Each year for Halloween, I try to come up with a costume that depicts a piece of me. This year, I chose Harry Dredesn. I'm a big fan of the books, and this past summer I had done some.. uh.. aggressive tree trimming, with a chain saw, and ended up with a few nice straight branches, which I thought might be good for use as a staff. I think it turned out pretty well. What makes Harry Dresden stand out from just some guy in a duster is the accessories. See, Harry is a wizard, in modern day Chicago. What makes this costume so easy to do on your own, is the type of accessories Harry carries. He has a number of tools, that are all hand crafted, by him, and enchanted to do various things. I had three major items to create. Harry's staff, his blasting rod, and his Shield bracelet. All of which are depicted in the gallery.
The staff is a pretty simple concept. In the books, Harry tells us that the staff was carved out of a branch of a tree from his old teachers property. So, the branches I cut seemed perfect. Others have used dowel rods to create Harry's staff, which look nice in the end, but I never thought looked authentic. I started by shaving all of the bark off of the branch. Then I took a hatchet, and used that to chop the end off at the length I thought was about right for me. I thought it would look more authentic than cutting it with a saw.
Then I took a propane torch, and scorched the whole staff, to give it a darkened look. Then I went over the whole thing with some rough sandpaper. I did this to clean up the burned char, because every time I touched it, my hand came away black. Once i sanded it, and wiped it down, it came out nice. It even left some of the high-spots and grain in the wood clear again, adding a really nice finish to the staff.
I had intended to carve runes into the staff, but ran out of time before the party I was going to.
Harry's blasting rod is his focus. Harry favor's fire magic, and as he says in the books, he uses the blasting rod to focus that raw power into something more control-able. When he describes his blasting rod, all I can picture is a stick, similar to his staff, but shorter, scorched to charcoal on the business end. So, I treated the blasting rod the same as the staff, except that I chopped both ends of it, at about 18". Then I went heavy on the propane torch at the business end, and then tried to taper it as I got to the handle end. Where I hold it, its almost clear. Then i tied a leather boot lace around the haft, and put a loop in it, which is something else Harry describes in the books.
The shield bracelet is, as its named, a bracelet, which Harry uses to put up a magical force field around himself. He describes it as a bracelet, with medieval shields hanging off of it. So, I found some shield charms on Etsy. I had originally planned to tie up something like a survival strap, out of Paracord, and then attach the shields to it somehow. The more I thought about it, the more I thought nylon cord wasn't Harry's style. So instead, I used one of my leather boot laces, and tied a cobra weave. I took a piece of wire and looped it into the weave to attach the shields to. You cant really see it unless you're looking for it. Then I tied a knot in one end, and had a loop in the other (as happens with a cobra weave), and boom! Shield bracelet!
I figured most people were going to have no idea who I was dressed up as. So I took one more element of the character and made it real. Harry's business cards. He's a private investigator, so of course he has business cards! That I could recall, he never outright tells you what's on his cards, so I took his yellow pages ad, and put that on the card. Then I gave the author, Jim Butcher, credit on the reverse. I think they came out really well. I printed them on card stock, and cut them apart on my own. They worked out perfect, they were the final touch that tied things together. Whenever someone said, "What are you supposed to be?" I just reached into my inside pocket and flipped them out a business card, "Harry Dresden, Wizard".
Harry wears a duster. I own a trench coat, so I wore that. He also wears a Pentacle amulet, which I couldn't find in time, so I settled for a celtic weave. It was still a circular pendant, which was good enough. He also doesn't have facial hair most of the time, and I have a goatee, so to mask that i just let my beard grow some stubble, and then trimmed it all to a relatively uniform length. Harry's usually pretty unkempt, so this worked well. It also gave me a more rugged look. Harry also has these kinetic rings. That he says, store up energy just from walking around, and then he's able to release them at will, like, when he's punching someone in the face. So I dug around and found a few simple band rings we'd collected over the years, and threw them on my right hand, my wedding band remaining on my left. Harry's not married, but I am, and I generally don't take off my ring. Even when impersonating a bachelor. In the end, I think I really pulled it off well. A friend of mine got to see the costume. He's also into the series, and in fact, got me into the series. He thought it was pretty spot-on. He also loved the business card. ;)