I’m calling this tutorial How to Make a Wizard Staff, although I actually made it to go with my Maleficent costume. But the staff can be used for any magical costume from wizards to wandering elves! It’s easy to make, doesn’t cost a lot of money and looks really cool when it glows.
Materials Needed to Build Glowing Wizard Staff
- A large stick (real ones look the coolest, but you can also use something like a broom handle)
- Small knife
- Wood stain
- Fine sandpaper
- Large Christmas ornament with screw base
- Worbla or other similar molding material (I sell small pieces perfect for this project in my Etsy shop: Small Worbla Sample)
- Glow sticks
Start with the Staff Body
I wandered around the park until I found the perfect stick. It needs to be thick enough so it doesn’t snap when using it for walking, but not so thick that it gets heavy. I read one tutorial that suggested you dig up a small sapling, but I’d go with trying to find a fallen tree limb first! Ones with curves and bumps have more character, but make sure the top part is straight enough where you can attach the ornament to the top and have it point the right way.
If you aren’t near parks or trees, you can also make a staff with a broom or mop handle. My first Maleficent staff was a broom handle spray-painted gold, with a broken round sake bottle duct taped to the top. I felt it was time to upgrade this year!
Once you find the right stick, it’s time to clean it. First I blasted it with the hose on jet because it had spiders living in it. (sorry spiders!) Then I picked off a lot of the bark and blasted it with the hose again. Once I couldn’t get any more bark off with my hands, I used a small knife to pry the rest off and wittel down a few spots. Once I got it cleaned off, I went over it with the sandpaper to make sure everything was smooth, but made sure to leave some of the branch’s natural texture.
Next Step: Painting the Staff
If you like the look of your branch without any extra color, you can just cover it with a clear polyurethane. I wanted mine to be a bit darker but still show the texture, so I went with a wood stain in Dark Walnut. I applied it with a sponge and wiped it off a bit with a rag. I did one good coat and let it dry. I’ve seen other tutorials that suggest two coats and then a coat of polyurethane, but I think that looks too fake. I wanted my staff to still look like real wood. When the stain is fully dry, it won’t be sticky or come off on your hands.
Find an Ornament with a Screw Base
For this very important piece I headed to the Dollar Tree and found the perfect large clear plastic Christmas ornaments. I was originally looking for something round, possibly glass, but I’m really happy I went with the lightweight plastic and I liked the different shape as well. The ornament I used was almost 5″ tall and 3″ wide. The screw base is the key to making this a glowing staff.
Attach the Screw Base to the Wizard Staff
This is where the Worbla comes in! Worbla is a thermoplastic molding material shaped with heat. You can use a hair dryer if it gets really hot, but you’ll have the easiest time using a heat gun. I put small size Worbla pieces perfect for the project in my Etsy shop, just $10 with free shipping! (the link will take you to the shop) If you don’t use Worbla, you can also use any molding material you prefer.
I used black Worbla so I didn’t need to paint it at all when I was done. I started by heating it up and wrapping a small piece around both the stick and the ornament base. I completely covered the base, but made sure to keep it away from the top edge so the top can screw on and off. Wrapping it looks better if it’s not done perfectly! I actually tore the pieces off so they’d look a little rough around the edges.
Next you can create any kind of top you’d like. I realized after making mine that it looked a bit like the staff from the movie Onward. The Worbla will stick to the ornament and dry in whatever shape you mold it to. I squashed and twisted the pieces around the top, and then hung it upside-down to dry. Be sure to check and make sure you leave the bottom clear so it can screw on and off easily. I also wrapped a little bit of the black Worbla around the part where I’d be carrying the staff.
Make the Staff Glow
Once you have your whole wizard staff built, you can put anything that glows or lights up inside! I used several glow sticks, cut in half. I got a pack of them at the dollar store and cut them in half with scissors, then put them in with the cut part facing up. (otherwise the glow stuff will run out) If you haven’t ever cut up a glow stick, be prepared for a neat glowing mess! It wipes up easily, but will continue to glow for a couple hours. My son thought the glowing trash can was pretty cool.
And that’s it! Feel free to post any questions. And if you happen to be local and on the hunt for a good staff stick, I found mine in Johansen Park in Atlantic Beach. There were a lot of good tree branches to choose from. Just beware of spiders!