Today I want to share my latest distraction/obsession/way to avoid the more mundane aspects of being a creative entrepreneur. I really should have been working like crazy last week to finish up some bigger pieces for Sterlingfest. Instead, I obsessively made these fairy wands for three days. It’s what I love and what I hate about being a creative entrepreneur all in one crazy fun activity.
I struggled to title this post, because it’s about more than just DIY fairy wands. I thought about calling it “DIY Distraction,” or “Why I Love What I Do,” or even “What I do When I’m Avoiding ‘Work,’” but I figured a focus on the DIY would be easiest to start off with.
I also struggled with this post a little bit because it almost seems off-brand (more on that in a later post), but the truth is, it might just be what pushes me to expand what I do a bit more. On the surface, especially to me, that sounds like the worst thing ever because I feel like I already have way too much going on, but I think more children’s items in my particular style have the potential to really round out my products in an organic way.
I love making children’s items. Remember how I didn’t get into the DIY home décor stuff until I was married with a house? Well, I never thought much about children’s items until I had a baby. Then I started making all of this stuff for Charlotte—car seat snuggly, baby blankets, bibs, burp cloths, hair bows, painted nursery furniture—and it was all so adorable and lovely that I made a bunch of it to sell at shows and in my Etsy shop.
My baby line did really well, too, but for some reason, I got tired of the items almost as soon as they were made. I hate having little items scattered all over my larger pieces—it always makes me feel like I’m saying to my customers “here, focus on these little things,” when what I really want to showcase is my furniture. Smaller items are important at shows—if there is something small that a customer can pick up and hold in their hand, even if they don’t buy it, the chances are they’ll stay in your booth longer, and the longer they stay, the more likely they are to buy something, place a special order, or at least sign up for my email list. So the little items are super helpful–I just don’t want them piled all over my bigger pieces. Hopefully this display we’ve been working on will help with that this summer:
Anyway, what you’re really here for is DIY fairy wands, right? Sorry about the detour we took getting here.
The seed of this project appeared with the advent of the Rochester Explorer’s Club, which Charlotte and I signed her up for during Sidewalk Sales this year. I love downtown Rochester, as you all know from reading my About page, and I feel like they are always coming up with awesome things for the community to do. The Explorer’s Club basically consists of an adventure guide that has a bunch of suggestions for activities (a little like scouts, but less involved), and you go around town collecting badges for each activity that you complete.
One of the first ones that caught my eye was sponsored by Haig’s jewelry store (incidentally, this is the jewelry store that made my wedding ring for me, so that’s fun), and the activity consisted of designing and making your own fairy wand and then bringing it in to the store to cast a spell and claim your badge. As soon as I read it, I got inspired with this project—I knew it was something Charlotte would love doing and could help me with most of.
I already had a bunch of wooden dowels in the garage leftover from some chalkboard signs I made for a baby shower last year that would be perfect for the wand part. I let Charlotte pick out a color for the wand first, and set her to work painting that. I have this little bucket of paint samples in my paint cabinet, and she’s always pulling that out asking to help with projects, so I let her pick one from there, and she of course chose blue. Perfect for a fairy wand.
The next thing I did was go through this amazing bag of vintage fabric scraps that I bought at a garage sale earlier this summer (it was supposed to be listed on Etsy as craft supply by now, but I’m sure I’ll get there). I am a sucker for fabric, friends. I can’t resist an adorable vintage print. I’m not even a huge sewing person—that is just not my gift—but I buy SO. MUCH. FABRIC. At least I know my limits with it, and I know what I can do. In this case, I knew the star on top of the fairy wand needed to be made from one of these gorgeous fabrics, sewn and stuffed to give it a little dimension. I could do that.
I pulled out a bunch of fabric in blues and let Charlotte choose which one she liked best. While the stick part was drying, we went inside, found a star outline online, and printed it out to use as a pattern. Charlotte did some coloring while I cut out the two stars and sewed them together, then I put her back to work getting the stuffing in while I pulled out my HUGE ribbon collection. I’m the kind of sick freak who saves the ribbon and rope handles off shopping bags, so I have a lot of ribbon (though I have a lot less after making 45 fairy wands!!). It’s basically a disaster.
Once the star was stuffed, the stick was dry and we put the whole thing together. I used hot glue to attach the star to the top of the wand, wrapped two skinnier ribbons around the wand underneath it, and then tied a larger ribbon underneath the star over the two skinnier ones. I probably should have secured the bow and ribbons with a bit more hot glue (lesson learned for the later versions), because after about 30 seconds of what passes for spell casting when you’re three, the bow had already come halfway undone. By that time, of course, she was way too attached to it to give it back to me to fix, so I just had to wait until she got tired of it to fix it. Luckily, we got a good picture before the unraveling happened. Look how proud she is:
Thanks Rochester Explorer’s Club. Seriously, though, I was just as giddy. It was a super fun project and I wanted to do more. Like, forty-five more. Which I did over the next three days. The only thing I changed about the subsequent wands was the size of the star—I felt like I made the one for Charlotte’s wand a bit too small, so for the next 45 wands I just made it a bit bigger—about four inches across, which ends up being more like 3-3.5 inches when it’s sewn and stuffed.
Since I didn’t take step by step photos when we were making Charlotte’s wand (totally didn’t anticipate this becoming a thing, friends), here are some step by step photos of different wands throughout the process:
Step 1: Cut and Paint the Dowel: The wand handles are 1/4” dowels cut to about 19” long. I used chalk paint for the wand because I have it and I love it and I’m trying to use some old stuff up, but obviously anything would work. I like the idea of staining them, too, for a more woodland fairy look–maybe for the next show. Dark stained wood with white fabric and ribbons?? Get out. So pretty. If you do one like that, leave a photo in the comment or on my Facebook page for sure. I want to see it!!
Step 2: Choose a Fabric and Cut Out Your Star: I just doubled the fabric, pinned the pattern to it, and cut it out (see above links for the star I used. I copied and pasted it into Paint and adjusted the size until I was happy–again, the star was about 4″ across when I started sewing):
Step 3: Sew the Star Together: Right sides together, begin sewing at about the middle of one of the arms of the star—you want the opening you leave to be right in the middle of two of the points, so make sure that you start with the end in mind. I back-stitched a couple of times at the beginning and the end, since I was turning this inside out:
Step 4: Turn the Star Inside Out and Stuff: I used the eraser end of a pencil to help push the star points out gently, and just regular Poly-Fil to stuff the stars:
Step 5: Attach Star to Wand with Hot Glue: I folded the edges of the star under as best I could to conform with the rest of the seam, and then stuck a little dot of hot glue inside, twisting the wand as I pushed it in to spread the glue around the whole opening, and then pinching the fabric against the wood to hold it in place until it cooled:
Step 6: Attach Ribbons: I liked the look of the three ribbons, but this is the part where you can really get as crazy as you’d like. When I cut the skinnier ribbons, I just made sure that they weren’t the same length, and that they weren’t exactly centered when I put them together, either. I liked the imperfect look for these. When I tied the larger ribbon on, I did the same thing—I made the thicker ribbon a bit shorter than the other two, and if the two sides ended up the same length, I just trimmed one slightly:
Part of the reason I went with three is because I had a lot of ribbon to use up, and part of it is that I like odd numbers for things like this.
Here’s my fairy wand display ready for Sterlingfest 2017:
Pricing these was a little hard for me, because I got really attached to the different fabrics and designs as I went. I’m also a sucker for vintage lace and trim, and as I developed this design, I broke out some of that, as well. I get paralyzed sometimes when it comes to using some of my materials—my thought is always, Is there a better project that I could have used this on? And the answer is, probably, but who knows when that project will come along and what I might find in the meantime? Basically, self, chill out. It’s just pink floral vintage trim. It’s not brain surgery.
When I asked Dan about it, he was like “Yeah, I’d pay $5 in a heartbeat for one of those for Charlotte.” I was shocked and a little offended for half a second, but I followed his suggestion. While he’s not my ideal customer, Sterlingfest, in particular, is a family event, and dads are likely to be involved in the shopping on their way to doing other activities with their kids.
The pricing strategy ended up working out really well–I put the wands out in front of the tent on the kids table I had on display (until it sold on Friday, anyway) for Sterlingfest, and it was the perfect height for getting them right in front of the kids. I had a few teenagers even look at them and purchase a few, which I maybe should have expected, so that was really fun. The mason jars with the wands sticking out were the only small items I put out on the furniture–the rest of the small stuff was in the back of the tent on our display rack and checkout table.
The wands were inexpensive enough that most parents didn’t think twice about picking one up; as an added bonus, I could easily give them away to kids whose parents bought bigger pieces from me, which was really fun, too.
I hope you have a lot of fun making your own DIY fairy wand! Let me know how it turns out in the comments, and if you have a project you’d like to share, email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you!