Introduction: Harry Potter Bookshelf Diorama

About: I'm a professional writer and an amateur sewist, builder, hot gluer, dremel user, crocheter, painter, paper crafter, and baker.

I woke up this morning with the strangest mission: to make a Harry Potter-themed bookshelf diorama. I had never done such a thing, much less thought about making one, in my entire life. But here I am, having watched three Harry Potter movies later, with one of my very own. I made the diorama of the exterior of Ollivander's Wand Shop in Diagon Alley out of cardboard and other recycled odds and ends I had around the house. I also used some fairy/twinkly lights, a couple of coats of paint, and some small steampunk bits I've had on hand for years. It turned out a lot better than I could have ever imagined.

Step 1: What You Need

I didn't have a plan when I started making this. But I knew I wanted to start with a box that was about the same height as my Harry Potter books. So with that in mind, I found a box. I also grabbed a couple of Pringles cans, a toilet paper roll, mod podge, acrylic paint, tape, and some hot glue. I also needed scissors, an X-acto knife, and paintbrushes.

Step 2: Open the Box

I opened one of the sides of the box so I could get to work. I left the flaps open because at the time I didn't know if I would need them or not. Turns out I did, so I'm glad I left them intact. At this point, I also painted the inside of the box with black acrylic paint.

Step 3: Make the Windows

Cut a toilet paper roll in half. Then cut six squares (window panes) out of each window very carefully using an X-acto knife or some scissors. I also used masking tape to secure the windows a bit more.

Step 4: Make a Door

Paint the windows with black acrylic paint. To make a door, first cut out a rectangle of cardboard. Then cut a rectangle out of that rectangle using an X-acto knife. Find some thin cardboard (like from a cereal box) and make a similar rectangle shape. Cut four window panes out in the top half using an X-acto knife. Hot glue the thin cardboard door to the thicker cardboard. Then hot glue the doors and the windows to the inside of the box.

Step 5: Paint Some Details

The sides and the bottom of inside the diorama box should be painted black. I painted the top a lighter gray, but black would have done fine too. Dip your index finger in a lighter gray paint and fingerpaint the cobblestones. You can also paint a few stairs leading up to the door and a yellow door handle. I painted these words in gold/yellow paint on the top of the door: "MAKERS OF FINE WANDS SINCE 382 B.C."

Step 6: Create Window Toppers

Alright, so I don't know what these things are called, but they add a lot to the whole look of the diorama. Cut up a Pringle can so you have two pieces that are slightly wider than the toilet paper roll halves and about an inch tall. Paint them black, and then use some gold/yellow paint to paint "OLLIVANDERS" in all caps. Top it off with some mod podge, since paint doesn't like to stick permanently on pringles cans.

Step 7: Add More Windows

Before I glued on the window toppers from the previous step, I decided to add another layer of windows on top of the existing ones. I did the same thing from step three, except I decided to paint the window panes instead of cut them out. After I glued them into the box, I glued on the window toppers from the last step. You can see I've also painted a window in between them. However, I do end up cutting those windowpanes out later on.

Step 8: Create the Brick Wall

I wanted to create the illusion of the brick wall opening up. First, I cut the flaps on both sides to about 3 inches wide and painted them gray. Then I used a square paintbrush, dipped it in dark red paint, and painted some bricks. After the paint dried, I cut out some of the bricks to create the illusion of the bricks opening themselves up. At this point, I also hot glued the left side. I had left it open until this point because it made it easier to place, glue, and paint all of the pieces inside.

Step 9: Create a Hanging Sign

Originally, I wanted to use a bottle cap, like from a beer bottle, for the hanging Ollivander's sign. Alas, I did not have one. I did, however, find this old steampunk accessory in my sewing box and I thought it would do the trick. I hung it on some white/gold string, strung it through a hole in the very center of the top of the box, tied a knot, and hot glued the knot in place at the top.

Step 10: Add Some Lights

I had these fairy/string lights leftover from another project and they worked perfectly for this diorama. I merely poked some holes in the back of the diorama and poked the lights through. I taped the string lights to the back of the box and hot glued the battery pack/switch to the top.

Step 11: Finished!

I really love the way it turned out. I used mostly recycled cardboard for the diorama -- I love upcycling! This was a great rainy day project to do while watching the films. It took me the first three movies -- Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban -- to complete the diorama. I consider it a day well spent!

Recycled Speed Challenge

Second Prize in the
Recycled Speed Challenge