Activity of the day: Making Magic Wands With Whittling!
Who doesn't love a magic wand? Whether you really need to be a fairy, witch, wizard or conjuror, wands are the go-to essential prop.
Everyone of any age and most abilities can take part in this activity- you just need: Either a potato peeler or a sharp knife,
Pens or paints to colour if desired
Sharp knives are much safer than blunt ones, but look up how to use them safely- some hints from the Woodland Trust here and a more comprehensive discussion of how not to sever an artery here.
An additional rule we use is also that you must keep a glove on the hand that isn't holding the knife (or peeler)- that way, you've got a little bit of extra protection in case you make a mistake: Though your hand should always be behind the knive so never be in harm's way, accidents do happen. The hand holding the tool stays bare except in very cold weather, as gloves can cause your grip to slip.
Dry, dead seasoned wood is harder to whittle than fresh green wood, but can be easier to work details with. Bark peels easily off green wood (see yesterday's post for more on tree anatomy) which can either be really useful - especially if using a peeler - or incredibly frustrating if you're trying to make a detailed pattern in the bark then the whole thing peels off!
Most woods are fine to use- all the fruit tree woods, sycamore, willow, elder, oak, maple, ash and so on- but avoid using yew and laburnum to be on the safe side as these do contain unpleasant toxins.
Fun shapes to make on sticks include peeling the bark from a whole stick, making spirals or circles around a stick. Straight sticks are easier to peel, but lovely multi-jointed gnarled twigs can make really effective magic wands.
Felt tips and paints work well for decoration, but to do detailed patterns it will be worth leaving green wood to dry for a few days otherwise the sap is likely to make designs smudgy.
And if you have any Harry Potter fans, elder is a great wood to use if you can get hold of any: The middle is filled with a spongy pith that you can push out with a skewer (or another smaller stick if you're very determined)- so provided you have a Thestral handy to provide the core tail hair, you can genuinely make your very own Elder Wand!