I create artifacts. I don’t believe any of them have mystical properties. To me, they are interesting assemblages of fun materials, as make-believe as the fantasy worlds I create in my writing.
I love special-effect props. I judge movies and shows not only by plot and action, but by the quality of the props. (Warehouse 13 is required watching, for me. The Hellboy and LoTR movies are consistently at the top of my shiny list.) If I lived in California, I might have moved heaven and earth to apprentice with some of the big prop shops and warehouses.
About ten years ago, the Harry Potter craze convulsed our fair shores. After several children-of-friends whined about ‘Harry Potter parties’ and how all the prop wands on the market looked like kid’s plastic toys (because hello, most of them were), I caved. I snapped up a dozen pairs of cheap wood chopsticks from a local import shop, hit a welding shop for some bronze wire, set up wire-twisting jigs, and spent an afternoon kitting out would-be young wizards. I took money for it. The kids were happy, and the parents were appeased.
The next day, my hands hurt like blazes. I decided wand-making was not high on my list of potential mass-production revenue schemes. But I wondered how some unique prop wands might look, made in better materials.
Off to the import store again, this time for elegant turned chopsticks in walnut and rosewood. Off to the jewelry-supply place for heavy gauge silver wire (back when it wasn’t stupidly expensive). This time, I couldn’t just cold work the metal, since I had to silver-solder a lot of twists and turns into place. That led to Prop Wand 1 (above left), which is now a candle snuffer when it isn’t a steampunk accessory in a wrist holster.
That led to a friend’s challenge of some more-involved pieces that could appear to be magic/tech props. I built a few, sold ’em, and set those concepts aside for more book art.
Here is one wand that hasn’t been made yet: Osage Orange Stick #2. It incorporates the lovely golden sheen of osage orange wood, sterling silver, smoky quartz, cubic zirconium, glass mirrors, and glass fiber-optic cables. If I am sufficiently insane, I’ll bulk out the back end to give enough room for a white or blue LED, a battery compartment, and a thumb switch. That means no pretty braid in the optic cable, but no one is going to see inside the final version.
To see what some truly gifted artisans have done with prop wand concepts for both working stage magicians and New Agers, go see my inspirations at Acme Wands.
I’ve seen some amazing M/M ‘Old West’ stories, and I can just see the Acme sticks in, ah, combat use. (Getcher minds outta the gutter, if I’d wanted to say ‘sex toy’, I would have.)