How to Make Fairy Gardens
Supplies to Make Pebbles, Stones, Grottos and Mountains:
1 bag of Sakrete Masonry Mix 1 bag of vermiculite 1 bag of perlite 1 bag of playground sand Water Plastic gloves Medium plastic pot Baggies and supermarket Supermarket plastic bags
Supplies to Make the Fairy Gardens:
Clay pots or dishes Potting soil 3 to 5 small plants (in 3 or 4 inch pots) Plastic cups Garden stones Handmade grottos, rocks and mountains (directions below) Small silk flowers Spanish moss The little garden to the right was made in the shallow bottom catch-tray from a larger pot. (The dolls are made with the Baby Fairy mold and the Girl Fairy mold. All of the dolls are made from one or more of push molds by www.whitegothic.com)
THE BEGINNING: DESIGNING YOUR FAIRY GARDENS:
First you must decide how big or how small you wish your first Fairy Garden to be. It is possible to start as small as one pot. The doll to the left is sitting on one pot with her legs over the lip of the pot. Once you add a fairy, immediately you have a scene. The eye assumes there is a story.
Another beginning option is to start with several pots of varying heights all grouped together. This way, you can expand your Fairy Garden one plant or one Garden Vignette at a time. It doesn’t require a huge investment. Once your dolls are posed, you can easily reposition them in a larger garden by just making a similar sitting spot for them. You can do Fairy Gardening outdoors as well. I have kept small polymer clay fairies outdoors in Florida for several years. The dolls’ coloring fades a little bit, but they held up pretty well for a few years. When I moved, the new owner of my condo insisted I leave the Fairy Garden, which I did. The children in my development used to stop by and look with awe on their way to the pool. I was known, of course, as the Fairy Lady.
The quickest way to start is to add little fairies to your present house plants. For single fairies, just pose them peaking out from the center of your plants and it will turn your everyday house plants into works of art. You will not believe how people react when they see small little fairies peaking out at them! In the medium sized plants, add two or three fairies. Be sure to pose the fairies interacting with one another. It brings the viewer into the vignette. It brings the scene to life. It creates instant “wonder” as to what is going on. To make the fairies interact, have them looking at one another or both looking at someone else in the scene.
Growing your Garden:
Once you begin, you will begin to seek out small plants, small silk plants and other miniatures that you can easily add to your gardens to add wonder to your scenes. Most of the garden stores have a section where they sell little tiny plants in 3 or 4 inch pots. In my neighborhood they are called “starter plants”. Those are the plants you 2
want to use when you are building an actual Fairy Garden because the more plants you add, the more natural your garden or forest will look. The smaller plants will keep your miniature garden in scale. Following the principles of Bonsai, you will also want to prune your plants to keep them small. They can get bigger than the Bonsai scale, but not much bigger. Plants should be between 4 inches and 12 to 15 inches tall. While you are searching out tiny plants, be sure to pick up a bag of small garden stones. They come in several colors now. They are great to make paths in your gardens. You can also make little stones from left-over polymer clay. Spanish moss is sold in the garden stores and also the arts and crafts stores. As you get going, you can also use different mosses in different colors and textures to add to the overall look of your garden. Those of you who live up north can collect so many things from your own yards, acorns, sticks, twigs, dried flowers, tiny rocks and pebbles. Those of us who live in Florida can even swipe the natural Spanish moss from the local trees and search the beaches for the natural driftwood pieces. If you are really lucky, you can even find the air plants that grow on the sides of the palm trees. On your next vacation to Disney World, Florida, keep you eyes peeled for all of the goodies. Anything you pick up naturally and wish to use in your scene, it is good to place it on a baking pan, place it into the oven, and set the temperature to about 175 degrees. Bake the items to kill off any bugs, fungi, or bacteria. _____________________________________________________________________
SET YOUR TIMER; BAKE THE ITEMS AT 175 DEGREES FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES. DO NOT LEAVE THE ITEMS UNATTENDED. IF YOU WALK AWAY AND FORGET ABOUT THEM, THEY CAN IGNITE. SO ALWAYS USE A TIMER!
For some of my smaller Fairy Gardens, I lay a garland of colorful flowers around the garden to add to the Garden without making it too big. It serves to frame your Vignette with another dimension that adds color to your scene without overwhelming the action in the Garden itself. If it is more of a fall scene, you can sprinkle twigs and dried leaves around the Garden. By framing the outside of the garden, it tends to complete your scene. It becomes like the colorful book cover on a wonderful book. It opens and closes your scene.
HOW TO CREATE A LARGER FAIRY GARDEN:
There are two ways to create a larger fairy garden using multiple plants. One is to find a shallow tray, onto which you can put a shallow pan. Make sure the pan has some draining holes, even if you have to poke them with an awl or use a hand drill. These are the kinds of things you can either purchase at your local Walmart or search for at garage sales or flea markets. Once you have your tray and pan, fill it with potting soil and plant the larger plants along the back, adding the medium-sized plants in the mid-area, and any draping or cascading plants along the front. Try to pick plants that have the same feeding, watering and fertilizing needs. Once you have the plants securely buried in the top soil, lightly water. Below we will learn how to make the rocks and ridges, so you can add them, add your silk flowers (or real ones) your acorns, moss, etc. and then your dolls. The second, and I think the easier, way to creating a larger Fairy Garden is to start with your shallow tray and shallow pan but bury the plants in their pots. This way, the plants will more naturally stay small and if any die, you can easily remove them and replace with a new plant. Just bury the plants in their pots and you can hide the tops of the pots with the moss. By adding the stones, ridges, paths, moss, and any other items, you create the look of a landscape, which is what you want. You want to design a path where the eye enters the scene, and goes from one focal point to another, so the Fairy Garden is not really one item, but it becomes a small experience, a story that unfolds visually as the eyes dance from point to point.
How to Make Grottos, Stones, Mountains and Pebbles:
The grottos, stones, ridges and pebbles are all made from the same mix, which is as follows:
You can use play sand too
3 parts Sakrete Mortar Mix 1 Part Vermiculite 1 Part Perlite 1 Part Sand Large plastic disposable bowl to use as a mold Plastic disposable mixing bowl or jug Plastic gloves (a few pairs) All of these items are found in your local Home Depot or Lowes Stores. Sakrete is a brand name of quick set cement. Any quick-set cement should do. It usually comes in smaller bags, maybe 25 pounds or less. The sand is also sold in Home Depot or Lowes in the construction aisle; you can also use play sand, which is the cheapest type. Vermiculite and Perlite are found in the same stores in the garden section back in the area where they sell the potting soils and fertilizer. Any brand will do.
How to Make the Rock/Stone/Grotto Mix:
To Make the Rock Mix, first put on plastic gloves because the cement contains lye and is very rough on the hands. If you don’t’ use the gloves, your hands will burn from the lye. You will need to mix up the formula in a disposable container. I cut the top off of a gallon size milk container and use that. This way, when I am done, I just place the
empty container into a plastic bag, toss in the used plastic gloves, and tie and toss into the garbage can. I make the mix in my garage, not in my home. Too messy! I cut open a large plastic garbage bag and lay out like a picnic blanket. I do my mix on top of that. When I am done, I roll up the plastic blanket, put it into another plastic bag, tie it up and toss this too into the garbage can. I use a paint stirrer or an old wooden spoon to stir, if I need to. But most of the mixing I do with my hands (with the plastic gloves on). If you use a wooden spoon, of course, you will need to toss that out in the garbage too.
The following formula is for a small grotto. You can follow the formula above which gives the formula in “parts” or you can double or triple each of the measurements below; whichever you find easier: Mix one cup Sakrete, 1/3 cup vermiculite, 1/3 cup perlite and 1/3 cup sand. Once you mix up the dry ingredients, begin to pour water in a little bit at a time. Keep mixing until the mixture is thoroughly wet, but not soaking. You want the mixture to be wet enough so you can form a wall with it, but not so wet that the wall falls down. The trick is to mix only a few “gulps” of water at a time.
SAFETY PRECAUTION: YOU NEED TO USE A DISPOSABLE CONTAINER FOR THIS FORMULA BECAUSE THIS MIXTURE CANNOT BE WASHED DOWN ANY DRAIN. IT WILL HARDEN AND YOU WILL HAVE PROBLEMS WITH YOUR PIPES – AND I MEAN PROBLEMS!
Once your mixture is properly wetted and mixed, buildup a one-inch floor in the plastic bowl you will be using as your mold. Once you have a level one-inch floor, build up a one-inch thick wall around the sides of the plastic bowl. Pack the mixture as tightly as you can. The illustration to the left shows how the wall will look; it will be a cement floor, cement walls and you will be planting in the center. The overhead view shows you how the inside will be hollow.
You can make the upper part of the wall a little uneven so the grotto looks more natural. To make stones, lay out newspaper, preferably outside. With your plastic gloves on and your Sakrete mixture ready, form small stones in the palms of your hands like you would roll up meatballs. Once they are compacted, you can mush one side or the other so they are not perfectly round. You want to mimic the shape of stones. To make larger stones, place a little mixture into a baggie and toss the baggies onto the ground, one on top of the other; this will give you a very random shape to your rocks. You can also form little ridges in some of the tops of the rocks to give more texture to your garden floor. The ridges are good to divide sections in your Fairy Garden. Make sure you make a few rocks with little flat “sitting” spots on them, so you will have lots of seats for your little fairy dolls. To Make Faux Ridges and Tiny Hills/Mountains for your Gardens, follow the same instructions for the stones, but use more Sakrete mixture and make the rocks longer with peaks like mountains and ridges. Once you begin to build your Fairy Gardens, you will begin to use your concrete mixture to build structures and shapes that will greatly enhance the design of your Gardens. Think water wells, little bridges, stone walls, etc.
Creating a Small Fairy Garden:
My Fairy Gardens are made with fairies made from my fairy molds, but you can also use store-bought fairies as well. In the smaller gardens, I use silk flowers because I like the gardens to burst with color. Living in Florida, I do not do well with natural flowers. I also like to use silk flowers because they make the gardens pretty maintenance-free and I can put them anywhere. It is easier to have indoor gardens that use silk flowers against real greenery because they look beautiful year round. I also use silk greenery too! To the left is a fairy in a faux tree made from sticks from the yard. I simply glued and wired the trigs into a little sitting area and posed the doll in the tree before baking. This can be fit into a larger Garden Vignette. The Gardens are best created by beginning small and adding to the Vignettes both plants, flowers and fairies. 7
You can make a windowsill Fairy Garden which can be enjoyed by those inside and outside your home. For those of you who have desk jobs, but your heart belongs to the arts, you can bring in your own small Fairy Garden for your desk top and a glance or two will bring you far, far away to your own private World of Enchantment.
The Garden Swing:
The Fairy Swing to the left is made by making a small rectangular polymer clay “wood seat” with two holes on both sides. Wrap masking tape around wire and paint brown. Lace the tape covered wire through the holes in the swing seat and wrap around a painted toothpick. These can be added to your Fairy Garden Or they can also be used as Christmas ornaments. As you can see, I added a few silk flowers and leaves to spice up the swing.
You can add Fairy seats made out of cardboard and wood putty as shown to the right. The process is covered in my book, Sculpting Fairies in Polymer Clay.
Here is an example of making the fairies relate to one another. This is the scene stripped down. It is a faux garden base (covered in my book) with a piece of faux drift wood (covered in my book also) with a 7 inch fairy looking at her little baby (baby fairy mold) in a little twig crib.
The Garden Crib:
How to make the Twig Crib: Using masking tape, tear the masking tape into long narrow strips and wrap around about 1 yard of 24 gauge wire. Paint the covered wire brown. Once dry, twist around to make a wreath shape, making sure that it fits your cured baby. Because it is made from wire, you can control how the baby interrelates to the mother. You want the dolls to look into each others face. This creates real action. As you can see, the mother’s eyes are facing the baby, and her arms are embracing the crib. The baby is looking up at her mom. To the left is an example of how the garden grew with time. I added the silk flowers, the moss and another toddler doll, also looking at mom.
To the right is a doll posed on a few pieces of the faux driftwood. Her headpiece is made from a simple silk flower and calyx.
This fairy was dressed using silk plants to make a little fairy dress and her headdress is made from the calyx from one of the flowers with a little gold trinket on top. I hope you enjoyed the Fairy Garden Instructional and I hope it will open up a new, exciting hobby for you! I would love to know if you enjoyed the course and how you heard about www.whitegothic.com Do you have a few minutes to email me and let me know? Be sure to put me in your favorites and/or sign up for my newsletter to keep up with new products and new tutorials. White Gothic Studios www.whitegothic.com firstname.lastname@example.org