DIY Harry Potter figures

It’s Harry’s birthday soon, and I wanted to make him something special.  Last year’s matryoshka woodland animals were a huge, if slow-burning hit; one winter’s night we repurposed them as worry-catchers; small animals to capture little worries, and big animals to capture the kind of worries that make it hard to fall asleep; one year on they still line up each night ready for action should they be called upon.

Given Harry’s abiding love of Harry Potter, I decided to have a go at making a set of mini figures that could be housed in a small wooden chest and pulled out each night as we read a few more pages of the book.  Each figure needed to be small enough to be held tightly in a sleepy palm, but large enough to have some careful, magical detail.  My favourites are Harry, Ron and Hermione (oh, and Hedwig of course!)…

Harry Potter Peg Dolls from katescreativespace.com

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For the chest I bought an inexpensive ($5) craft store blank, and then lined it with a copy of the Marauders Map.  All of the characters tuck neatly inside, with room for a few more if I ever get around to it…

DIY Harry Potter play set

DIY box set of Harry Potter figures

Professor Snape was the easiest by far; once I’d worked out his expression, his black robe and slippery, stringy black hair were simple;

Professor Snape from katescreativespace

These took my about a week of pottering and painting in the evenings, and I love how they turned out.  I’ve wrapped each one in tissue paper inside the trunk, ready for  Harry’s birthday.  I still have a handful of peg figures left so I think I might add to them over time; we’ll see!  If you fancy giving this a go (do!), here’s a materials list and some tips and ideas below…

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My materials list:

  • Peg doll blanks were these from Amazon, in men and women styles (try Hobbycraft, eBay or Amazon in the UK)
  • Wooden bank chest from here (similar here for UK shoppers)
  • I like these acrylic paints because the colours are vibrant on wood and mix well together
  • This gold and silver paint pen for accents like Dumbledore’s hat and Hagrid’s buckle
  • All my tiny accessories like the broomstick, books and herb plant are from the Small Wonders range of dollhouse accessories

Tips on painting the figures:

  • I started by giving them all a coat of skin-tone paint.  It saves time to do them all at once and also gives a nice base colour.  Once I’d done that I left the faces alone until the very end (partly due to nerves; the expressions felt like the most important bit!).

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  • I painted Harry, Hermione and Ron’s bodies at the same time, starting with a triangle of pure white for their shirts, then adding a pale grey jumper and pure black robe.  I built up the detail from there, using a cadmium red for the tie and a gold pen for the stripes and accents on their clothing.

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  • Hedwig began with two coats of pure white acrylic, and then I built up the eyes with two large circles of pure yellow, ringed in black, then dotted with black pupils, picked up with tiny spots of white to indicate the sunlight bouncing off them.  Tiny stippling with a grey brush added feathers and down. Finally, I dipped the brush in silver for his furled wings.  The letter he is carrying is a tiny square of watercolour paper with envelope flaps drawn on, dotted with cadmium red to mimic a wax seal.
  • Snape was the simplest of all; a pure white band of collar and then jet-black all over. I used a dark grey for the stripes that resemble pleats to his robe.  The tiny book glued to his front is a leather-bound mini-book from a craft-store, designed to be made into a jewellery charm but perfect instead for this!
  • Dumbledore is recognisable mostly from his flowing white hair and gathered beard and his elaborate hat.  The colours of his outfit are bold and simple, and the detailing on his hat is all done with a gold pen (see above).  The glasses and eyes too are drawn with a fine-tip black marker pen; I decided that even my steady hand was too unreliable for such tiny, important details.
  • Hagrid is recognisable from his wild and bushy hair and beard; I used a very slim brush to capture the waves and curls, and painted on highlights with a lighter shade.  His clothing was surprisingly the hardest because it is so non-descript – hessian and linen in amorphous, vast shapes drawn together with a giant belt.
  • Faces; I used a pale pink colour to stipple on for warm cheeks on everyone but the ghostly Snape, and used a fine black marker pen for eyes and glasses.  Hair I drew on with a pencil and then painted over with a tiny, thin brush loaded with colour.  Classical peg dolls tend to only have eyes so I kept facial features to a minimum; the odd mouth and hint of a nose in places, but no more.
  • The accessories were the most fun bit; choosing books and a Herbology plant for Hermione, and finding a tiny doll’s house broom for Harry.  I also found a miniature silver tray that I will use if ever I get around to painting a Dobby (the Hogwarts House Elf).

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Have a wonderful week!

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