Fairy Family Raffle

The Fairies have persevered through our winter of discontent and are resilient enough to come out of hiding this summer. A family of 5 will appear on Cape Cod during the Storybook Fairy Houses display at Highfield Hall and Gardens, June 25 – Sept. 4, 2017. And by the end of summer they will go to live with the lucky winner of the FAIRY FAMILY RAFFLE. I do not normally sell one-of-a-kind dolls, so this is a rare opportunity to have a unique set of your own. Tickets ($5.00) may be purchased online here. After the winner is picked on Sept. 4th, the Fairies will fly to their new home anywhere in the world!

The winged and festively dressed family, which includes Mother, Father, brother, sister and baby have been patiently awaiting today’s coming out announcement. Knowing that things would get busy in the studio, I made the doll family way ahead of this year’s Fairy House exhibit. Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind of a time, so I’m sure glad that they were finished about a year ago.  All proceeds from the raffle will benefit Highfield Hall and Gardens.

This year’s family is similar to the one I made 2 years ago for the last Fairy House Exhibit in 2015, which you can see here. Patterns and directions to make the dolls are in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures.

Fairy houses have become an eagerly anticipated tradition at Highfield Hall and this year’s exhibit should be just as unique and varied as the previous displays. I had the pleasure of organizing and curating the first two exhibits in 2013 and 2015, with the understanding that those responsibilities would be passed on once the idea had been sufficiently launched.

Since I couldn’t spare a month to make a new house for this year’s exhibit, Grate Hall will be back for a second viewing, this time inside the museum. See the process of making it here.

This year’s exhibit, Storybook Fairy Houses is curated by museum staff. 25 builders chose a favorite children’s book that inspired their creation. I picked The Borrowers by Mary Norton. 

As a child, I devoured The Borrowers series, with its tales of little people living by their wits under the floor boards. I can still remember the book’s descriptions of making a bed out of a discarded match box and fashioning tables and chairs from wooden spools. The whole premise sparked my imagination then and still feeds into just about everything I make today, from my work in children’s book illustration to the creation of my wee folk world.

My fairy house, Grate Hall uses the same concept of reusing household items to make and furnish a small scale shelter. The cheese graters and whisk were saved when cleaning out a departed relative’s kitchen supplies and the single glove was found in a box of my grandmother’s lace memorabilia. Other parts include old door knob plates and a chandelier crystal. The overall structure is held together with wire that is covered with pieces of felt. Branches pruned from blueberry bushes cover the roof and the door is decorated with carved bone charms.  Using found objects is like editing a poem — it’s always challenging to decide what to include and what to leave out. Many very cool items were rejected in the process and they will just have to wait for another opportunity to shine.

The Fairy Family is on display at the museum and raffle tickets may be purchased on sight or online. The drawing will be on Sept. 4, 2017. This opportunity is open to all and the dolls will be mailed to the winner anywhere in the world.  All proceeds from the raffle will benefit Highfield Hall and Gardens.

Needle Nonsense revisit

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While cleaning up my studio last summer, I came across a plastic bag full of small characters and other props I’d made years ago. The items were used in place of words in a rebus I wrote and illustrated sometime around 2000 for Threads Magazine’s Closures page.

Since then, I’ve shared cell phone photos on Instagram and Facebook of little things I’ve found around my studio. The easiest way to do this was to hold them in my left hand while clicking the camera with my right hand. I realized that showing the scale of these tiny objects with a human hand as a reference point makes you see them differently. The uptick in viewer responses to these images led me to look for more small scale items to photograph in my fingers.

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I looked at the printed rebus again and noticed how the images floating on the white page give no sense of scale. Other than the found objects like the buttons, needle and spools of thread, there’s no way of knowing the real size of the handmade objects.

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With these new photos, you can see just how small everything is.

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Polly in the Galapagos

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Polly just returned from a fascinating trip to the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador. She dressed in an outfit suitable for a Charles Darwin expedition in the 1830’s. The excessive heat and humidity were a challenge in her long skirt, but at least she didn’t have to put sun screen on her wooden face. In this photo, you can barely make out the piles of sun bathing sea iguanas on the black volcanic rocks. A brown baby sea lion nestled in the rocks and slept through the photo session, while another looked on from the water’s edge.

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Having nothing to fear, the animals were oblivious to humans. We were told that they don’t sleep close together because of affection, but to keep themselves warm. Polly took along a collection bag and straw hat for protection from the equatorial sun.

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This is as close as she got to some land iguanas.

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She hiked up to a high lookout on one of the islands…

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and climbed cactus plants.

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The giant tortoises were impressively old and slow.

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While the Sally Lightfoot crabs were gaudy and fast.

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This young sea lion slumbered on a bench. Polly resisted the temptation to tickle its whiskers.

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Polly got a kick out of posing in front a photo collage of Charles Darwin, who was in his 20’s when he visited the Galapagos Islands in 1831. His theory of evolution, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, based mainly on his observations there was published in 1859. More photos of the trip, with closeups of the animals go here.

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Polly in Oregon

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Polly came along on our trip to Oregon. She was mesmerized by the beauty inside the Lan Su Chinese Garden in the heart of Portland.

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She helped the Mavor sisters make Speculaas, molded Dutch gingerbread cookies.

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She drove south of Portland to Willamette Valley, Oregon’s wine making region.

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It was really gorgeous out in the country. Polly loved Oregon!

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Nasty Fairy Force deployment

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The NASTY Fairy Force is eager to take flight and follow their important humanitarian mission. This special unit has been assigned to uplift the disheartened and guard against bullying and harassment in the homeland and overseas. NASTY may look cute, but can she sting! The swarm of 25 fairies will be deployed on Saturday, Nov. 19th at 10 AM EST, in my ETSY shop. First come, first served.

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Months of preparation have led up to their readiness, with an extra push at the end to help meet this week’s emergency call for action. May the Fairy Force be with you!

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Polly’s travels

While Polly is away, let’s take this opportunity to review her previous traveling outfits and adventures. As you can see in the following photos, Polly doesn’t mind posing in front of the camera. Dressing appropriately is her first priority. She is sure to share her experiences in Oregon and Utah when she returns. In the meantime, check out Polly’s travelogue on Instagram and Facebook. See if you can pick out where she’s been. Answers are at the bottom of this post.

Antarctica, Cuba, Yosemite, Provence, Ireland, San Francisco, Scotland and Prince Edward Island.

Polly heads west

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Polly will be traveling again! We’re heading west to visit my sister in Portland, Oregon and my cousins in Utah. During a visit a few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting several blog followers at a talk/book signing in Portland, so I thought it would be nice to arrange another event while we’re in town. This time, I will talk briefly about my work and sign books on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm at A Children’s Place.

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Polly needed a new outfit for the trip, of course. She decided on a colorful cotton batik skirt and turquoise top to compliment her favorite red vest. She’s always had a weakness for western attire, so I made a custom cowgirl hat.

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Polly is excited to be traveling west, across the whole continent and looks forward to sharing her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.

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