As we lead up to the Mini Maker Faire November 5-6, we’re spotlighting several Makers who will be presenting at the event during the Meet the Makers session. Today we meet Jeff Pepper, a bookseller at Barnes & Noble in Winston-Salem, NC, a Harry Potter book and film enthusiast who has been able to combine this interest with his passion for crafting replica film props.
What is replica prop crafting?
It is essentially creating and building items inspired by objects and props that appear in various media such as films, television, books and comics. It can range from fantasy weapons and guns that are used for cosplay to movie prop replicas such as the Quidditch brooms used in the Harry Potter films. Projects can be as simple as creating a label for a potion bottle to more complicated endeavors that require extensive wood and/or metalworking.
How and when did you first become interested in this hobby?
As a teenager, one of my favorite hobbies was model-building, especially kits that related to science fiction media such as Star Trek and Star Wars. Throughout my adult life, I’ve occasionally revisited the hobby. Then recently, my love for the Harry Potter books and movies inspired me to create some Wizarding World ephemera that we actually used at our store’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child release party. We created potion bottles, brooms, Daily Prophet newspapers and Gilderoy Lockhart books, just to name a few. Shortly thereafter, I began creating my own custom-designed Harry Potter wands.
So you are somewhat new to the crafting of replica props?
Yes, very much so. The wands I worked on introduced me to numerous crafting techniques and tools that I had had very little experience with. With my model-building, I was strictly a glue and paint guy, but replica crafting forced me to learn how to work with various power tools and more advanced painting techniques. I’m most certainly still operating at a novice level, but I’m taking on more challenging projects as I move forward in the hobby.
How does your hobby relate to the Maker Movement?
Even though what I typically make is based on already existing items from various sources, I’m handcrafting my projects from the bottom up, using recycled items, hardware supplies and craft store paraphernalia. For instance, the Harry Potter wands I created were comprised of various components such as paint brushes, candleholders and drawer pulls.
What has been your most favorite project so far?
I just finished a retro-style ray gun that I really enjoyed creating from the ground up. I was inspired by the Dr. Grordbort designs created by Weta Workshop designer Greg Broadmore. It was a lot of hard work but it was really fun to do.
Describe your upcoming session at the Mini Maker Faire.
I plan on displaying two of my current projects, another Harry Potter wand that I am custom designing for a good friend, and a second retro ray gun. They are currently both works in progress that will allow me to showcase the use of recycled and “found” objects, and demonstrate some of my building and tool techniques.
Will you join us at your local Barnes & Noble for the Maker Faire? We would love to see you and your family there. Learn more details here!