Picture of Wizard's staff from a giant cabbage
This Halloween, I turned a giant cabbage, an LED flashlight and a Christmas ornament into a gnarled wizard's staff that shines with an eerie moonish glow. My kids are going trick-or-treating as Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger (and Commander Rex, clone trooper, but that`s another story), so I made some of KaptinScarlet's brilliant magic wands for them. While doing so, I was inspired to make this much larger version.
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Step 1: Materials and tools

Picture of Materials and tools
6' long dried cabbage stem
Clear plastic spherical Christmas ornament
Upholstery stuffing
LED flashlight or similar (I used this little 9 LED one from DealExtreme)
Wire, solder, paint, polyurethane, strip of cloth/leather

Sharp knife
Drill with a variety of bits
Soldering iron
Hot glue gun

Step 2: 6' #%&*! cabbage stem?!!

Picture of 6' #%&*! cabbage stem?!!
Er, yes. The staff is made from the dried stem of a walking stick cabbage. They take about a year to grow to 8 ft long. They are one crazy vegetable, and I recommend growing some just for the hell of it (I bought mine here). Let it go to seed, and they'll produce many thousands of viable seeds - they`ll grow in your lawn, under the deck, in cracks in the pavement. The stems dry hard, super light and amazingly strong. Just trim off the roots and leaves and dry in your airing cupboard for, oh, six months or so...

Step 3: Protect the end

Picture of Protect the end
I used the base of the cabbage stem as the top of my staff. The other end was not woody all the way through - instead, it has a fibrous center (see pictures). I protected it by making a shoe out of sugru, the hackers silicone of choice. It cures firm and grippy and sticks to just about anything. I wanted it to look organic, like it had been dipped in tar or something, so I smeared the sugru up the sides and left it to cure for a day.
Macready2 months ago

I've never heard of a walking stick cabbage (appropriate name)! Thanks for showing me something new. Great tutorial - the staff looks fantastic!

makendo (author)  Macready2 months ago

Thanks. Yeah, they're a pretty amazing vegetable.

daltonjcw2 years ago
What is the mask that is not quite a Guy Fawkes mask?
makendo (author)  daltonjcw2 years ago
I think it's just a dollar store vampire mask.
eschneck4 years ago
*Excellent* touch with the excess hot glue "fingers" holding the orb. All in all a very nice and simple setup - thanks for sharing!
makendo (author)  eschneck4 years ago
Hey, thanks. A word of warning about the hot glue fingers though - initially I had the gun on the "hot" setting and the ornament started to melt!
Kozz4 years ago
Nicely done. I've also never seen a cabbage of that kind. I can imagine if I were a more talented electronics guy, it'd be cool to put an LED directly in the center of the sphere, and wire in a reed-switch that would only activate with one of those magnetic magician's rings.
mcshawnboy Kozz4 years ago
A Pagan magazine called "Green Egg" of Ukiah,CA ( use to have a column "Techno-Pagan" an issue I recall had an LED cluster RTV'd to terminated quartz crystal powered by a smoke detector battery & the switch was akin to what you mentioned. Insulated clear magnet wire was decoratively embedded into walking stick parallel to each other w/ the circuit completed by holding a ring to a spot where the insulation was removed. I couldn't find my copy or locate the it in their back issues.
or you could wire up an infrared circuit so that when an object gets closer, the light gets brighter… then have it dim or flicker when you wave your hand mysteriously around the orb.
makendo (author)  thinkdunson4 years ago
Both good ideas. You should execute them, for sure.
Questor4 years ago
I'm wondering if the spun glass we use around the holidays, "angle hair" I think,
would glow any different.
makendo (author)  Questor4 years ago
Probably similar, but you could test it out by getting a bunch and shining a flashlight into it. If it is actually glass, it should work well and and maybe look sparkly rather than cloudy.
Great Instructable! Ever thought of using El wire? I imagine the battery pack is about the same and would allow you to add all types of light twisting up around your staff. Although your first work is absolutely superb! No chance of bettering it, just changing!
makendo (author)  kallithdragonna4 years ago
Thanks! No, I haven't even seen EL wire (except on instructables), but agreed, it would look great.
karlpinturr4 years ago
Serendipitous, or what? On Tuesday (26th), I was searching for - and ordered - Jersey Walking-stick cabbage SEEDS!!! And then, today (28th), I get the Instructables newsletter with the link to this...

As the name implies, they are mainly associated with the island of Jersey, and were used to make walking-sticks - which is the main reason I was looking for them.

But I'd forgotten that about 20 years ago, I did a few, more intricate, designs for Wizard, Elf, Goblin etc. staffs that I thought about using these plants for.

So, thank you, makendo, for re-igniting something...

Now, I wonder how a colour-changing LED would look..?
makendo (author)  karlpinturr4 years ago
Enjoy - they're great fun to grow. Some tips:
Remove the lower leaves regularly to make them grow taller.
If you want a straight stick, stake them. They stand up fine without staking, but they'll be bent.
ALL of the seeds seem to grow, so space out the planting. If they're packed together, they grow long and skinny.
Don't treat them too well, or they'll grow too thick. The one I'm holding in Step 2 is more of a giant club than a staff...
I'm sure the colour-changing LED would look great.
Thanks for that - I hadn't realised removing the leaves would actually do anything, or that they need staking to grow straight (though I should have guessed that bit).

I did see somewhere that if you plant them at an angle (when planting-out or thinning), they'll end up with a bit of an angle at the base, which is useful for my Goblin Staff, at least.

But I've really gone to town on the combining of Instructables since reading yours, and I've seen the Plasma-Ball staff - AND EL Wire...

I'm thinking of combining your Staff and 'switch' to light the EL Wire and then the Plasma Ball - not that I have ANY of the bits just yet (or know how to build in enough of a delay to make the power appear to travel up the staff...

And I have no idea where the colour-changing LED could come in -

Then again, small Plasma-Balls seem nigh on impossible to get hold of at anything like a reasonable price, so,maybe... lots of LED's (only some colour-changing), plus some hidden buttons which, pressed in various sequences, would give different effects (about 30 would be possible, in total, I think - from a single button being pressed, through every combination, to all five)...

Agh! I'm imagining way beyond my capabilities - to say nothing of finances (nothing new there!)... But I've got something like a minimum of 18 months before they'd be ready to work on, so, maybe I can learn what I need to know by then.
Lensman014 years ago
Sooo, maybe should be planning Halloween 2012 then? 8 months to grow and 6 to dry lol

Great instructable though
makendo (author)  Lensman014 years ago
Yes... sorry. But let one go to seed and you'll have a lifetime supply!
And thanks.
Puzzledd4 years ago
Brilliant idea: so clever - really effective! :D
Kryptonite4 years ago
I love it! Best use for cabbage, ever. I love your job on the end as well, takes me back to my wizarding days.
caitlinsdad4 years ago
This looks interesting. You should hot glue on one of those small rubber animals like a slithering snake, lizard or big spider attracted to the light where it would cast a nice silhouette or shadow.
makendo (author)  caitlinsdad4 years ago
Great idea - I've added plastic bugs, and they look great (see last step). They don't cast a shadow as such, because the glow is too diffuse, but the effect makes the staff much creepier. Thanks!
It would make a better first shot for your instructable. Nice.
makendo (author)  caitlinsdad4 years ago
aramanthe4 years ago
This is pretty brilliant! I know what's growing in my garden next year... :D
Yeah, looks great. Reminds me of how when i was a kid me and my brothers would beat each other with the stems of old Giant sunflowers. What type of climate are you in?
makendo (author)  InquisitorBC4 years ago
Thanks. We're in the Pacific Northwest, so mild winters and dry summers. These cabbages survive the winter just fine.
Ah so you are in more central Washington/oregon?
makendo (author)  InquisitorBC4 years ago
Nope, southern Vancouver Island. I should have guessed from your username that you're familiar with the area.
Sorry my dear Canadian friend, I am american. I had chosen this name before i realized it would cause points of confusion. And I just have been to lazy to change it. This is cool though, If my dorm complex had a garden i would definitly look into buying some seeds. But sadly it does not.
l8nite4 years ago
This is just cool on so many levels
Greatest photo tag ever: "The room stunk of cabbage after cutting this hole. Try explaining that away to your family!"
Nicely done.
makendo (author)  hauntedworkshop4 years ago
Thanks. It was pure comedy at the time, too :)
Dr. Pepper4 years ago
super cool
Vladimyr4 years ago
Excellent project and very well done Instructable. I too am off to Google "walking stick cabbage" now. I've GOT to have one of those growing in my yard next year.
makendo (author)  Vladimyr4 years ago
You should grow one, for sure. Just claim you planted a regular cabbage and have no idea what happened.
This looks Great! I've never heard of the cabbage so I learned a bit too. Now off to Google to study up on it...
makendo (author)  RedneckEngineer4 years ago
Thanks! I bought the seeds from here, and there's some useful info there too. No Wikipedia entry - most unusual!