Daniel Fleuriel is not a “book person,” he says. And yet, the “Harry Potter” series that has inspired countless children has led Fleuriel into a new chapter in his own life: wandmaking.
Fleuriel, a Buckland resident, is chief operator of the Shelburne Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility for the past 34 years, and also a talented woodworker. He crafted a gavel for the town moderator and “is affectionately referred to as ‘MacGyver,’ of television series fame, as he can fix just about anything with the most unusual parts and pieces that he just happens to have on hand in his shop,” according to the town’s annual report in 2012, which was dedicated to him.
On Thursday, Fleuriel lent a hand at the Buckland Recreation Area’s summer camp, to produce wooden wands for children attending the final day of “Harry Potter Week.”
The first of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling was published 1997, but Fleuriel didn’t start reading them until the third book was about to be published. That’s when he picked up “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” to see what the buzz was all about.
“I’m not a reader — I’m not a book person, but I got four pages into it, and I couldn’t stop,” Fleuriel said. “I was hooked by the first one.”
After that, Fleuriel read the second book, and by the time the third came out, Fleuriel was ready for Boswell’s Book’s midnight sale and release party of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”
Fleuriel said he knew people would be coming in costume, and thought it would be fun to come to the party with a handmade wand.
After that, he made a wand to give his niece as a Christmas gift. Then he made more wands for his sister and her four daughters.
“I started making them for sale, because people were hearing about them by word of mouth,” he said.
Fleuriel’s wands are natural looking and free of ornamentation. An internet search on “Harry Potter wands” and dozens of websites will appear with a variety of wands to be made out of everything from chopsticks to paper.
Fleuriel’s wands are made of all kinds of wood, shaped and buffed to show off wood grain and gnarls. Some are made of exotic woods, including black palm wood and olive wood, while others are made of cedar, hickory and cherry. They are sanded as smooth as glass and finished with a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil, so the beauty of the natural wood comes through.
The wand tips contain something serving as a Harry Potter fantasy object — “a hippogriff feather” or a “unicorn hair.” After the object is inserted into the tip, Fleuriel finishes by sealing the core with a matching piece of wood, like a plug.
Some are notched for each finger to grip the handle. The ones that Fleuriel makes come with papers, printed in a Harry Potter font, explaining what kind of wood was used, how to keep it in good condition, and he tells a story about the wand or the core. Fleuriel said he sells the wands for $30 to $80, depending on what kind of wood is used and on how long it took to make.
But mostly, he does it for fun. “I’ve always got my eye out, looking for an interesting piece of wood on the roadside or in a pile,” he said.
Fleuriel’s “wand papers” reveal his extensive knowledge of the Potter series. He had read and reread the entire book series, sometimes finding new information he missed in the first reading.
“The Harry Potter movies are really good, but they really don’t stand up to the books, which have much more detail,” he said. “I’ve certainly gotten my investment back in enjoyment.”
For information about the wands, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org