Building an apprentice’s spell kit

I’m currently working as an artist in residence at a local centre, focusing on some art therapy projects with a group of teens. I don’t normally work with that age group (my books are for a lot younger kids), but the organizer was looking for something a little different and thought I would be a good fit.

Rather than working in the traditional fine arts (painting, sculpting, etc.), I’m leading the group in an exploration of characters through prop building and costume design. This is similar to a recent residency I did at an Elementary school, except this particular project involves fewer participants and some more elaborate projects.

One of things I want to do in particular is have each participant design a character survival kit. I was inspired to do this after a visit to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum on Jeju Island in Korea. There they had on display a “vampire killing kit.” At the time, my wife said building such a kit would make for a great class activity—and she was right!


So, I decided to build one myself to test out the project. My kit is for a character in a book I’m writing—the character in question is an apprentice wizard and her spell kit includes various items that are particularly important to her.

I found the box at the craft store, added some specific adornments and then painted it to look like it’s been through the wringer.


As for the stuff inside, well, I gathered it from all over the place and spent hours painting, concocting, and gluing. Once I was satisfied with the contents, I lined the box with floral foam and wedged everything inside. Here’s the result:


Of course, one of the fun parts of such a project is coming up for all the labels for each item in the box. Here’s a list of my contents:

1: Ring of Whispering
(for contacting the apprentice’s master)

2. Jellied Eye
(plucked from a Revellian monkey)

3. Key
(unlocks Master’s book of Charms & Spells ~ this is a duplicate, made in secret)

4. Fingernails (clipped from a Gresswydian girl, aged 12)

5. Blood (syphoned from an Allegrian princess)

6. Ash (scooped from the nest of a Morindian fire dragon)

7. Venom (extracted from a Snardassian ice snake)

8. Cursing Dust (stolen from the ancient tomb of a mummified queen of Dossandros)

9. Fang (taken from a Zelantean wolf)


* * *

I hope the participants will have as much fun making their kits as I did. I can imagine all sorts of kits being developed: Zombie Survival Kit, Steampunk Engineer Tool Kit, Robot Maintenance Kit . . . you name it!