I enjoy making things from insulation foam, mainly for Halloween. I've made many things for friends and family, but up until now I'd only made a gravestone for my wife (she's very understanding). Seeing how she's a big fan of all things Harry Potter, I decided to recreate this sign for her birthday after visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida last year. I thought it would go well with the few collectibles she already had and those she would undoubtedly purchase at the park (which included a wand, of course). Did I mention she's a big fan? She practically rag dolled like a three year old when I suggested we should leave to enjoy other areas of the amusement park. But that's a story for another time.
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Step 1: Replica of Ollivander's Wand Shop Sign
After some research, it appeared there were a couple different versions of the sign since there are signs in Diagon Alley and Nocturn Alley. The one at Universal Hollywood may be different too. They are very similar, but I painted mine to appear more like the original one in Diagon Alley. The brackets are different too, so I took a little liberty on that. Anyway, here's what you'll need:
- 1/2 inch Insulation Foam for the sign (I used the pink XPS instead of EPS for stability and smoothness)
- 1 1/2 inch Insulation Foam for the bracket
- Foam cutting tool (I'm lucky enough to have a hot knife and hot wire tools, but a knife can be used to make this.)
- Wire Brush
- Small metal or plastic chain (I only used metal because I couldn't find plastic in an appropriate size.)
- Four or more screws for the bracket (for looks only)
- Fasteners for the chain (I used poultry net staples and a little glue, but an eyebolt or something similar could work.)
- Velcro (I used the all plastic Command brand.)
- Latex paint of any color (Get some "oops" paint or use what you have. This is to help seal the foam to protect it from the acetone in the spray paint). Acrylic paint can also be used, but can soak into XPS foam a little, requiring more coats.
- Small craft brushes and/or foam brushes
- HIGHLY recommend RUST-OLEUM Universal Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.
- Gold Paint (I used Anita's Metallic Craft Paint- Antique Gold.)
- Flat Black spray paint
- Assorted ground spices (Cinnamon, Paprika, Cumin, etc.)
Step 2: The Sign
I'm really low tech, so I just took the original image of the sign, used Microsoft Paint to enlarge it, then printed it out on multiple pages to get the size I wanted. Ultimately, the sign is approximately 30 inches. I taped the pages together, cut out the image to make a template, then traced it on to the 1/2 inch foam. I then used my hot wire cutter to cut out the sign shape.
Use sandpaper to smooth and correct any imperfections. If using the pink foam and a hot wire, make sure you sand away the little "hairs" that are produced.
I then used a large wire brush to create a texture on areas of the foam, but left some areas smooth. This will help make the sign appear to be made of metal and look like it has pitted over the many years it has hung outside Ollivander's. Use a scrap piece of foam and experiment with hitting the foam with different amounts of force, change up the angles, etc.
Step 3: Painting the Sign
I actually used an airbrush to spray on a couple coats of acrylic paint to preserve the texture I created with the wire brush and to ensure I protected the foam from the acetone in the spray paint; however, a light coat of latex paint will work.
I then gave the sign a couple coats of paint with the RUST-OLEUM Oil Rubbed Bronze. There may be a more professional way, but this is where I use some ground spices from the kitchen to create a "rusted" effect. While the paint was wet, I sprinkled it on various areas of the sign. It doesn't have to be a lot, but do it to your liking. I used more in heavier "pitted" areas and on the large star where it appeared the gold paint has worn off.
Again, I'm low tech and not that knowledgeable on professional painting, so I had the dilemma of how to make the gold at the edge as even and as perfect as possible. I decided to cut a portion, or notch, off of a small craft brush. The short bristles would butt up against the side of the sign while the long bristles would be at a constant distance where the paint was being applied. Reference the pic of the original sign to decide where lines should be thinner, where they intersect, where the paint is missing or "worn," etc. Sprinkle more spices where you'd like. If you need to touch up areas, spray some of the bronze paint on another surface and use a small brush to paint over the gold you don't want.
The wand portion itself - I used a smaller brush to paint the design on the wand and used painter's tape to assist with the straight lines. Notice that, unlike the curved parts, there is some space between the edge and the gold paint, just like the original.
After the sign was completed and dry, I did brush on very small amounts of Modge Podge in order to sprinkle more spices for the "rust" effect.
Step 4: The Bracket
So, I came up with a design for a bracket and drew it out on the 1 1/2 inch foam. I then cut a rectangular shape out larger than the flat end of the bracket. After drawing the outline of the flat end of the bracket in the center of the rectangle, I cut out that portion. This whole sign is very light weight because I wanted to use Velcro to secure it to the wall. This small rectangular piece slides toward the wall in order to hide the Velcro and make everything appear flush against the wall.
Add some screws or bolts to the corners to help make it appear the whole thing is screwed into the wall.
Give the bracket parts a light coat of latex paint, let it dry, then spray it with a couple of coats of flat black spray paint. Use more reddish, brown spices to simulate rust if you like. This is especially helpful if you have imperfections in your foam. Those imperfections are now areas which have become rusted and flaky.
Step 5: Finishing
I used small metal chain, spray painted black, to hang the sign. Poultry net staples, which are U shaped, with a little glue were used to attach the chain to the bracket and sign. They were, of course, also painted black.
Lastly, the Velcro (these were Command strip, all plastic - not soft, fuzzy Velcro) was applied to the end of the bracket and the larger rectangular piece was slid onto the back. Once attached to the wall, the rectangular portion was slid against the wall to hide the Velcro, to make everything flush, and to make it appear it was all bolted to the wall.
My wife loves the sign and it looks great next to her Harry Potter shrine in our entertainment center. I hope you're inspired to make one of your own!
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