The 2004-2005 Stair Project

(Please note: All reference to Harry Potter is my personal interpretation of the books.  These are personal creations which are NOT for sale and are one of a kind pieces.)

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I was always slightly disappointed that Rik Pierce and I could not figure out how to create the stair illusion from Harry Potter in Hogwarts. No matter how he planned or what ideas I had, we could not incorporate stairs into the castle.  So I began to realize that the only way to create the stairs was to create them as a completely separate piece, a stand alone project. And then I met Mary Ann Stage who shared photos of her stair project with me. It was very well made and it showed me the incredible visual effect that the stairs alone can have. So there I was---off to the races!!!!   I think the best sway to show the development of the box is to use a photo gallery. I have outlined the details below. If you have questions, be sure to contact me

The Stair Photo Gallery

The cardboard model

This is the first attempt at putting the stairs together. They did fit together....sort of!

The fiberboard version

This version shows the initial layout. These peices are actually part of the finished stair box

PaperClay on gater board

The walls were completed prior to putting the swinging stairs in place. The steps on the walls were completed prior to the PaperClay.

The box reaching external completion

The finished piece

Wtih some 18 stairwells, some moving -some not, the illusion is complete.

Another angle of the finished box

The box has great detail in the insidw with 300 paintings.


The pictures give the box more depth. Some are lenticular (look like motion) and some are not. But the box looks busy!

And of course wizards (the potions wizard here)

The box is filled with wizards and witches to complete the scene. Each depicts a different story.

Potions wizard at work

Astronomy wizard

The timeless wizard

The traveling wizard

The Librarian

The Ghost

Blue Cornish Pixie

There are thousands of details in the box; shown here is just one, the Blue Cornish Pixie!


First, I planned the stairs with cardboard and masking tape. Lots of tape, lots of cardboard and lots of patience and impatience. After I was pretty sure of what I needed, I elicited  help on the basic construction elements from Earth and Tree Miniatures and Mary Ann Stage.  I asked Mary Ann Stage for help on all railing, newel posts and some doors. Mary Ann (unlike me) is a star in molds.

The walls were initially of  Gator Board. After painting, aging and surfacing the stairs, they were glued on each wall in order. I was very methodical about this as a proper fit from wall to wall was critical.

Well, once the stairs and door frames were in place, it was time for Creative PaperClay© . However, I found that the walls were warping! I contacted Rik Pierce (my Creative PaperClay© expert) who suggested that the walls were going to require some backing…hum…a dilemma…

But I was on my way and there was no stopping me. Charlie Edwards of Walnut Creek WoodShop was already in the process of making a wood box to house the 5 foot high and 2 ˝ foot deep structure. So he stepped in with a plan and  created wood backings for each wall, the ceiling and the floor.

Then, once all that was done there was only one major task left---fitting the crossover stairs into place and checking to be sure that the moving stairs moved, the walls fit snugly, that the stairs were even and that  the railings were going to work. Did I say one task left? Sounds like there might have been more than one task.

At  that point I was looking at a box with lots of stairs and no character. Since I love to create detailed  tables, small scenes and  life statements, I had a wonderful time  “decorating” the box with  a celestial wizard, a cooking witch, a sewing witch,  a traveling wizard, a potions master, an avid reading witch, a ghost,  and a keeper of the keys. 

As for the portraits… First, I  searched the internet  and found sites with small downloadable portraits of all kinds. Then I sorted through them to find the most  appropriate. In the process of creating the box I decided that I really wanted to have some of the portraits “move” so I created about 40 holographic looking portraits with lenticular   plastic.

I know for sure that I will be adding dolls, ghosts and a few other details, but for now I am content with my 20 staircases, 18 doors, 25 landings and 300 pictures.

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