There’s nothing I like more than a good 3D printed Harry Potter project, and Seattle tech veteran and father of the year Jon Chambers is taking DIY to the next level with a large recreation of Diagon Alley – a shopping area for wizards in London that is inaccessible to Muggles (non-magic folk) thanks to its concealment behind a secret brick wall. Chambers has a background in illustration, along with experience in painting, woodwork, and construction framing. He was most recently a developer, and the director of design, at OpenCar, a Seattle startup that was acquired by Washington traffic analytics company INRIX, but decided to step away from his 9-5 and focus on his passion project instead.
“My 18 months was up. We were leaving things in a good place for INRIX to take over and continue the work that we were doing. Really what I love to do is build products in that startup environment. So this is kind of a creative refresh project for me before I start my new thing,” Chambers explained to GeekWire.
“I’ve always wanted to do something massive for Halloween or Christmas. I was born the day before Halloween, and October is like my power month. So I decided to quit my job and focus on this crazy thing.”
The Chambers family – Jon, his wife Jennifer, and daughters Avery, 7, and Haley, 11 – have lived in their single-story brick home for 20 years. Chambers has remodeled the family home over those two decades, but focused on more traditional updates until he started thinking about recreating Diagon Alley in their driveway earlier this year.
Chambers said, “Obviously I loved the movies when they came out, and when they came out the girls weren’t born yet, I don’t think. It seems like there’s a resurgence of Harry Potter. For two years now the girls have been obsessing over Harry Potter. Everybody’s having Harry Potter birthdays and there’s Diagon Alley in London and Universal Studios [The Wizarding World].”
He’s using his LulzBot 3D printer, his wood shop, and his love of sketching to create six Diagon Alley storefronts in his driveway – Eeylops Owl Emporium, Flourish and Blotts bookshop, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Magical Menagerie, Ollivander’s wand shop, and Quality Quidditch Supplies. Chambers only got started a few weeks ago, but thanks to the numerous volunteers and friends who have helped with the construction process or donated supplies, he should be finished by Halloween tomorrow.
To really bring Diagon Alley to life, Chambers is 3D printing various props for the project, like lanterns and a Hogwarts crest, and is making digital paintings for each shop window, to illuminate a “different perspective within.”
“It’s taken on a life of its own! I’ve been blown away at how many people have stopped by to help and donate. I had no idea it would be this big,” said Jennifer, the Director of Fund Administration and Operations at Madrona Venture Group.
Neighbor Bill Dunnell, who donated shingles and completed the roof work for the project, said, “I think it’s crazy. I love it. He posted the notice on Facebook. I felt like saying, ‘This is a waste of money and time and effort … when do we get started?!'”
Other friends are helping to dress the set, so to speak, and there will even be actors on hand for the grand opening of the Diagon Alley recreation on Halloween – Chambers will play half-giant Hagrid, while one of his daughters will be Ginny Weasley; he even has a friend coming who is “just a dead ringer for Harry Potter.”
Chambers plans on leaving the Diagon Alley recreation up in the driveway through Christmas, and hopes that visitors who come to check it out will also find it in their hearts to offer donations for a cause unrelated to Harry Potter – the first CEO at startup incubator Madrona Venture Labs and co-founder of startup Mighty AI, Matt Bencke, was an acquaintance of the family, and passed away earlier this month.
“The girls were really touched by his story, and they were really curious about this disease, pancreatic cancer that he had, and why can’t it be cured. That was their choice for the cause, to donate any proceeds that we get,” Chambers said about his daughters.
Once he’s finished with his Diagon Alley project, which has really turned into an awesome community project, Chambers said that until he finds another exciting startup opportunity, he’ll continue “doing his creative thing.”
“I’ve thought it would be cool to do a Millennium Falcon,” Chambers said. “On the roof.”
If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of Seattle, go check out the Diagon Alley recreation, and all of the 3D printed parts and props, at the Chambers home. You can also see more project photos on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.
What do you think of this cool DIY project? Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.[Source: GeekWire / Images: Kurt Schlosser/GeekWire, unless otherwise noted]