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The Fairy House

>> Saturday, April 6, 2013

Before my niece was born, being artistic and super excited about having a niece, I was tasked with decorating her nursery.  I'm not entirely sure why, but we settled on a fairy theme.  There's a wonderful artist named Christian Slade who paints whimsical scenes with Corgis and fairies, and my sister has 2 Corgis.  So, I commissioned a Christian Slade piece for her wall, and set to work stenciling tiny luminous fairies on her dusky purple walls.  On a whim, I also picked up a book for her that was about how to make fairy houses.  It would be years before she could appreciate it, but it struck me as being really quite sweet.

Fast forward 8 years, and my niece is obsessed with fairies.  She only reads books about them, watches movies about them (presumably most of them horribly insipid, but never mind), and has even started a fairy club at school.  One day my sister found her crying over their bin of recyclables because she couldn't figure out how to make a good fairy house out of them.

My sister knows me far too well.  She Googled fairy houses, saw how much people online were charging for nice ones, and immediately picked up the phone and called Aunt Holly.  Because Aunt Holly is a sucker.  And because Aunt Holly feels a modicum of guilt about subjecting my sister to endless books and movies about fairies.

Less than a month, and well over 200 hours, and $250 dollars later, Auntie Holly and Uncle Seth have created, if I say so myself, a wicked cool fairy house for their garden.

I started with a stone chimney.

Then I got totally carried away. 

I drafted my long-suffering husband Seth into the project because he's good with tools and wood working.  I think it runs in his veins, from his grandfather.  Seth's best friend noted to me the other day that Seth started out moaning and groaning and complaining about being asked to help with the project, but that by the end, he would get this wistful look on his face as he described the tongue and groove joints he created for the roof joists.  In short, though he's not likely to admit it, I think Seth had some fun with the project.  He repeatedly stayed up into the wee hours to make every detail perfect, rather than cutting any corners. 

He sure as heck did an amazing job with it!  I was the artistic visionary, he was the one with the mechanical skills to make it happen in sophisticated and beautiful ways.  Seriously, his roof joists and hinge insets and hidden tricks for adding stability and hiding hardware are incredible. 

Bless him, too, for his patience with my constant interruptions.  I thought he might throttle me the day he was trying to put the walls up and I kept interrupting him with questions and tasks for the tiny acorn tea set I was working on. I even dragged my poor father into helping me find acorns for that tea set; he drove all over kingdom come one afternoon searching for some.

I take particular pride in the front entrance, from the stairs, to the awning, to the tiny lamps to the door with a working knocker.  It turned out far better than I even envisioned.  And of course, any good fairy house must have a sign over the front door that says "A hundred thousand welcomes" in Irish.  Because, you know, fairies come from Ireland originally.  (I'm wondering if I tell my niece that, if she'll demand to start learning Gaelic and request a 2014 summer vacation in Ireland...?)

I delivered it along with a hot glue gun and moss and stones and shells and lichen, so my niece can add her own decorative touch to it as she pleases.

Anyway, enjoy the photos. I shall miss working on it, even though it was a bit much to have every waking moment consumed by it for weeks. I just got back from personally delivering it (a 5 hour drive away) on my niece's birthday yesterday. I nearly asphyxiated on marine varnish fumes between here and there. The drive gave me plenty of time to contemplate designs for a fairy house for my own garden...


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