For accuracy, what is your name, and about where do you live (as much as you are comfortable providing)?
My name is Bianca Van der Auwera and I am from Belgium.
How did you start getting into Harry Potter?
Good question! I suppose it happened when I got to know a friend of mine in college. He converted me to the 'geek side'! Harry Potter, Marvel, Star Trek, Pokémon... I call him my Marvelbuddy - says enough, doesn't it?! I remember at that point I'd seen all the Harry Potter movies except the last one. I've always liked the movies and that magical world. But then, finally, I watched the last movie and that is when the real addiction/passion - call it what you want - started. For me, it was a big puzzle coming altogether. It wasn't simply the magical world I liked, or the movies I found generally entertaining, now I was impressed by the whole story as well. The genius of creating so many (apparent) loss elements throughout the books/movies and perfectly bringing them all together at the end. That is pure beauty to me. Also, the 'hidden agendas' and thus complexity of some characters really spoke to me. Watching the movies I've felt happy, scared, moved, excited, angry, sad, amazed... Anything that can evoke so many different emotions inside me, is simply genius.
What inspired you to start a project? Why did you decide to make the Marauder's Map?
I think it was over summer during college. Me and my Marvelbuddy [sic] had just gone to the Harry Potter [e]xhibition in Brussels, which had given a bit new fuel to my Harry Potter addiction. Also, the Marauder's Map was exhibited there and seeing this - and all the other relics and costumes for that matter - with my own eyes was so cool! I still had a few days left until I had to start studying for my retakes so I decided to fill that time with a small project. I started looking up some info on the exact content of the Map and found a few reviews of the official replica from the Noble Collection. People compared it to the movie scenes where the Map is visible and concluded that the official replica is actually not so great. And I completely share that opinion. Besides, the 'DIY' versions that are available on the [W]eb are not at all challenging. You simply have to glue a few pages together and that's it. Other people have made their own version in which they corrected for elements inconsistent with the movie scenes, but they designed it digitally and then printed out the pages. I wanted to create a real authentic - i.e. completely handmade - version of the Map. So there was no other option than to start from scratch and make everything my own. Also, being quite a perfectionist, this was an ideal project to get my hands on.
Do you have plans to showcase it anywhere, or was it more for fun?
No, it was really all just for fun. I thought it would be a cool personal achievement if I could make this on my own. I'm already super amazed - and grateful! - by the immediate reaction and interest from MuggleNet! Even though it was just for fun, I put a lot of work into it so of course, it's nice when people enjoy the result.
You said it took over 100 hours to complete; what was the process of making this project?
So first of all I did my research. I gathered as much information as I could about the exact content of the Map. That goes from the movie scenes to the official replica, to reviews comparing these two, to the pictures of the Map I took at the Harry Potter [e]xpo. I also explicitly looked for reviews talking about 'errors' in the existing replicas. I really wanted my Map to be as accurate as possible.
After that, a bit of mathematics got involved to decide on the size of the Map. I scaled everything so that the size of the Map would be exactly one A4 sheet. That seemed like the easiest thing to do in terms of folding the pages so I had minimal work with cutting the paper into the right dimensions. That was indeed so, but other aspects included, it was not ideal because this A4 format is not an exact scaling of the true size. This can be seen, for example, with the flaps on the second page. These should be exact squares, which is not the case in my version of the Map. At first, I had a hard time dealing with this because I wanted to make everything as accurate as possible. However, I like the general size of the Map and in terms of the text, it doesn't bother me at all that the flaps are not exact squares. Besides, along the way, I realized there is no absolute 'correct' way to draw the Map since there is no place where it is entirely described or shown.
Then the perfectionist in me struggled with the color of the ink and paint. The text doesn't appear to be really black, and also the painted areas on the front and inner page are rather brownish. I visited a few shops looking for the exact right ink and paint but found nothing that matched my (high) requirements. So for the text, I used the classic black Stabilo pens, and for the painted areas I settled for a dark red color.
Once I had my drawing equipment, I could actually start creating the Map. I used coffee and plain white paper to create the pages that look like parchment. Folding, cutting en gluing them together seemed like the easiest part but that wasn't so! You have to stay focused and keep thinking at every step or before you know it, there is just one page that is a few millimeters short and you have to start over! (Yes, this actually happened...) I also paid specific attention as to how to glue the pages together so that none of the glued borders would be visible on the inside of the Map. Later in the drawing phase, I found out I still failed to do this on one page!
At this point, I could finally start drawing. I started with the front page which I enjoyed the most because it had a lot of different aspects to it: measuring and sketching things first, drawing and painting the castle, drawing the curly ribbon at the top, the bigger font size of the title and then the smaller text making up Whomping Willow and the bottom of the page. Before actually drawing, I'd always sketch the geometry of the page with a pencil first, along with a few more difficult parts. Due to the 'scaling problem', this was not always a smooth process. For the inner page, I relied on the [sic] artistic freedom, and I used ['T]he Tale of the Three Brothers['] as text for the corridor lines and magical spells to fill up the space. This is really the personal touch to my own version of the Map. Regarding the parts of the Map that are shown in the movies, I must have watched those scenes a thousand times to make sure I've got every letter right. In the end, however, I did take a bit of freedom when things were not perfectly visible in the movies. For that same reason, i.e. lack of complete and clear information, I did not include the extra page(s) that appear in the Halfblood Prince and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2.
In the end, this could definitely be done way quicker, if one wouldn't be such a perfectionist about it. I really thought about every page, every line, every letter before actually creating or drawing it. But for me, that was the essence of the project and maybe that's also why I get so many compliments about the result - because it can be seen that every part is done with a lot of attention, care, and love!
Was there any part of the map that was particularly hard to make?
Hmm, not really I think. The hardest part is knowing you cannot make any mistake because you can't simply start over. I mean, you can, but it takes so much time and effort that starting over is not really an option. At some pages, the 'scaling problem' was a bit more challenging though. There I had to decide whether to squeeze things together or to cut in the content. I picked the latter because the text that is now missing on that page can be seen on one of the other pages. And squeezing would've made that page look ugly and would've been inconsistent with the rest of the Map.
Do you plan on starting any other Harry Potter projects?
The Marauder's Map was for me the coolest and most straightforward thing to make of my own. Since this took me quite a while, I don't see myself starting another project any time soon haha. But maybe in the future, yeah, definitely! I love creating and making things from scratch and often these projects are related to my geek interests, including Harry Potter.
Do you have a favorite Harry Potter book or movie?
Hmm, not really, but if I had to choose I'd say the Prisoner of Azkaban or the Halfblood Prince. In general, I prefer the later movies (except for the Goblet of Fire) because they are a bit darker and the story gets more complex as it unfolds and unravels different parts and aspects of the bigger picture. I simply love the way everything is building up so nicely to finally come together in the epic Battle of Hogwarts that makes you want to jump in your tv and join the fight. It gets hard sometimes to describe objectively what I like about Harry Potter since I'm one of these people who already gets excited at the opening theme when the Warner Bros logo comes on.
What is your Hogwarts House?
Ohh this is an easy question: I'm a proud Hufflepuff!!! 💛🖤
Is there anything else you'd like to add about your project?
I really enjoyed this project and I'm very satisfied with the end result. Since I've put a lot of work and effort into it, it's nice that other people enjoy it too. If you have a creative side to your personality, I can definitely recommend starting a personal project like this. It's a nice kind of therapy (even though also very frustrating sometimes haha) and the whole process is just really interesting and meaningful. It's very stimulating and the satisfaction once you complete it, is so worth it!