Knockturn Alley Sign – Harry Potter Party

Hiya –

Time for more Harry Potter Party! In my party planning research, I came across some super cute directional sign posts and knew that we needed one for our party! Today, I will be sharing the sign for Knockturn Alley.

Knockturn Alley is a shopping area that contains stores that cater to the Dark Arts. Harry ends up in Knockturn Alley when he is misdelivered by Floo Powder. The sign from the film is dark and well worn but sports the most fantastic carved hand. It was really the opportunity to carve a hand that made this particular sign a must.

I started this project with a 2″x4″ of pine purchased at my local hardware store. To create the hand I used my Silhouette Design software to create the basic shape and printed that out to use as a guide. I used my scroll saw to cut that design out of my wood. Then I attacked that hand with my rotary tool and lots of sandpaper. I just kept working at it until the wood looked like a hand with a cuff.I used my rotary tool to create a void or pocket on the back of the cuff so the hand would sit a little closer to the sign below.

Knockturn Alley Hand

In my process to shape my hand, I lost a little bit of height and this meant that I needed to trim the remaining piece of 2″x4″ to match. I am not the best at cutting straight lines, really in any media but especially wood. So I clamped a scrap of wood to the table of my scroll saw to use as a guide. I worked out perfectly.

Painting Complete

Now, I was ready to paint the lettering. I created the lettering in my Silhouette Design Software and a font called Anglican Text and printed that out. Using graphite paper and my print out I traced the lettering onto my board. Next,  I began painting around the outlines using black paint. I completed the sign by painting the background and sides with black acrylic paint. Then, I painted the letters themselves with an off-white acrylic paint. Painting the letters allows me to fine tune the painting, if I have made any mistakes I can fix them at this stage. If you are interested in watching this part of the process please take a gander at the video.

Knockturn Alley by Jennifer Miner

Next, I painted my hand with white and off-white paint and then glued this to the main sign using wood glue. I made sure to clamp the wood pieces while they dried. At this point, I was really happy with the sign and I was tempted to keep just like that but I knew that it had to be distressed. It just had to, so I attacked my creation with coarse sandpaper and a brown paint wash. Voila – a Knockturn Alley sign was born. This will be added to the directional sign post I have been cooking up.

Completed sign

I am really excited to create the rest of the signs! Hopefully, we’ll have some decent weather so I won’t freeze when cutting them out!

Nimbus 2000 Racing Broom

Once we started our party planning one of the first things I knew that we needed to have was a Nimbus 2000 for our porch display. I started looking around and found out pretty quickly that they are pretty pricey, but in my search, I discovered that people were making their own. I decided that I would give it a go. So far, this has been my most ambitious project for the party, but I think that it turned out pretty good.

Nimbus 2000 created by Jennifer Miner

I found the hands-down best tutorial here. I looked at a few other tutorials for help on things when I got stuck but this was really all I needed. One other resource that was key for me was a template for the broom handle. There are so many wonderful people out there and this pattern was shared here. I imported the pattern into my Silhouette Design Studio and printed it out and then taped it together. I don’t have regular access to a large scale printer so this worked for me.

Nimbus 2000 – Harry Potter Party Prop

I will just give you a quick run through on my process and an overview of the tools. Like I said the first tutorial is very complete.

Nimbus 2000 – handle detail

I started with a piece of 2″x6″ pine that I picked up from my local hardware store. Then I printed out my template and traced this to my board. Next, I borrowed a jigsaw and cut out the shape. I haven’t really worked with a jigsaw before but it was pretty easy. To cut out the broom, I clamped my wood to my work table and cut out the pattern. I would reposition my wood and clamps as needed. Now, I had a square piece of wood in roughly the shape of the Nimbus.

Completed handle

Now came the shaping. In the various tutorials, people used a variety of tools to round out the broom shape. Some used a table router or I also saw an angle grinder with a sanding disk. Since I had to borrow a jigsaw I’ll bet that you can guess that I own neither of these nor any of the other tools I saw used. So that left me with what I did have, a Dremel, a rasp, and a palm sander. I will not tell you that this was quick or easy but using the carving drum on my Dremel and a coarse wood rasp I started getting the basic shape. Once I was happy with that I went to my palm sander and 60 grit sand paper. I went through quite a few piece of sandpaper but I finally had my shape.

Harry Potter Nimbus 2000

Now, came the process of finishing the sanding process. I gradually went from 60 to 400/600 grit paper.  I used a lot of 150. It was at this time that I realized that my piece of wood was not the greatest. It had a few knots and a long split and I really considered buy a new piece and starting over again. When I really weighed what this would do to my timeline for the party I quickly rejected it and just went with the flow. I filled my imperfections and got ready to stain.

By Jennifer Miner

I started by prepping my handle with pre-stain and then I used Red Mahogany to stain my broom handle. I don’t always use pre-stain but for something like this, I think that it does help give you a more even color and plus it makes me feel like I am a legitimate woodworker. You may have noticed that the color of my broom isn’t quite right, I think that this is owing to the nature of the pine. I was really afraid to apply another coat of stain because I really liked the way that the wood looked. I think that the variations of color, light to dark give it a nice character. My concern was that I would loose the woodgrain and that it could look too red, so I stopped here.

Pine handle

When my stain was dry, I began applying varnish. I left a very small portion of the handle bare. Not really on purpose but so I would have a place to hold it. I used clamps on this bare spot to hand the broom in the garage while I was varnishing it and then when it was drying.

Handle close-up

After varnish coat two I realized that I forgot a very key element, the Nimbus 2000 logo. So I was a little stuck but decided to just do it where I was, in-between the layers of varnish. Using my Silhouette Cameo and the logo I found online I created a vinyl stencil then I used gold acrylic paint to add the logo. Knowing that would not be able to fix mistakes with more paint, I made sure that the stencil was smooth and making solid contact with the broom. I also allowed the paint to dry completely dry before removing the stencil. I chose to just do the logo on one side. Then it was back to the varnishing process. Five additional coat completed the process.

Nimbus 2000

Then I drilled a hole in the end of the handle and added a dowel rod where I would be attaching the broom bristles. Now, finding the bristle materials was crazy difficult. Nothing was right. It was either too thick or too expensive or just plain wrong. Back to the internet to see what other people had used, I found my answer – a deconstructed bamboo shade.

A former bamboo shade turned broom bristles

Off to the hardware store to pick one up. A few hours later I had lots of reeds that were very close in size and length. I created a foam structure using two floral styrofoam cones and one round piece. I glued these to my dowel and used sandpaper to shape them. This created a huge mess! I painted them black with acrylic paint and then started on the broom bristles. Whooo this was a tedious process.

Bristles from a deconstructed bamboo shade

I cut a piece of clear tape and laid out a bunch of the reeds, then I applied a large amount of wood glue to my foam structure. Next, I would pick up my tape and lay the reeds in the glue. I would then place several fat rubber bands over the tape and let the reeds dry. Once they were dry I could remove the rubber bands and tape and start with the next area. I did this until I thought that I had everything mostly covered. Then I repeated this process for the bottom.

This was not an exact process and got pretty mess but in then end it did the trick. I ended up using a lot of reeds. I sort of think that my broom was a little too fat and that if it were a little more streamlined that this would have been a little easier but once the reeds were in place there was no going back. My last step with the reed was to trim them. I used my rotary tool and a cutting disk to trim them up. There were little pieces of bamboo flying everywhere.

A view from the bottom

Once the reeds were glued and completely dry came the next challenge. In the tutorial, he creates a kickstand using nylon rod and metal. While his version looks awesome with the kickstand, I decided to forgo this step and just add the gold bands. I had a terrible time finding something that would adhere to the reeds and that look correct. After a few trips to the area craft stores, I finally ended up with a thin gold cord from the sewing department. I used E6000 to glue the two ends down and used a rubber band to hold that in place while it dried. Then once that was dry I used a whole lot of super glue to get everything to stay in place.  I am still picking super glue off my fingers.

Nimbus 2000 & potions

That was it – I had my broom she was finally done and I was pretty happy with the results. I wanted to share so I took it outside to photograph it and when I stepped back to take my first photo it fell over, onto concrete and there was a dent. Not just in the varnish but the actual wood was dented, right at the top.  Well, there was no crying over toppled racing broom so I sanded the area as best as I could and re-varnished the dent. Now, the repair isn’t perfect but I figure that a real racing broom would take some damage over the course of play and it really isn’t as bad as it could have been.

The dent!

Now that this project is complete, I will be back to the creation of my signs and potions! If you follow me on Instagram you saw a work-in-progress of my Knockturn Alley sign, they’ll be more to come! Thank you for spending time here!





Cornish Pixies


Things have been a little crazy around these parts. In addition to neglecting my blog, I have totally been AWOL on house cleaning/cooking/everything else! I have been plugging away at our Harry Potter Party plans in addition to Valentine’s Day preparations. I didn’t want to share anything until I had some finished projects to share with you all and everything was just taking so long. The good news is that I finally have a project so have no fear the Cornish Pixies are here!

Shhhhh . . . .they are watching me!

I purchase a pattern on Etsy (here) to create Cornish Pixies. I had a devil of a time finding the right color of suede cloth and then ended up getting way too much of the blue and then my lighter color was way too purple to make two colored pixies. So, they are going to be one color and I will have to find something to make out of the remaining suede cloth. I am planning on adding wings but they seemed like they wanted to be introduced first.

Five little Pixies all in a row.

I have never really made anything like this before and I will admit that the process was a little bit intimidating. Turning the antenna covers was particular challenging. In the end, all the blood (actual blood), sweat, tears, blisters, and cursing was totally worth it. While they are far from perfect, the pattern was fun and very well written with lots of photos. Once I made the first one the others were much easier.  Now, I will have to be on the look out for a little bird cage for them. I have already purchased one for Hedwig but she clearly cannot share with these little mischief makers!

Plush Jointed Cornish Pixie

My studio area is a huge mess – it looks like a mad scientist has been plying his trade in here. I am working on potion bottles and they are seriously everywhere! In fact, I had to move all my sewing supplies into the dining room area to work on these guys. I am having so very much fun with this party!

Resting Cornish Pixies!

Thanks for popping by! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!


Fiber Friday – Mexican Crochet Blanket

I was tooling around Pinterest looking for an idea. My plan was to find a project for my aunt for Christmas and I really wanted something a little different. I knew that she would appreciate something a little off the beaten path with a unique style.

Crocheted by Jennifer Miner

Low and behold I came upon this very striking crocheted blanket. It was created by the Dutch crocheter, Karen Groenewoud she calls this pattern the Mexican Blanket. This project had it all – a real fun pattern and really fun colors. I loved it. I ordered the same yarn that she used and got set to work. This blanket is made with Stylecraft Special DK yarn.

Crochet Blanket designed by Karen Groenewoud

Let me say that I loved this yarn and this project. Karen has more information on her blog on the creation so I won’t bother you with that here. She makes beautiful projects and I love her color choices. I had a little trouble with my joining squares but that was just me having issues. I did block this blanket with a steam iron and I think that helped a lot. When I bought my yarn I bought way too much  and I might just have to make another. It was really fun and it is so very cheerful!

Up close Granny Square with attitude
Love those tassels

Just a quick word on the Stylecraft DK, this yarn is awesome. It is very inexpensive acrylic but it is really soft and so very easy to work with. The majority of my projects have been made with Worsted Weight yarn but this yarn might make a convert out of me.

Crocheted by Jennifer Miner

My daughter has a surprise field trip today and I am so very excited to get to chaperone! We are getting to see Beauty and the Beast at our local theater. This has been the hardest secret to keep and I can’t wait to see all their happy little faces today.

Monster Book of Monsters

Well, this little girl is finally done. This is my take on the Monter Book of Monsters. This was a real adventure.

Monster Book of Monsters by Jennifer Miner

I started with a paper mache book form, you can find these at your local craft store, I found mine near the wood section. I started by painting the inside and edges of my book. Next, I broke out the polymer clay, like every single slab I own. I mostly just some plain white that I had been hoarding for at least 15 years. I made the book “pages” first. For this, I rolled out very thin sheets of white clay that I then drew thin lines for the pages. My tissue blade worked very well for this. Next, I added this right on the front of my book. I used a little Translucent Liquid Clay to glue it down. Once the book pages were on, I smoothed the edges and add more lines. I added a little aging with chalk and a paint brush.

Pages created with chalk pastels & polymer clay

Now, I needed a spot of the tongue to pop out. First, I made a little hole on the front pages and then rolled out and cut the tongue using red clay. I attached the tongue and the whole thing went into the oven. when I put the whole book in the oven I was really nervous about it catching fire. I am happy to report that there were no burning books at this house. If you do this at your place be sure you read up on all safety issues and keep that temperature low. I didn’t go very far.

Monster Book of Monsters

Now it was tentacle time! For the tentacles, I started making tapered coils and attaching these to my book. I also made fatter tentacles for the bottom and added suckers. I really should have covered the complete edges with clay, this would have allowed the tentacle to adhere a little better. After I baked these I actually ended up pulling all the top tentacle off and reattaching them using E6000. At this time I also created the teeth portion. I just used a mixture of what I had on hand to make the teeth colors and pink gums. I also added a little chalk to these parts, for added character.

Once I have them to my liking, the book went back into the over. After the clay had cooled and I had reattached all the top tentacles, I painted them using craft acrylic paints. I also did several washes over my clay. This process consists of watering down my paint and then applying it over my cured clay, pausing a moment and then wiping most of it off. This leaves the color in the cracks and depressions. You can really add lots interest this way. This was actually the first time that I have every painted polymer clay. It was really fun and since my clay colors were limited it gave me a rainbow without having to hit the shop.

A view from the back

It was at this point that I approached the part that I was the most nervous about, the eyes. This gives the book so much character, and I didn’t want it to look silly. I had been using a photo from Insight Editions, who created the official prop replica. I knew that I wanted mine to look as similar to that as I could get it. In my research, I discovered that there are a few different looks to the books. I grabbed that clay and got to work. I just took my time and kept working until I was as close as I was going to get. The eyes are just four balls of black clay. This went into the oven to bake. Once out and cooled I got to painting and applying color washes until I was happy.

I had bought about 1/4 of a yard of the imitation wolf fur and hoped that it would be enough. After Halloween, I swore no more faux fur but this was nothing like that at all. I shook it out really well, outside and then cut what I needed and shook it out. To adhere this to the book I used a combination of hot glue and E6000 to adhere my fur. I have a seam on the bottom but the fur really covers it up pretty well. Before we were totally glued, I cut a hole for my eyes and then tucked my fur around them as I went through the rest of the project. I used a little Varathane  Polyurethane in Glossy on the teeth and eyes.

Check out those glossy teeth & eyes!

I almost stopped here, I was happy with my project and you could easily tell what it was but then I knew that it wasn’t really done without the title. That and my daughter said that it needed it and my husband agreed. It really was out of my hands at this point. I had one small pack of brown clay that would do just nicely for this part. Out came my dedicated pasta maker to flatten it into faux leather. I used my Silhouette Design Studio Software to create the titles and then I printed them out to use as a guide. This is not the exact font but I found something I already had,  it is Irish Uncial Fabeta – Bold.

Harry Potter Party Decor

I cut around my guides and then traced around my shape with a sharp pin. This is enough to actually cut the clay. Then I used a stylus to trace the letters into the clay. You just trace over each letter and this leaves an impression in the clay. Once I had the words traced I pulled up the paper and used the stylus to make the words more clear. I did some tidying up of the clay and then popped them into the oven.

Once these pieces were cooled I used Iridescent Gold Liquitex Acrylic Paint to paint the words. I did a very light wash on the brown and then applied this to my book with more E6000.  She was finally done. While my eye will still find the mistakes and flaws I am pretty happy with this little girl. I had most of the supplies on hand, I only had to buy the paper mache book and the fur which made this a very inexpensive project.

I hope that you enjoyed the photos of this latest Harry Potter project.


  • Paper Mache Book Box
  • Faux Wolf Fur
  • Polymer Clay – various colors
  • Acrylic Paint – Various
  • Glue Gun & Glue
  • E6000
  • Chalk Pastels – Stampin’ Up
  • Varathane Glossy