through. Once the concrete was dry a gave it a base coat of green, then dry brushed a coat of glow-in-the-dark green paint. With the black lights in my garage, the glowing, lumpy concrete looked like a bubbling potion!

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My goblet of fire started with a plywood base on which I screwed a length of closet pole. From there I just cut a hole in each piece and slid it over the pole to secure. The top and bottom are made of pressed paper rose cones. The star shaped platform is just cut from foam core. Then I used things like soup cans, margarine containers, and an oatmeal container.

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After it was all assembled, I added a blue spot light inside, and hid the cord under the paper mache’ rocks. Some paint, and gel stain and we have a Goblet of Fire. I used “smoke” oil drops from a model railroad (available at any hobby store). I just squirted a few drops onto the hot spot light bulb and got the blue flame/smoke effect.

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Before it was Hogwarts, it was just a garage. The “stone” walls are from scene setters. Details like the gargoyles and lots of battery operated candles brought it all to life.

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I spent a few dollars on the hanging flame lights, stone walls, and life sized Snape, but almost everything else was either something I already had, or fashioned out of finds from thrift stores, rummage sales, and the dollar store. Even the old beat up student desk was only $2.00.

If you have any questions on how any of the props were made, just ask in comments. I’ll be happy to share.

A Moment for Magic

Despite the excitement of my first review for my novelette, Finding Hope, and my self-imposed pressure to get my novel done.  I’m going to take a moment for magic.

I’m talking about pausing for Potter.  Harry Potter. I’m one of those crazy Harry Potter fans. I can’t complain, it’s paid off in ways I could never have imagined.

J.K. Rowling’s books were one of the things that inspired me to write. Her books pulled me in to a world I couldn’t have imagined. Her speech to Harvard graduates convinced me that everything is worth trying. That you can only fail by failing to try at all.

All that aside, she has also turned me into a Potter geek, and I’m a proud one at that. So for the next nine days I will be consumed by every Harry Potter interview, trailer, magazine article, and promotional picture.  I will rewatch the previous seven movies and I will be one of the many lined up at midnight on opening night. I’ve never been to a midnight showing, I figure this is my last chance. I may even dress in costume, when in Rome…or in this case when at Hogwarts…

Eighteen hours later I will be in line again with my friends. I will make sure I have plenty of tissues. Yes, I will cry.  It’s inevitable. I cried while reading the last book and have no doubt I will at the last movie. I’m sure I have family and friends that question my sanity, but then again aren’t all good writer’s just a little bit off?

After my period of mourning, I will return to my novel in full force.  I’ve taken the last week of July off in hopes of putting all the final pieces together.  But for now I’m perfectly okay with taking a hiatus for Harry.