Monday, December 25, 2017

My Fantastic Beasts Home Tour, Part 2!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I got you something. It's the final chapter of our Potter Party: our Floo Network and the Drowsy Goblin speakeasy! :D (Here's part 1 if you're catching up.)

First a little action sequence stepping inside:

(I love the volume change as you walk through. Oh, and you can see a little movement in the painting if you watch carefully.)

You probably recognize our brick archway from last year, so of course that we already had. It's made from two pieces of brick paneling from Lowe's (or was it Home Depot?), cut out with a jigsaw. No painting required, since the panels already come this color:

This year we added several 3D bricks sprinkled around the face to give the entry more dimension. It's a subtle change from the front, but it does look nicer in person and from the side.

To get the flickering Floo flames in the middle - and to obscure the back room until you walked through them - we made a curtain of sheer green tulle, then pointed four projection lights at it from behind. We used these lights:

They were on clearance after Halloween, so around $7 each.

We mounted the lights above and to the side of the arch, then added black paper covers to shield the room from the glare.

To make the portal easy to get through I cut the tulle curtain into 4-inch strips, so it can part anywhere like a beaded curtain.

The sign for the Drowsy Goblin is modeled after the one for Knockturn Alley at Universal. I carved the hand from pink insulation foam using a Dremel, then painted everything with craft paint.

 The Floo Network sign is a combination of foam board and craft foam, with googly eyes for rivets.

Now let's get on into the Drowsy Goblin; I bet you guys could use a drink. ;)


 The biggest change from last year is that all the furniture has been rearranged. We opened up the center of the room and placed four separate seating areas around it, creating enough space for at least 15 people to sit comfortably.

We used all of our existing furniture, then John built those two back cafe tables from 2X4s and metal pipes left over from our old work truck. The wooden chairs around those tables were thrift store finds, and only cost $3-$5 each. (Score!)

Turning around, my little owl tree is just inside the Floo portal to the left:

The gifts are a mix of prizes for the fastest people to solve this year's scavenger hunt.

 (That owl ribbon was more Halloween clearance - isn't it pretty?)

On the other side of the Floo arch is this dark corner:

John designed all of the Wanted posters (except Newt's and Jacob's), to feature photos of our friends, complete with made-up nicknames and assorted magical crimes.

John could fit 6 of these on a large sheet, which cost about $8 to print at Kinko's. I then aged them using black and brown shoe polish, and tacked them up with Poster Putty.

Sparkly decor on the sofa table nearby.

While we didn't completely blanket the ceiling with hanging candles this year, I couldn't resist adding 20 or so around the room. They're mostly around the walls, with a few groupings hanging lower over the back tables.

At the front of the room is John's biggest build: a custom Goblin-sized bar.

It's a shame you can't see all the beautiful detail on this thing, from the decorative panels underneath to the faux wood-grain to the "brass" foot rest (made from a PVC pipe). The whole thing slides right over our existing media cabinet, and that wall panel and frame are attached, too, so it's all one piece.

 Here's where we kept the Giggle Water and Felix Felicis, along with a champagne glass tower (wisely using plastic champagne glasses, uhthankyouverramuch.)

(This is the only photo I have of it taken during the actual party; the rest were taken afterward.)

Now let's talk about John's baby: the project he started planning before any other, the project I was HIGHLY skeptical of but went along with anyway... the moving painting.

Here it is in action:

I was convinced this would never work, but in the end even I was impressed by the overall effect. It looks much better in person - less light, less blue, and of course it doesn't have those awful flickering lines; those only show up in video. (Grr.)

Obviously we used our TV for this trick, but I think we blazed some new trails in how we went about it. First we built that wall panel onto the bar top, so the frame would sit flush on the "wall" and not give-away the TV's depth. Next - and here's the part I'm rather proud of - we brushed a heavy coat of Mod Podge onto a sheet of plexiglass, cross-hatching it to simulate brush strokes in an oil painting, and inserted that sheet of plexi into the frame. (John also made the frame, cutting it to size from a thrift store find.) We then intentionally placed a little lamp in front so the light would show off all that texture.

Ah, but what about the film for the actual moving picture part? WELL...

That was a lot of work, too.

I was so paranoid about spoilers I didn't photograph much, but here's a look at my camera while we were testing the setup, before John got fully into costume:

This was all shot in our dining room, with John wearing a rather convincing Goblin mask he bought online. It was painstaking setting up all the props and arranging John's position, then I had to get on a ladder beside him and drop the pixie into frame on a fishing line, which I STILL think is too silly, but John loves it and I was tired so we finally just went with it.

Once we had enough film of John "sleeping" and being woken by a pesky pixie, John edited it to make a long loop, then added effects to make the film look more like a painting. He added a soundtrack of snoring - which stops when he wakes up - and set it so he only moves every 5-7 minutes, just to keep people guessing. (He has two or three different movements; the video I shared has the longest and most interesting one.)

Finally, we adjusted our TV settings to remove almost all of the backlight and contrast. The lamp on the side helps disguise what remaining light is still coming from the TV, to further the illusion.

It was fun watching our friends work it all out: that the "painting" DID move sometimes, and then later, exactly WHO was in the painting, since several couldn't believe we'd filmed it all ourselves!

Right, moving on:

Floating candles instead of snitches in the wreaths this year.

And lots of pretty bottles overhead to go with the bar:

I knew my bottle of Crystal Skull Vodka (signed by Dan Aykroyd, natch) would come in handy someday.
The little barstools were $10 at Walmart; we cut them down and painted them a cheery red. (If you're new here & want to see how we built the color-changing circles shelves, here's your click.)

And finally, the last big project of the room, our Giggle Water tree!

We used cardboard shipping boxes and foam board to make the crates, so they're extremely light. I designed the crate graphics, John printed them at Kinkos, and then we glued them in place before I aged the whole thing with an oh-so-subtle pinkish-brown glaze.

The tree is a 3-foot "champagne" tinsel color - OF COURSE - and then we added metal rods through it to hold the floating champagne glasses:

It's hard to see, but the glasses are coated with pink glitter and filled with sparkly fiber fill, and they "float" around the tree in a spiral.

The topper is a plastic bottle (you can find them at Walmart filled with candy) which I also coated with pink glitter. Then I made the Giggle Water label, added a sparkly ribbon, and stuffed it full of lights to make it glow.

The best part is that holographic tinsel, which I used to simulate the shower of champagne bursting out of the bottle. That's actually a door fringe backdrop I found on Amazon for $8, and I have tons left over. I love that they're all super long pieces attached inside the bottle neck, so there's no danger of pieces falling off and the cats eating them. And since the tinsel ends at the crate level, it's out of the cats' reach.

Finally I added a bunch of iridescent clear balls and lots of sparkly fiber fill to simulate bubbles and foam under and throughout the whole tree.

The blues and pinks look heavenly against all the orange lights of the Edison bulbs and candles; like a sparkly beacon of pastel rainbow goodness, right there in the corner. [dreamy sigh] Aaaaa.

Oh! And the poster! John tweaked that classic advertisement in photoshop, adding our own text & changing the color tone, then tile-printed it on our home printer. (Color printing at Kinko's in that size is  pricey.) We taped all the pieces together, and happily it's so dark in the back room you can't see the seams at all, even up close!

PHEW, I think that's everything, gang! Let's take one last look around before I say good night:

I hope you guys enjoyed seeing all our hard work and crazy ideas! Thank you, and here's to a lovely, peaceful, rest-filled holiday. [goes off to collapse]


  1. I am always gobsmacked with the level of creativity and effort you guys put into all your projects!!!

    1. Gobsmacked. What a perfect word for my reaction to this!

  2. You two are the perfect storm of craftiness. You inspire me with every blog. Thank you for sharing with us!

  3. The level of craft you guys put into this is amazeballs. Universal should tap you as consultants for their Harry Potter parties!

  4. The moving painting effect was incredible! Oh my gosh! Totally worth the wait to see how that worked!

  5. LOVE! Everything you two did this holiday!

  6. My sister is obsessed with these new, energy/price efficient lightbulbs that give off this garish blue white light and it looks like her house is lit up like a retail store (I've been at her house all day and I guess I'm bitter. Thank goodness xmas is OVER!). Those yellowy lights at your house look so dreamy and cozy. I'm relaxed just by looking at your pics and video.

  7. I love all of your different Xmas trees! I'm impressed you found a use for those "champagne"/beige tinsel trees!

  8. Maybe you could do a before/after shot of this living room from before you guys redid the walls and everything? I bet the new folks to Epbot would love to see even MOAR of your hard work!
    (although... that would mean work of pic editing... hmmm...)

  9. This is all so wonderful. Thank you for sharing it with us! We are doing a ton of home reno, these posts help me look forward to what I can do once we are done!
    Something to think about for printing-big-size-cheaper -- go to It's where I print my big (54 in x 36 in) posters for scientific conferences? But they will print anything. :)

  10. I am forever in awe of your abilities. I love the frilly adorableness of the Gigglewater tree.

  11. So cool!! Are there any pictures of the party in action (taken by you or the guests)?

  12. Just when I think you can't outdo yourselves (e.g., this time last year), you go ahead and blow me away! Wow! I am in awe of both of your talent and creativity!

  13. This is an incredible amount of work! I want to hang out in the bar all the time! :) And if those amazing green chairs go missing... ;)

    1. If this were a real bar I would never go anywhere else, lol! This is incredible. I'm obsessed with that "Painting"

  14. Aahh this is stunning. The moving picture is amazing - I love the textured plexi, it's such a perfect touch! You are both so incredibly talented. Thank you for sharing your awesomeness with us!

  15. The moving painting is brill! I love that. As always totally amazed by the details. I adore them all.

  16. Man, this is incredible. I mean, I knew it was incredible before, but seeing the amount of work and thought you put into this makes me wish I was your friend and could come to this party like nothing else. The depth of detail in the moving painting alone, jeez. I mean, I knew it had to be something like that, but that you actually had to make your own film for the painting is just awe-inspiring. And the Giggle Water tree! Heavenly.

  17. Picking my jaw up off of the floor. My god this is glorious.

  18. This is incredible! I wish I knew you for real!

  19. If someone asked ever so nicely for that giggle water poster printout would that be something you’d be willing to share?! I’m stating to plan for a party for next year and we want to start early! You guys are such an inspiration!

    1. Of course! Just e-mail me at Jen (at) Epbot, since John handles e-mail, ha. The file is on his computer, so assuming he still has it (he probably does) he can send it over no problem.


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