Friday, January 18, 2013

the cupboard under the stairs

Once upon a time, my bookseller friend James and I ran the tiniest book store in town. And as it happened, we managed to stay in business through the publication of not one but two Harry Potter books, number 6 and number 7.

I was a huge fan. I ran a bookstore, so of course, I was really excited to throw a midnight release party. And for Deathly Hallows, we managed to get everything lined up to make it happen.

I didn't run a blog then, so I wasn't as thorough in my photo-taking as I should have been. These gnomes, for example, were for the gnome toss, which was complete with a faux garden wall to toss them over (made of drywall compound stenciled in a stone pattern over a plywood base, and painted gray).

The gnomes themselves are made of muslin, drawn with sharpie and colored pencil, and filled with beans.

These paintings were part of another game. Before I knew about architectural prints, I made these paintings by enlarging vintage photos from a Dover copyright-free image collection, printing on regular printer paper, Mod Podge-ing on tag board, and painting over the surface before attaching them to aged thrift store frames. In some of my lousy photographs, you can make out the seam lines; were I to replicate the project today, I'd have architectural prints made rather than printing on 8.5x11 at home.

As a big ol' Harry Potter nerd, I painted these with specific characters in mind, and there were clues to their identities in the paintings and in the titles of the paintings (on plaques beneath). The game was to guess their identities. The person who guessed the most correctly won a prize.

Another activity was Arthur Weasley's Muggle Objects of Unknown Origin.

As Mr. Weasley worked in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, my idea was that he'd run across several (mundane) things he couldn't figure out, and had catalogued them as being special and unique. The party attendees were responsible for trying to figure out what the objects were by viewing them though a hole in the side of a dimly lit shadow box. The person to guess the most correctly won a prize.

Speaking of prizes, activities like the Gnome Toss and Spell Casting awarded prizes of Harry Potter glasses and spider rings; as I recall (and it's been five years, I think), Fred and George Weasley's Wizard Boxes (stuffed with things like Laffy Taffy, whoopee cushions and Abra-Ca-Bubble) were awarded to the winners of the painting and muggle objects contests.

We also had a photo booth. It was really just a section of the store set up to look Hogwarts-ish and a box of costumes and props, plus a photographer friend I'd bribed into helping by buying him a copy of the book (there were several friends I'd indentured this way, and bless them for being game).

I'd love to show you copies of some of the photos, but I didn't have anyone sign releases for that stuff, so I'm afraid you'll have to take my word as to the epic-ness of some of those shots. Cute kids, sure, and lots and lots of adults in witch hats and striped ties.

Isn't it funny, that with everything else I'd put together, the copyright I was worried about infringing upon was the name "Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans"?

To stay on budget, less-expensive bulk jelly beans filled out most of the bag, with an occasional ear wax or popcorn or grass flavored bean popped in for a little surprise.

Crowd shot, as prizes were being awarded.

The wand-making station included wand blanks (chopsticks), glitter, stickers, markers and paint, etc. There were some fancy looking wands walking around as the evening progressed.

They included a warning not to run with or jab a wand at anyone. I hope kids and parents took those warnings to heart. The last thing we need is an E. R. overrun with wand accident victims on Harry Potter night.

And finally, the last photos I have are from some wands I made up ahead of time, along with wand boxes I made from brown and black poster board and box labels designed in Illustrator.

We sold them at the party and later at craft shows for awhile.

So. The reason I'm posting this stuff now is that I have birthday parties on the brain. If you were planning a Harry Potter party, you could go ahead and borrow any of these ideas from me; heck, I still have a pile of wands I've been meaning to list on Etsy. If you're looking for party favors, send me and e-mail and I'll make a listing sooner rather than later.

Thanks so much for reading!

If you'd like more details on any of these projects, let me know. I might just write up a more detailed tutorial for you!

p.s. you can make these photos larger just by clicking on them, but you probably already knew that. you're clever like that.

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