fairy house tour (part 1)

Last week,  I drove with my husband and a friend to Old Lyme, Connecticut, to see the eagerly anticipated Wee Faerie Village on the grounds of the Florence Griswold Museum.  It was the last opportunity to see the display, because this year’s exhibit closed yesterday. I’m told that they coordinate the building of a new village every other year, so the next event should be in the fall of 2014.

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(added May 30, 2015)
The Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall outdoor exhibit will be held from June 28th to August 31, 2015 at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA. In addition to curating the exhibit, Salley Mavor has made a fairy family of 5, which is being raffled (3 tickets for $5.00). Tickets may be purchased online or at Highfield Hall, where the fairy family is on display. The raffle drawing will be August 30, 2015. The prize will be sent to the winner anywhere in the world! Good luck!

Even with cloudy skies and cool temperatures, we enjoyed strolling around the property, following the numbered mushroom signs. Over thirty fairy dwellings were created by artists from the area, including my favorite, Nevergreen Caverns, made by the museum’s education director, David D.J. Rau.

Three hollow logs are stacked on a larger stump, with each space furnished with fairy comforts.

I found the burned wood markings charming…

as well as the mushroom roofed balconies.

It was well worth the visit! I will show more pictures of other houses in my next post.

Ashley Wolff @ Kettle Cove

RISD classmate and the talented and prolific children’s book illustrator Ashley Wolff came to visit last week. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to take the boat over to Kettle Cove on Naushon Island. After we rowed our dingy ashore, Ashley strolled the beach with her border collie Tula. We made a funny face with the stuff Ashley collected. There’s always art to be made!

My husband Rob and Tula sat in the shade of the umbrella and Ashley painted …

this scene of our lobster boat Mary Lou and the Tabor Boy, which comes from across Buzzards Bay in Marion. A whole pack of Tabor Academy students swam ashore from the ship.

Ashley did this wonderful watercolor in her sketchbook in about 15 minutes. We had a great day! Read the post about her visit last year here.

Close-ups (chairs)

It’s been a while since I’ve shown some closeups, so here’s one about chairs. See the archived posts from the Close-ups Series here.

I use chairs as perches for my little dolls. The trick is making the chairs in shallow relief, so that they don’t stick out too far in my pictures. The first photo shows a girl sitting on a chair made from milled wooden pieces that are used in doll house miniatures.

detail from "The Storyteller" 1998

detail from “The Storyteller” 1998

George’s chair is made with old worn upholstery fabric. The chair’s feet are sculpted with Fimo. Read about and see more pictures from “The Storyteller” and “George’s Chair” in another post here.

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Detail from “George’s Chair” mid 90’s

Mary’s mother sits knitting in this detail from Mary Had a Little Lamb. I only had to show a board in the back and one chair leg to achieve her pose.

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These little women from The Hollyhock Wall are about 1 1/4″ tall, so their chairs are tiny. They were made of wire wrapped with grey embroidery floss.

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The yellow high chair is made from miniature doll house wooden parts. It’s in the kitchen scene in my picture book In the Heart. I was able to get some copies when it went out of print, so I’m offering autographed books for a good price in my Etsy shop.

detail from picture book “In the Heart” 2001

Here are a couple of details from Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. The girl is sitting in a wicker chair made with floral cloth wire.

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Detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Scallop shells serve as a hat and chair back for this character in “Posies”.

Detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

Detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Wedding Banner: Kat & Devin

Last Sunday, we had the pleasure of attending Kat and Devin’s wedding.The bride’s family and my family have been closely connected through several generations. Kat’s grandparents and my grandparents were next door neighbors in Woods Hole in the 1940’s and our families have shared our love of folk dancing, folk music, sailing, and art ever since. Kat is an artist and her husband seems to be a free spirit. Here’s a picture of the dancing wedding couple.

As usual,  I made them a wedding banner for a gift. I really lucked out with the felt  colors I chose, since the wedding’s predominant color was purple/lavender.  I bent wire into the letters of their names and then picked out some decorative objects and beads. The pinkish square object in the center, between their names is a cool leather button I bought years ago.

I then wrapped the wire letters with embroidery floss and stitched the square wavy edged name panel with variegated pima cotton.

I sewed the wire letters and objects to the felt piece.

Then I stitched around the outside edge of the felt  banner piece and sewed the square panel in place. I added some fun “dalmatian” stone beads in a zig zag pattern.

I added some bead  and shell embellishments to the scalloped bottom edge and sewed the wrapped wire wedding date to the felt.

I picked some metal beads from India that I thought would bring an interesting texture to the hanging part of the banner.

A section of a strangled bittersweet vine serves as a hanger. I screwed in tiny metal eyes and hung the banner. I hope Kat and Devin like the banner. It was a lovely wedding and I wish the bride and groom many years of happiness!

Baby Banner (Eliza Jane)

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My cousin John and his wife Mariana had a baby girl on March 1st, so I had to drop everything and make a baby banner for Eliza Jane. I took photos along the way, which give an idea of my process. It’s like the wedding banners I’ve been making for a few years. You can see all of them here.

I first made a simple pattern, with her name, birth date and weight written out. Then I cut out a smaller felt square and bent wire to form the letters and numbers.

I wrapped the wire with 2 strands of variegated embroidery floss, hiding the knots behind the curled ends. In this case, wire had to overlap to make the Z. I tried making the fancier lower case script Z, but it was hard to read, so I went with the simpler zigzag style. Below you can see how I made an orange stripe with another thread on top of the embroidery floss in JANE.

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I like using variegated thread to edge the felt.

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I made a narrow panel for a sheep button and some leaf beads.

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Glass leaf beads and a chain stitched vine fill the space between the words.

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I’ve had this ceramic sheep button for about 30 years. It’s so satisfying to put it to use in just the right place.

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I braided some Greek leather that I bought at a bead show and made a strap to hang the banner. Working with the leather reminded me of making gimp projects at camp. Remember gimp? What a weird material!

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Welcome to the world Eliza Jane!

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Happy Hibernation

I thought I’d come out of my blissful hibernation just long enough to show a few pictures of my studio in its current state of messiness (productivity). For some people, winter is to be endured, but I love this time of year, when I can spent hours working on projects, with less distractions. Last winter I spent 4 months working on the Rabbitat piece. See the short film and posts about it here. This winter, I’ve started constructing scenery and characters to use in stop-motion animation, which I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My husband, Rob and I are working together on the project and have started experimenting. We’re not ready to show anything or describe the story yet and are still in the early learning stages of the production. The process is incredibly time-consuming and we’ll be happy if we can put together a 2 minute film. I guess I wanted to show that I’m busy working!