DIY Illuminated Staff

Staff 4It’s Halloween, you’ve got your costume, or at least your costume idea, but what’s a good costume without a worthy prop?

This holiday season is bookended by major motion pictures with staff-wielding heroes. This spring, we saw one of Disney’s best villains return in Maleficent. In December, Gandalf will make the silver screen a little greyer in the third and final Hobbit film, The Battle of Five Armies. And, of course, there are the usual staff-toting suspects – sorcerers, alchemists, higher fey, and folks who want a convenient walking aid as part of their disguise. Chances that a staff will be part of your ensemble are higher than ever.

A staff is a highly versatile prop which, with the right decoration, can blend into nearly any costume. However, since Gandalf, Maleficent, Loki, and nearly every other popular character who wields a staff are magic users, a prop worthy of being paraded with the rest of your ensemble requires something special.

Time to make things shiny.

Here’s how to make an illuminated staff on a budget.

1 – Gather your materials (and read 1.5).

  • A battery-powered light source (a stick light is optimal and can be found at nearly any major retailer).
  • PVC pipe (cut into two sections, one for the base, a shorter section slightly longer than your light source, and a two way connector).
  • Clear or faintly opaque plastic Christmas ornament (on sale now in hobby stores nationwide – alas).
  • A plastic circle (from an old tub of butter, a produce crate, etc.) cut to fit the end of your PVC pipe).
  • Hot glue or an adhesive of your choosing.
  • White craft paint.
  • Spray paint (I layered Krylon Brushed Metalic Caramel Latte over a cheap black from Lowes).
  • Decorative doo-dads.

Staff 11.5 – Find your light source first. The size of PVC pipe you need will depend on how big/what type of light you use, so have the light with you in the store when you’re looking for the PVC. I recommend a stick light like I used. The color in my staff comes from the light. If you cannot find a light in the color you desire, you will need to buy a plastic ornament in that color, or use your desired color in the paint wash from step 3.

2 – Cut your PVC pipe into the two segments described in step 1.

3 – Paint your PVC and connector with the spray paint. Be sure to paint pieces separately, because you will need to ‘open’ and ‘shut’ the staff later.

4 – While the PVC is drying, mix some of your white craft paint with water, remove any hook/end cap from your ornament, and swish the paint mix around in the plastic bulb. This will probably require several washes. Leave the ornament to dry between washes on top of the cup, open end down so excess water will drain out.

Staff 25 – Attach the plastic circle to the top of the longer piece of PVC with hot glue.

6 – Glue ornament, open side down, into the end of the shorter piece of PVC.

7 – Decorate. Decorate it all. You can also add something to the bottom of the staff if you want it to make a certain sound when it hits the ground – like metal washers or a piece of wood.

8 – Turn on the light. Put your light source in the top segment, illuminating side up. Attach the two segments with the connector.

9 – Take your staff and strut off into the night.


Staff 3Staff 5

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