Your very own light-up wand is a super easy and fun way to add some magic to your wizard costume, Harry Potter marathon or ordinary Tuesday night.
A fun project for any aspiring muggle, it uses only very simple electronics and parts for a fantastic final product.
Step 1: What You Need
For each wand, you will need:
1 x LED (colour of your choice, I used red and blue)
1 x Coin cell battery (3V)
1 x straw
A soldering iron
Wire (preferably solid-core)
Paint (brown and black)
Strip of material (I used leather, but anything will do)
Step 2: Electronics
This is how we get our wands to glow.
First, cut 2 pieces of wire just a bit longer than the length of your straws. Using a pair of wire cutters, strip both ends of each wire, leaving about 1 cm of wire exposed. (It doesn't matter what colour the wires are, but red and black are useful to remind you which is positive and which is negative.)
Next we are going to solder these to the LED. In the picture I am using a pair of helping hands (the crocodile clip things) to hold everything in place so I can focus on the soldering, but if you don't have a pair handy (pun intended), you can either get a friend to help or get creative. ***WARNING*** Soldering irons are hot. Be creative carefully.
The longer leg of the LED is the positive side and the shorter leg is negative, this is important as the LED won't work if it's the wrong way around. We don't want these legs to touch inside the wand, so wrapping them up in electrical tape is a good idea (see pictures), or you can use heat-shrink wrap if you have it.
Post the wires down the straw until the LED is just poking out of the top. With the wires at the bottom, tape the negative wire (the black one if you're colour coding) to the negative side of the coin cell battery.
Now test it lights up by touching the positive wire (the red one) to the positive side of the battery. If it doesn't, try squeezing the taped down wire to make sure it's got a good connection, or double check your soldering.
Hopefully we have a working LED-on-a-straw now, so lets get on to decoration.
Step 3: Paper Mache
In order to hold the battery in place and to give our wand some strength, we're going to cover it in paper mache.
Take 2 parts PVA glue and 1 part water, mix it all together and use it to paste strips of newspaper all along the straw.
Cover the back of the coin cell battery and partway across the front, making sure to leave a gap still showing battery. The newspaper suspended between the straw and the battery will be a little weak, so this may take a little fiddling and patience. It doesn't matter if it's a bit frail at this stage, as this is the first layer.
Once it's dry, you can apply another layer. It should now be much easier to shape the battery-end of the wand as there is now something to paste onto.
I found 2 layers was enough, but adding more will only make it stronger, so go nuts. Make sure to leave part of the battery exposed so that the positive wire can still touch it.
Next, it's time to paint it. I started with a layer of black paint all over, then a light layer of brown so that the black only showed through in the cracks and folds of the wand.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
To cover up the exposed wiring, I used strips of leather cut from an old bag, but any strip of material will do. Make sure the positive wire is close to the surface of the battery (it may take some trial and error to get the positioning right), and glue the strips around the end neatly.
Once it has dried, give it a squeeze and hopefully you will see your beautiful wand light up.
Step 5: Presentation
I ended up making 4 magical wands for my friends, and to give the wand-giving ceremony a bit more sparkle, I also made a wand box.
It is a cardboard box with a paper mache covering and plenty of paint and stick-on jewels, made all the more luxurious with some red felt in the bottom.