writes copy 30 Oct 2017

Seattle Dad Recreates Harry Potters Diagon Alley at Home Complete with 3D Printed Props

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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.”

Jon, Jennifer, Haley and Avery Chambers stand in Diagon Alley at their Seattle home.

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].”

3D printed scissors at Madam Malkin's.

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.

“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.

[Image: Jon Chambers via Instagram]

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.”

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.”

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