Kevin Brady doesn’t have any magical powers; he’s merely skilled at the craft of making wands, such as the one he’s making out of ebony
Kevin Brady doesn't have any magical powers; he's merely skilled at the craft of making wands, such as the one he's making out of ebony wood, above. (Mark Leffingwell/Daily Camera)
If you go

What: Fifth, sixth or seventh annual (no one can remember) Magic Wand Making Workshop with esteemed wand-maker Kevin Brady

When: Noon-3 p.m. Oct. 27

Cost: Free. All materials provided (wooden pegs, a dowel, plastic beads). Young wand enthusiasts will learn the steps of wandcraft and leave with their own new magic stick.

Where: Boulder Arts and Crafts Gallery, 1421 Pearl St., Boulder

Info: 303-443-3683, boulderartsandcrafts.com, acmewandsupply.com

You have to chase the magic into the mountains just past Lyons, along slender, serpentine roads, deep inside a gulf of glowing yellow Aspens. On the peak of modest hill, or maybe it's just a driveway graded for rain (but that lacks certain drama), perches the dusty, brown workshop. Don't wear white. You never know what will be floating in the air out here. Sawdust from ancient trees. Sparks. Unspeakable mysteries.

This is the chamber of one of the few professional wand-makers in the galaxy (probably; it takes multiple lifetimes to get the requested Freedom Of Information Act report back to solidify the fact-checking).

Kevin Brady used to be a carpenter. As the tale goes, he was selling desk accessories on consignment at the Boulder Arts and Crafts Gallery about 15 years ago when he was approached by a European man with one gray eye, maybe two. His name consisted of a bunch of Ls, Ns and Ws. Lewellen maybe? In an unidentifiable British Isles accent, he asked Brady, "Have you every considered doing anything other than this?"

Brady asked, "What do you mean?"

Making a wand is no easy task, as evidenced by the effort Kevin Brady put into this ornately carved handle.
Making a wand is no easy task, as evidenced by the effort Kevin Brady put into this ornately carved handle. (Mark Leffingwell/Daily Camera)

The man did not answer. Instead, he handed Brady his card and mysteriously said, "The next time you're in Wales, look me up."

As it happened, within six months and on a total whim, Brady and his wife ended up going to England on vacation. Brady took a side trip and visited the man, who was a famous wand-maker and taught Brady the craft and forever transformed the pathway of his life.

Or, as the real (and much less exciting) story goes: Brady sold wooden dip pens and one day looked at one and thought, "Hmm, if this had a handle, this would be a wand."

He prefers the former story.

It's been 15 years, and Brady has since created more than 2,000 one-of-a-kind wands. His business, Acme Wand Supply, is his full-time job, and it boasts a few claims to fame. He says a few "Harry Potter" actors own an Acme wand. (Malfoy, aka Tom Felton, and "the guy who gets blown up all the time;" he can't remember who and the autograph on his shop door is too sloppy, but I'm thinking Neville Longbottom.)

And the prop-master from Disney's "Wizard of Oz" remake, "The Wizard," slated for release in March and starring James Franco and Mila Kunis, recently ordered six wands.

The magic sticks are elaborate and start at $175, and each seems to carry its own energy -- or so Brady's been told. He is no sorcerer himself.

Acme Wand Supply in Lyons is home to the custom wands Kevin Brady has created.
Acme Wand Supply in Lyons is home to the custom wands Kevin Brady has created. (Mark Leffingwell/Daily Camera)

"Making a wand is like making a hammer. It doesn't make you a carpenter," he says, even though his personal collection tops 70. "I'm not a practitioner, although they make great back-scratchers."

He sells wands to Wiccans as ceremonial objects, as well as educators and therapists; a cancer care facility recent bought one to help treat patients, Brady says.

Every Halloween, he says he gets a giant order from Salem, Mass. Other people love the beautiful details, or the idea of owning a unique kind of sculpture.

He claims he has also outfitted some of the world's most powerful and prestigious wizards. Unfortunately, he can't reveal their identities. Confidentiality. You know.

Brady makes his wands by hand out of exotic hardwoods, sterling silver (with the occasional gold detail), precious and semiprecious stones, crystals, abalone, African rosewood, horn, ebony, elk antler, 25,000-year-old Kauri wood from New Zealand -- the list goes on. If you can show a valid wizard's license or a 12-year degree from an accredited school of the arcane arts, you can order a wand with a phoenix feather.

"There's nothing else to compare them to," Brady says. "You can go online and get a Harry Potter wand made out of resin in China, and there's another hundred thousand just like it."

He says he's "not impressed" with the other handmade wands he has found online.

"Not to say they're not effective as wands, but my feeling is, it works better if it's pretty," he says.