This project accompanied several others for our Harry Potter themed Halloween party.


The Pensieve is a magic device which plays a significant role in the Harry Patter series. It allows one to revisit captured memories - either of their own, or from someone else. Various key plot points are revealed through the pensieve as Harry experiences the memories of several other characters. Through the Harry Potter movies, Dumbledore's pensieve takes on a couple difference appearances, but I wanted to stick close to the book description of an ornate stone basin - this agrees with the film version in "The Goblet of Fire", and is also the style it's portrayed in at Universal's Wizarding World theme park.


I wanted a way to view photos from our past Halloween parties in a large bowl of water. Actually submerging photographs wasn't nearly cool enough, so I decided I'd place an LCD display below the bowl and run a gallery of photos in slide show mode. I tried all kinds of orientations and even considered using mirrors, but using a laptop wouldn't let me achieve the pensieve/cabinet shape i was after. So I decided on using a separate LCD monitor inside the prop and an external laptop to run the slideshow.

Step 1: Materials

Here's a rough list of materials I used to build the Pensieve:
  • A 19" LCD monitor (4:3 ratio)
  • A laptop to drive the monitor
  • A large clear bowl
  • An ultrasonic water mister
  • A couple 2x4" boards
  • approx 4 sq feet of thin plywood
  • approx one sheet of 1/2" foam insulation
  • liquid nails and some screws
  • 3 mirror panels (30" x 8")
  • various bits of wood trim
  • paint (white and gold)
The first important step was finding the right bowl. Luckily I just happened to already have something that was perfect. It was clear, about a foot in diameter, and (very important) had a small lip around the top. Even the design around the sides was a simple pattern of ridges that would give a nice distortion effect to the edges of the photos. Then it was a matter of pairing the bowl with a good sized LCD. Again, I was lucky to have an old 19" non-widescreen LCD which matched up nicely.
<p>what song was that in the video?</p>
<p>Nice work on this one. I am planning to make one and was wondering about your mister. The range on prices was pretty intense. It looked like a simple one I found on amazon would work. How much did you pay for one?</p>
I used a very basic one like this, but without the plastic diffusor/splash shield they come with: http://www.spirithalloween.com/product/mist-maker1/<br>Happy building!
bloody hell this is brilliant
wow harry potter fans rejoice must be a hit how do you store this
Actually, it just found a new home in the collection of a huge Potter fan
oh cool
Best Pensive Ever!
pure over the top awesome
Pure win!
This is really amazing.

About This Instructable


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Bio: Web developer by day. Gamer by night. Halloween fanatic and DIYer, all the time! My projects tend to combine pop culture, technology, and craftsmanship to ... More »
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