Our bewitching Magicians Cottage Soiree environment was created with the help of a bunch of small DIY Magical Crafts. Normally Magicians do not share their secrets, but since we love you guys, we thought we’d break the rules. Just this once.
This shindig was full of enchanting DIY projects – we created a magical portal into the land of Fillory and levitated objects to our hearts’ content. The addition of these crafts grounded our otherworldly atmosphere, making it feel tangible. Our guests felt transported to the Physical Kids’ cottage, and then again when they stepped through our grandfather clock and into Fillory. Now you can bring your guests the same experience, just follow our lead!
To Fillory & Further
Not many people can say they have a magical land in their hallway; it’s not really a standard thing in most homes. Lucky for you, you can simply create one with a few easy steps.
With Lev Grossman’s description of Fillory fresh in our minds, for our version of Fillory, we definitely wanted to include the famous Clock trees, as well as some of the beautiful hanging flowers and purple overtones the show has brought to life.
As we can’t paint the hallways in Ellie’s house, we went with our new go to wall-cover material: wrapping paper. We bought out our local Dollar King’s supply of forest green wrapping paper (about 15 tubes). Dollar stores are a great resource for plain wrapping paper at any time of the year. Plus, you can usually find plain brown packing/butcher paper there as well (try the office supply aisle). You’ll also want wood grain paper to cover your white doors with – also cheaply acquired at the dollar store. Once you’ve acquired at least 10 dark green wrapping paper tubes, at least 5 brown packing paper rolls, and 3 rolls (per door) of wood grain drawer liner, it’s time to get your enchanted forest on.
The Base Layer
Start by taping and/or stapling these green rolls to the tops of the walls. Use whichever adhering technique you prefer. The staples hold better, but are a bigger hassle to take out later than tape is. As you unroll the paper downwards, make sure to not let anything hang straight. Be organic with how you lay out your paper. You want to create movement and depth with the paper to make it feel like living foliage, as opposed to a green wall. Try scrunching the paper up to create interesting folds, and stapling/taping into place. Be generous with how much paper you use… remember, you got a lot!
Cover your hallway doors with wood grain drawer liner – this is basically the same stuff you use for wall decals, just packaged much less fancifully. Start at the top and work your way down – so that a guest’s eyeline doesn’t immediately meet with a seam.
With the brown packing paper, use the same process to create the tree trunks. Work down from about head height (we will be creating branches later), and leave enough paper at the bottom to create roots. Instead of random scrunching, play with the paper to make more vertical grooves and twists that follow the lines of a tree. Repeat this process in one or two more places in your hallway, at random intervals.
If you have obstructive things in your hallway, say like a furnace box – use it to your advantage. We were able to cover the furnace (which was not on!) with our brown paper to create a dimensional clock tree. It became our focal tree in the hallway, with most branches coming from this base.
To make your branches, twist a generous length of brown paper into a branch-like shape. Attach one end to where your tree trunk ends, and the other to the ceiling or far wall. Repeat with another length of paper, varying how low the branches hang, and where they hit the ceiling. Make sure these are super secure. We suggest staple gun or pushpins at this point. Placing tree trunks on both sides of the hallways will give you a nice net of branches overhead. Now, you can use your remaining green paper to create “clouds” of leaves where the branches meet the ceiling.
Our end goal is not to have one bit of white wall showing by the end of our enchanted forest makeover. Wherever there is wall showing, add more paper or trees. With first layer of enchanted forest created, we can now add the details.
Fake vines and florals help to add dimension and elegance to your Fillory. Don’t be shy with these – the more the better. Make sure you check out your local dollar store’s collection of fake florals. We were able to grab a batch of purple, pink & white florals for a buck each- much cheaper than getting them online. These beauties were hung straight from our ceiling in an S-shape, to evoke the purple floral bridge that our protagonists cross in the Magicians Episode 201. We also bought these packages of ivy vines and clusters from Amazon. They were hung everywhere: on the walls, from the tree branches, and around the edges of the trunks. Go crazy with your florals, details and vines, you won’t regret it!
In addition, we cheated a little bit buy purchasing this magical backdrop that helped cover our hallway pantry. It also gave a great first impression when stepping into Fillory for the first time. To disguise the square-blanket nature of the backdrop we used our vines and paper foliage to cover the edges.
Rounding out the spellbinding forest were battery operated purple fairy lights that lit the way and added depth and other-worldliness to the atmosphere.
The gasps of astonishment and joy from every guest who entered Fillory made all of the effort worth it.
Clock Tree Faces
You can’t have a proper Fillorian experience without Clock Trees! That’s why we had some physical clock trees in our forest, as well as using more clock faces to decorate the bathroom. Most of the clock faces we used were printed on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper, and mounted on black foam core. We sized the clock faces for our featured trees to little round wooden plaques purchased from the dollar store, and mod-podged onto them. A timely fit!
Wooden Directional Signs
When we found these small wooden signs at the dollar store, we couldn’t resist making some directional signs for Fillory. This easy magical craft was accomplished with a black sharpie and a gold paint pen, as well as Haley’s incredible handwriting skills.
Locating a few of our favorite spots on the Fillory map, we picked out some fantastic fonts online to imitate in our signage. (Helpful hint: go to dafont.com’s Celtic section, and write out the word you want to make. Print this out, and use as a reference when creating your letters.)
Write out the locations in the gold paint pen first (or if you’re feeling nervous, pencil out the letters first), and then shadow with the black sharpie and voila! You’ve got yourself some beautiful handmade signage. Hang them in your Fillorian forest to direct your guests to safety (aka the bathroom)!
Fillory Clock Entrance
Congratulations, you now have the magical land of Fillory in your home, but how does one get to it? You are going to need to create a portal. Now, there are many ways to get to Fillory, but since we couldn’t find our buttons, we decided to create the iconic grandfather clock entrance as our portal, and so can you.
Haley designed this beautiful grandfather clock, (printable coming soon) complete with ram heads, inspired by the depiction in The Magicians. Print this magnificent clock out on a large-format printer and mount it to black foam core. (You can take it to FedEx Office, if you’d like!)
You’ll notice there is no actual clock face on your grandfather clock so far. That is because we recommend printing the clock face on an 11 x 17 sheet of vellum. This will allow you to stick a puck light behind the face, so it will glow. Once you cut out the hole for the clock face, tape the vellum to the back of the clock. Print the clock hands separately on card stock and attach them with a simple brass brad. These steps will give your clock so much dimension, and make it look fancier than just a flat paper print out.
Finally, we stapled the clock to our ceiling moulding and temporarily installed a puck light in the archway of the doorframe. This managed to hit the clock in just the right place to light it up. The doorway was covered in black curtains that parted down the middle for an easy entrance to the land beyond.
Brakebills Floating Cards
No magical crafts collection would be complete without floating playing cards. (Matilda did it first.) Grab a pack of playing cards (or two) from your local dollar store. Size your Brakebills playing card backs (available here) and print them on sheets of sticker paper. The next step is to painstakingly cut each one out (a nice mindless task while rewatching Magicians episodes). Then, it’s peel-and-stick time. Plant your custom backs onto the backs of your cards and voilá, you’ve got your very own Brakebills card deck.
Finally, we installed our floating array of cards by using invisible thread, thumb tacks, tape, and trial-and-error. Notice that all of the cards that show are the face cards from both packs – an unsettling detail reminiscent of Quentin’s first spell.
Haley kept insisting to Ellie that she wanted to have floating books in the cottage. Though it took much cursing and huffing, this fun magical craft was finally realized! Haley figured out how to make the pages spread out nicely and stay that way. After choosing the lightest magical-looking books we had, it was a simple trick of running a line of hot glue down the crease between each page, and letting it cool. Have patience while you hang the books with invisible thread and push pens, since they are bound to have a mind of their own (see what we did there?). You will be rewarded with magical levitating books.
We loved the Organ featured in many of the promo shots for both seasons of the show. It’s one of the defining characteristics of the Physical Kids’ cottage, and we knew we just had to have our own version. Our organ installation was a super easy DIY, crafted with the cardboard tubes leftover from wrapping paper we used in the Fillory hallway.
As a result of our hallway carnage, we had about 15 tubes to work. First, we cut the tubes in various lengths (using both sides of the cut) and then clustered them together with hot glue in roughly the arrangement of the one in the show. A nice coppery spray paint covered the once brown tubes, and like magic (ha ha) we had a gorgeous organ! We set up the organ installation on an entry way table covered by a glittery scarf and added a large collection of pillar candles at various heights. With the candles lit, the now metallic organ reflected the light beautifully and was a nice source of light for that side of the room.
Fillory and Further Books
Of all our magical crafts, perhaps our favorite was making ourselves copies of the Fillory and Further book series. You don’t know how badly we wish the Plover book series was real, and that we owned them. But now you can have the next best thing – fake book covers that make everyone think you’ve got the real deal!
During party prep we stopped at one of Los Angeles’ treasured book stores, The Illiad in north Hollywood. They carry a magical selection of books from precious copies of Shakespeare, to manuals on obsolete technology. We could spend hours browsing their wonderful selection. While we were there, we wondered towards there dollar section to pick up some books to use as the base for our Fillory series. We ended up getting 5 Agatha Christie Novels to size our covers to.
With our book bases acquired, Haley designed the Fillory book covers based on the image of Book 1 seen on the show, and inspired by the descriptions of the books from Lev Grossman. Get a copy of yours here. These book covers are printed on 11 x 17 paper. Trim each to the size of the books you are covering, and mod-podge into place. It may work best to trim the spine out separately and apply it first, before applying the front and back covers. We’ve left extra green margin so that your covers will work with most small hardcover books.
And TADA, you’ve got yourself your own collection of Christopher Plover’s finest, and the high king of magical crafts to delight your guests.