If you have ever been to one of my workshops you’ve probably seen the props of some of the enchanted items that feature so prominently in Kendra Kandlestar.
I love making props; it helps brings my stories further to life—not only for my readers, but for me as well. It’s a way to kind of celebrate the adventures that dance through my head. And, of course, this is a philosophy I bring into my classroom. If we’re going to write about a magic potion, we might as well also make it (but that’s another story).
I never construct my props until after I’ve illustrated the item in question. This always causes problems—I am definitely NOT an engineer, and never draw with the practicality in mind.
For instance, if I had known that the Box of Whispers would have been so difficult to construct, I might have designed it differently! (That round top caused all sorts of problems for my dad and I when we tried to build it; on the plus side, it was great fun to drag my dad into the hardware store and then ask if they sold sparkly gold paint and little yellow stars.)
The Door to Unger was probably more work in the long run, and it’s the most heavy and cumbersome of my props. My dad helped me build it (I can’t be left alone with power tools) and then my brother took a router (I think; I may have the tool name wrong) and gouged some cracks across the surface. The end result was quite impressive, and the gateway (the mouth) actually opens and closes.
My brother then provided me with the perfect prop for Kendra’s wand, all by chance. He showed up one day with a piece of driftwood and said, “You like weird stuff and this looks like some wizard wand.” Little did he know, it looked exactly like the illustration I had already completed of Kendra’s wand. It just needed a bit of sanding into shape and then a wood stain.
As for Greeve’s shard, this came courtesy from The Crystal Ark, a.k.a. the rock shop on Granville Island, near where I live. My goddaughter, Charlotte, and I combed through the whole store until we found the perfect piece of black quartz.
The clerk was delighted to tell us all about the properties of the stone, all of which I politely listened to. Afterwards Charlotte asked my why I hadn’t just interrupted her, to which I replied, “Do you think she really wanted to know that we were buying a rock to serve as a prop for a stone of dark magical powers that will tilt the balance between an epic battle between Elves and Dwarves?”
Well, it is obvious what the prop for the fourth Kendra Kandlestar book will be — it will be the Kazah ring. I’ve been thinking about how I could make it for some time. Last summer, when I was wandering through the markets of Insa-dong in Seoul, I came across a stone that I thought would fit the bill. So I put it into my brother’s deft hands and he immediately set about to craft the most wonderful of props.
At least I think it’s wonderful! What do you think?