-=Same Team. Different Ways=-
I receive many emails and questions during the day about products, wood profiles and pairing, amongst a variety of other Wand related things. And one question has come up often enough over the past few years- what is the difference between a Wandmaker and a Wandsmith? I think I do have the experience and have been around long enough to help provide some answers on this from my own background. It may depend on who you ask or who is present in the conversation and as outlined quickly in my recent social media post, how many feathers you would like to ruffle. But let’s be honest- it is a valid question I get asked and there are some simple answers to clarify this. I used the term Wandmaker for years, more so on social media for a very simple and blunt reason…… there was already a hashtag for it that people searched for. That’s it. Exciting right? But during that time, I was always and am, a Wandsmith. I will now attempt to very briefly explain some aspects...
Some of the fine or not so fine details- Wandmakers are, nearly all of the time, making wands because of Harry Potter. They saw it. They loved it. They saw an opportunity and they went for it. And you know what, I have seen some amazing work from those who are completely and utterly devoted to the Wizarding World. Some of the recreations are spot on to the originals used in the movies. Those that may not recreate anything will still carry some of the fun with whimsical descriptions of the wands that are inspired from the books and movies. However. Wandsmiths are not creating because of Harry Potter. I have been around before Potter hit the pages and I can definitely say that Potter has been both a blessing and a curse. This is typically the first distinction between the two. Wandmakers will create with another world in mind, and Wandsmiths will create with this one in mind. Because of this, some Wandsmiths that I have known will carry a negativity towards Potter and what this fandom has done (or not) to their own craft, as well as what leads us to the next point.
The whimsical descriptions of woods seen in literature or social media… although fun and attempting to recreate some of the movie magic, are sometimes incredibly far from the truth. This is a fact that I know drives Wandsmiths bonkers. The main reason for this- education- One of the fundamental reasons for difference and I am really attempting to not sound preachy with this one. Wandmakers (again generally speaking), will make one or two here and there in a week perhaps and make a great posting for it on how springy or un-yielding the wood is with whatever hair of a mythical creature is inside. Or attempt to provide such a profile of a wood that is completely “fake news” (too soon?). Wandsmiths will spend their years actually studying the real world metaphysical properties, interviewing those around the world, meeting one on one, providing consults to individuals, covens, groups or whomever would like a wood that will properly pair with their own personality or needs or completing a balance…. Not because it’s the wood that Luna Lovegood had and I like her style. Which I do.. but that’s another topic. And… to say something against this as a Wandsmith…. Sometimes we just need to lighten the heck up. I can make many in a day and devote full time hours to my own business however sometimes I get a nice chuckle or a “that’s cool” moment when reading descriptions I see online. There are Wandmakers though that will know this fact and refer a customer to a Smith for the reason of a proper pairing.
Wood properties and education are a huge component. But also styling and sticking to a genre of this. Wandmakers will add many different things to their wands including paints, dyes, glue, chop sticks, lots of glue, sparkles, crystals, acrylic handles or shafts, more paints and more glue. And sometimes… it looks amazing! Wandsmiths, especially those that are in the camp of Fine (which I will speak from a few decades of experience on) will not use the above, especially Acrylicif properties are being considered. The acrylic will make the wood itself null and void. In essence- killing any energies to be worked with.
For Wandsmiths there is normally a focus on natural items such as crystals or stones which will, yes, need some sort of bonding source. We will also add some metals, such as cuffs of copper where the handle and shaft join or in the pommel end but this is normally for certain woods and not all (depending on the natural properties of the wood and the consequence of effect from paring with the metals own vibration). I will never use paints or dyes but will alter colouring with either a natural pigment or through oil manipulation with heat. Fine wands will also have a more distinct set of features with the parts of the wand noticeable. This is due to the majority of practioners either following the existing beliefs of what the pommel, handle, shaft and tip carry or simply the overall design look. Although Wandmakers tend to not focus on this too much depending on their own style, sometimes there are many similarities on this topic. Then there are those who only will use a crystal wand and create those. However I’m sorry. Unless you source, cut, grind and finish that crystal wand, you are not a wandmaker, just a wand-re-seller. And revisiting.
I think that for both Wandmakers and Wandsmiths there are many common ground points that deserve to be explored more in future posts. I’ll leave actually on a negative- knock off character replica’s and their cost. If only I had a dollar for everytime I was asked about a plastic replica… This is definitely a common ground frustration at Comicons and the like for both Makers and Smiths in the long standing fight against plastic wands. I love to use the spell “Expecto-no-petroleum” towards those folks. But I digress.
So, what are your thoughts? There are many other details to consider and this is a quick skim of the surface. In the end, keep in mind regardless if the Maker is a very casual artisan or if the Smith is a full-timer, there is a love of the overall craft!
Master Wandsmith of