Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Seymore with Whiskers, Fairy Door

Finally Got Seymore Whiskered and Made my Fairy House Door

In searching for the perfect nylon monofilament to use for Seymore's whiskers, I found one of the children's baby brushes in a junk drawer. I had considered YLI's monofilament 'invisible thread' but it seemed entirely too thin and the fishing line I was familiar with seemed too strong. Besides, all of the 16-year-old's, Ben's, was neon colored. (Don't you think the fish would get wise?) So, I cut strands from the brush and voila! Whiskers.
He is seen here with the fairy door I made from various blues in polymer clay mixed with some white. I first laid down the aluminum wire mesh used for shaping in the shape of the door on my tile and then ran blue and white polymer clay through the pasta machine to mix and then increased the setting to get it about 1/8" thick. I cut those with a ruler and blade and laid them on the mesh. I cooked one side and then made the other. I also brushed them with blue and violet pastels and Pearl Ex powder. After all of this work, Jerry and Maggie said what a putrid color of blue it is but Joanna, who is nine and more in tune with the tastes of fairies, said she liked it so I'm going with her opinion on this. Ben, 16, did not weigh in.
Now for the door knocker and latches. I love just about everything SP Miniatures carries. With my Christmas money last year, I bought some things for my dream log home in miniature. At this point, I may as well wish for a life sized log home in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Wait a minute--I already do wish for a life sized log home in Maggie Valley!!!! But with Maggie headed to Wofford College in about a week and all other living expenses we have going on, I just have to collect my stuff to go in it and hope one day I will own one in miniature. I showed many of my SP Miniatures acquisitions from last Christmas here and in my Flickr album where I am the Carolina Quilter. I was very proud of the Jeanetta Kimbell bear hall tree and the Taller Targioni (sp.) skis which I was smugly proud to see had a "SOLD" label on them after I bought them. Made me feel all special and important. I wanted to be able to put a foot note on them saying, "Purchased by miniature collector and artisan, Jody Raines, blah, blah, blah. . ." haha.
I ordered this Colonial/Tudor door knocker and latch from SP Miniatures. And, of course, I just had to have these very reasonably priced pear and blackberry platters to go in my dream home.

Oh, and I might add that I found cottage latches from Hobby Builders Supply that I would like to order next and Seymore and the fairy door are photographed in front of an antique textile shuttle I bought at a local antique mall. We live in the south where textiles were king and Inman, where I have lived all of my married life, 23 years, was home to Inman Mills which manufactured textiles but, like most textile mills, has been greatly diminished in size and output due to overseas outsourcing.

And to my pal, Beth, who will share the witch's cottage with me, I am waiting for Jerry to have time to cut the chimney opening on the back roof and reinforce the first floor before finishing. I know: Halloween is a coming! I'm on it!!!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seymore the Mouse

This is Seymore Mouse Who Will Live in the Fairy House SceneAfter searching in vain for a little mouse who had been eternally preserved by a taxidermist, I decided to sculpt one for my fairy house scene. Who knew people who are into taxidermy don't generally go for mice??? Anyway, here he is 'nekkid' as we say in the Southern USA. I went all over Hobby Lobby and Micheal's and called a local bead shop, Horse Feathers in Campobello and no one had 6 mm round jet black glass beads. And when I get something on my mind, it becomes an obsession. I was bound and determined to finish this little sculpt I started I think Saturday night--before I sang a solo in church Sunday, the girls and I started monumental housework and we baled hay Sunday afternoon. So, I had these not-quite-round black glass beads at the shop so used them embedding them into the clay so that the rounded part protruded.
I wish I had sculpted him so that he was holding his tail and yet, as a novice sculptor, I was just glad the clay covered wire didn't fall off during the baking.
So, last night after Joanna and I spent all day finishing the downstairs cleaning, I flocked and furred him. The white flocking is alpaca and the body fur is a heathered wool yarn. I had colored him with chalk pastels and a paint brush so the pink shows through on his ears and tail.
While he is by far not 'perfect', I love him and I consider him the very best I could do at this point. Oh, and he is named Seymore because after I posted him 'nekkid' on some of my Yahoo Groups including Dream Dwellings and Merry Mini Makers, Doc Patty suggested he needed a name. I looked up some popular pet names on my laptop and the girls, Maggie, Joanna, and I decided he should be named Seymore.
Now all he needs is whiskers and for me to finish the fairy house which seems to be yet another work in progress which is taking eons longer for me to do because of work, laundry, a modicum of mothering and the least amount of cooking, laundry and housework I can do. So, for whiskers??? Do I use 'invisible' monofilament thread or fishing line?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Few Must Have's for the Fairy House

There are a Few Must Have's for the Fairy Tree Stump House I was able to find some sources for dried and unmounted insects and butterflies on the web like this beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. This photo is by Momba on Flickr and a beautiful photo indeed with this particular Swallowtail on cherry blossoms.
This Blue Skimmer dragonfly, as photographed by macropoulos on Flickr, is another commonly seen insect in our area. I think the fairy house needs a butterfly or two and in my poem, the fairies lasso dragonflies so we need a blue skimmer as well. Now, I could capture these two with a net and something called a 'killing jar' but I don't have the heart for it. And just like I had pet chickens but wouldn't have slaughtered them for the world, I do like to eat chicken and I do want dragonflies and butterflies for my fairy house. I won't personally kill the insects around me but I will purchase them freeze dried, or however they preserve them, from someone who is a professional in that field. I found a site in Arkansas,, owned by Paul in Little Rock. For a mere $20, I can get a blue skimmer and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail sent to me via the US Post. I was admittedly dazzled by the various exotic butterflies and insects and may yet decide that the remains of Mr. Swallowtail and Mr. Skimmer need to spend their preserved eternities with the remains of some shimmery opalescent blue beauty from Peru or the Phillipines but since this fairy house is theoretically to be found in my own native woodlands, I don't guess that would be quite in keeping with 'reality' (pardon the irony), would it?
I also would love to add in a field mouse, a bird and maybe another little woodland critter. This is not a real field mouse if you can believe it. He is a mouse who sprung from the imagination and immense talent of Michelle Bradshaw of He is Cinderella's mouse and is made from polymer clay with real fur of some sort. Having attempted several small critters in polymer clay and having fallen far short of the mark in every regard, I looked all over the web for taxidermy mounts of mice and small birds. It seems everyone wants big game and noble birds of prey. And fearing that this, yet another flight of fancy of mine, would end up costing more than our meager budget for such things allows, Jerry suggested I try to sculpt them. Then, too, there is the question of whether preserved real songbirds (which may even be illegal to stuff and mount??) and mice would both scare and repulse small children and bring the wrath of PETA down on my head. All I want is a beautiful, fantastical fairy house with a critter tableau--not to create a political ruckus and I myself love animals. As a child, I used to cry when the theme song of Lassie came on knowing that soon that accident-prone Timmy would fall into a well or into the path of an oncoming car or get lost in the woods or something and poor Lassie would have to risk life and limb yet again to save the little towhead.

So, now I have to try to sculpt a mouse that looks mouse-like and not like a mouse who may have been smushed under a vehicle and put back together by Dr. Frankenstein. And then I have to try to fur it without it looking like it found itself over a subway grate or was half-drowned in a bucket of carwash solution. And let's not even go to my attempting a bird???? Hmmmmm.........

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Fairy Tree Stump House

Progress So Far on my Fairy Tree Stump HouseHere is the fairy tree stump house in its radiant glory. It consists of two layers of chicken wire tapering upward and is a little over two feet high. Between those layers I put cotton batting and then glued strips of newspaper soaked in water, glue and corn starch.
Last night, I cut the door and windows out and reinforced the edges with painter's tape. A word about masking tape--buy the good stuff. This lighter tape you see is from a local dollar store and is not worth the $2 it cost. I could have done better with spit and Kleenex. So, it's to the hardware store today for decent tape.
This fairy chair, I'm afriad is too large for the house. Though I wasn't strictly trying to adhere to 1:12th scale here, this is more like 1:6th scale. I love it and am pretty proud of it as my first excursion into 'furniture building' and I don't have many more purple silk flowers like this but it may be too big for the fairy house?!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Building a Fairy House

Building a Fairy House

I can't even give a reasonable explanation for my extended absence this spring and summer. You always think you'll have plenty of time to blog and I always think that magically, I'll have all of this extra time to do what I want to do in the summer despite working full time plus, three children, etc., etc.. I have been working on some mini's, somehow signed up for several swaps and have piddled with the witch's cottage, my little planting shed/shop and Jerry built a framework for my fairy house from chicken wire. And I've been pretty active in many of the mini Yahoo Groups and CDHM, Custom Dollhouses and Miniatures. There have been a few upheavals professionally speaking but so far, we have all survived the summer intact and two of my dibs have been registered for school once more, Ben in the 11th and Joanna in the 4th grades. Maggie moves into Wofford College August 26th and I'm just crossing that 'she's out of here forever' bridge when I get to it. So, I hope to be back to this blog on a more consistent basis.

I would love to take credit for this gorgeous fairy house but unfortunately, I did not make this. You can see more information on it at

This is Moss Haven and it's exactly like what I want to do with the fairy house I am attempting to build.

This is a pix of some fairy furniture I got from the web but I can't think from where just now so sorry to the maker. I'll try to find you and give you credit. I think you are on Webshots.
Moss Haven lit up:
Now this I did make. It's a quilted fairy house made from batiks, yarn, poly, rayon and metallic threads, lots of interfacing and batting and beads.
One reason that compelled me to get back to my blog is that I hope to exhibit the big fairy house when it is completed. On my 'day off' Monday, after carting my Dad around to get his car fixed, I did manage to get some paper mache on the chicken wire structure and now plan to reinforce that with wide masking tape before putting Creative Paperclay on the sides and inside as the walls. Every time Hobby Lobby and Michael's have a sale, I go in and dutifully buy another package of Creative Paperclay. I'm just hoping and praying that having put a layer of batting between the two layers of chicken wire, covering all of that with paper mache consisting of strips of newspaper soaked in glue, water and cornstarch and then coverd liberally with masking tape will make a sturdy enough base for the Paperclay which can get a bit heavy.

Anyway, I'm envisioning encasing the whole kit and caboodle under a plexiglass box and on a framework base. I've collected various things including oyster and other shells from Myrtle Beach where we went on spring break, pine cones from around our upstate SC home, pebbles, glass pebbles, twigs, and various 'found' objects. So, in my elaborate plans for this as-yet-unbuilt fairy abode, I would love to offer it for exhibit at our local county library and/or the Gibbs Cultural Arts Museum and/or the Spartanburg Art Council building or, frankly, anywhere remotely interested in showing it for a while--not that I'm normally given to visions of grandiosity where my creative endeavors are concerned but I figure if it turns out half decently after putting all the work in it that it will require, somebody besides my poor long-suffering husband and family are going to by gosh look at it! And in that spirit and toward that end, I also thought it would be great to publish a little booklet telling about it and include some poetry about fairies. So, I went searching all over the web for historical fairy poems. None quite fit the exact look and elements I want to include so, not exactly being a poet laureate of our region, I wrote my own. And I have shared it with two groups. And not that it is the greatest piece of poetry ever penned but we all know how things get 'borrowed' and then others take credit for things--and you know what I be talkin' about.

So, I'm posting it here and declaring while only mediocre, at least original and my own piece of work:

I was walking in the woods one day

Along a newfound path

When I stumbled upon a grey tree stump

Almost hidden amongst trees and tall grass.

The thing that caught my eye that day

Was a little flash of blue

And not the blue of Robin’s eggs

But a darker, more vibrant hue.

Under the evergreen bough

On this little door of blue

Was a tiny little gold door knob

And miniscule latches, too.

With unbelieving eyes, I took

Just a few steps more

And then discerned among the ivy

That it was indeed a little door!

And windows there were there as well

Along the stump’s curved side

But moss, leaves, stones and flowers

Cleverly hid the mystery inside.

Crouching ever nearer to peer

Inside this magical bower

I saw small chairs of twigs

And branch beds under canopied flowers.

Oyster shells formed tiny steps;

Walnut hulls were swings,

Acorn cups made tiny bowls

That held small edible things.

A bird’s nest was a soft day bed;

And holding a bit of water,

A small dried gourd served just as well

As the vessel of a potter.

Throughout this hidden magic house

From the top floor to the ground

Was sprinkled glittering fairy dust,

Sparkling, shimmering all around.

But possibly most astonishing

Of all the things I spied

Was a cache of all the lost human things

The inhabitants could hope to hide.

Spilling out of a small open box

In the deepest recess of this home

Was an amazing array of treasures,

Buttons, coins, papers. . . and even a jeweled comb.

There was a ring someone had forever lost

And a silver skeleton key;

Brooches, hair clasps and hatpins

Amid feathers and shells from the deepest sea.

A doily made a fine floor cloth and

There was a baby’s shoe

Scuffed with the marks of first steps,

The shoe strings all askew.

This could only be a fairy’s house,

I thought in my wondering mind

And I glanced about in fervent hopes of

Seeing their magical kind.

But all I could see was the woods all around

And hear bees and the trickling streams

And I knew I would only ever see fairies

While dreaming pleasant dreams.

Because the fairies stay hidden by day

Among the flowers, mushrooms and leaves

Deep in the dusky, magical forests

Under canopies and eaves.

They ride on the backs of field mice

Through the meadow grass

And lasso dragonflies with spiders web

As they try to quickly pass.

They emerge from hiding at dusk and fly

Gathering lost treasures and casting spells

Of protection, health and good fortune

Far from their forest dells.

I’ve been into the woods many times since

In search of the fairy house

I’ve cut through the thickest vines and growth and

Chased after bird, fox and mouse.

And once I thought I had found it again,

The winding magical trail.

But the tiny blue door alluded me

And I searched to no avail.

One day I will find the fairy house

While out on a walk in the woods

And I plan to leave a little gift

To add to their bounty of goods.

I think I’ll take a brooch

More beautiful than they could have ever seen

And leave it at the little blue door

Under the evergreen.

Jody Raines

copyright, 2008

No title yet but it conveys the image I have in my mind. Now to make a polymer clay blue fairy door!