Brass containers and candlesticks
I come from a family of makers, inventors, artists . . . and inveterate scroungers! We enjoy making things out of other things. Often, given our number and above-average height, the scrounging was a necessity. But it's also a heck of a lot of fun to see what can be created.
Carved wooden trinket box.
So when I was asked (way back in January!) to participate in this Summer's Wizarding Event, I knew that visits to Goodwill and similar resale shops would play a large part. One of my key roles was to create the set, contents, and faux mail for the post office (the "Owl Post" ostensibly had a branch location in the mail hall of our magical school). One of my goals was to create a "perfect package" for each of the 19 children who attended that day as "First Year Students".
Two old metal keys.
To be "perfect" each gift package had to fulfill the following goals:
- The items contained had to be things that could be regarded (or imagined) as magical in some way.
- The gift package had to suit the child's age (our group went from 8-14 years of age).
- The package had to have comparable coolness as far as all the other (19 total) packages were concerned (so that no child felt somehow slighted).
- Each package had to be slightly unique compared to the others (similar was ok, but the overall package had to be a one-and-only experience for the child).
- Each package contained a personally written letter to the child that talked about the items enclosed.
- The items had to be enclosed in some funky, exotic, or otherwise not quite everyday box of some kind.
- The package had to be wrapped for the mail in heavy brown packing paper; tied with some kind of cord or fiber; addressed personally but oddly to each child; and decorated with real postage stamps and cancellation marks.
Decorative Weaved Boxes, interiors.
So every other week or so I trolled the Goodwill and resale shops in our area, eyes open and imagination turned towards any item (preferably $3 or less!) that could be transformed into a magical packet for a wide-eyed wizarding student.
Package 7 was almost entirely comprised of Goodwill items.The finished packet measured about 9 x 9 inches.
A very cool part of this package was its box: a real wooden cigar box! It has gold-colored hinges and clasp. The outer edges were rounded off, giving it a kind of Art Deco appearance. It didn't smell of tobacco, fortunately, but there was a painted on logo on the top. I painted over it with green, metallic acrylic paint and then stamped and embossed a gold sun-shape over the green.
There were 3 items in this gift: two brass-looking "mini-cauldrons" and a very old padlock with key. Apologies: I forgot to photograph the lock! It wasn't as old or as fancy as this antique French lock, but it had similarly raised markings. The key wasn't a skeleton key as depicted here, but older than most of the keys kids would be likely to see nowadays.
The cauldrons fit perfectly. The lock and its key I enclosed in a "pillow box" that I had in my stash of stationery papers and envelopes.
The letter for this item was handwritten on handmade paper. I used my trusty Esterbrook "Dip-Less" Pen and vintage-era Esterbrook 407 Inkwell. (Artist and author James Gurney had some brief, descriptive words to say about these two writing tools on his blog a couple of years ago.)
What is especially cool about the pen is that it uses interchangeable nibs. One pen, many possible ink lines! (Finding the nibs is a challenge, though. I lucked out the summer I found my pen and inkwell; both from eBay. The prices on this stuff can be pretty outrageous. Just now, while creating this post, I checked to see what was selling today. One seller had the 407 inkwell starting at $16.00; another was offering a not-too-clean version at $189.00! Buyer beware indeed!)
The surface of the paper for the letter was quite rough with bits of grass strewn in among the fibers layers. I used the nib with the widest point and wrote rather slowly. Even then it took me awhile to write this fairly short note.
Transcription of the letter:
p.s. Maybe you can use the lock? Hope so. J.F.
I had these 2 mini-sized cauldrons -- now that I have a new one from my Dad I thought I would pass these on to a new student. Good luck in Potions Class. Hope you do better than I did! Ha Ha!
J------- F----2nd YearHouse T----
Like all the packages, the letter was folded and placed inside its box on top of the gift items.
This packet was one of the largest given out that day. Needless to say, when my Pony Express Carrier self brought this out of the large canvas delivery bag, all eyes were on it as the children wondered to whom it was addressed!
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The posts describing these imaginary postal packages can be found grouped here under the tag faux package.