A Fairy Castle In The Making
A couple months ago I wrote about our upcoming yard projects. One was to make a fairy house. Well, not long after that, I pulled Olivia into the art room and told her about the plans. We made a list.
Because a list is a good place to start.
Now, in case you want to make a fairy house of your own, I’m going to list some of the supplies I used, and make this a psudo-tutorial.
- 1 1/2″ (ish, I don’t remember the exact diameter) PVC pipe, bought it at Home Depot for like $3 – they have little sections (so you don’t have to buy a ten foot length) in the plumbing aisle. I then asked a Home Depot guy to cut the pipe for me. I just eyeballed it based on my general ideas. When I came home I had Wyatt drill a 1 inch (ish) hole into the pipe using his hole auger on his drill. Easy Peasy.
- Empty Milk Jug (I prefer Kirtland brand – it’s hormone free). (Uh oh, now you’re wondering if there’s something special about Kirtland brand milk jugs. There’s not. That was just my attempt at humor. Oh Jeez!)
- Tin Foil – a maker-of-thing’s best friend.
- Duct tape – turquoise because, um hello, it’s for fairies.
- Rapid Set Cement-All. You can buy a 10 lb. box at Home Depot. You won’t need nearly that much, but it’s the smallest quantity they sell. It’s not too expensive. $10 maybe.
- Tennis Ball (That was Wyatt’s idea)
- A Funnel – I used one that Wyatt had in the garage. I think he got it at an auto parts place. I think it was for putting oil in the car.
- Spray Paint – this isn’t really necessary, but since my funnel was florescent yellow, I spray painted it with some white so that hopefully if there were any holes in the shingles of the roof, the white would be less noticeable than the yellow. But really, I had the paint on hand, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have bothered.
- Rocks. I thought for half a second about buying some pretty rocks from the floral department at the craft store, but I wanted to keep this project REALLY CHEAP so I opted for my lovely, dusty, non-descript gravel that sits on the side of my house where we park our trailer. High class, baby. High class. I also thought, as I was working on this project that you could just as well use sea shells, sticks, bark, or anything else you find lovely and of good report.
- Gorilla Glue. Good criminey, this is hard stuff to work with, so be careful!
- Pine cones – collected from our walks.
- Moss – I found some that was on a pre-sticky-mat that I could just cut out. It was awesome. Something like this:
Assorted marbles, beads, and lovely things. (Just look in your drawers, you’ll find something!)
Ok, now here’s the list without my rambling:
- 1 1/2″ PVC pipe, cute, drilled.
- Milk Carton
- Tin Foil
- Duct Tape
- Rapid Set Cement All
- Tennis Ball
- Spray Paint (OPTIONAL!)
- Rocks or gravel
- Gorilla Glue
- Pine Cones
Got it? Good!
Okay, here’s how it went:
PART ONE: CONSTRUCTION
I had Wyatt drill the hole into the PVC pipe (that I had cut at Home Depot). I then took a milk jug and some scissors and started cutting the milk jug to form the house. The idea was to make a simple skeleton for my structure. I used duct tape to tape the milk jug into the shape I wanted, as well as to secure it to the PVC pipe. I cut doors and windows as necessary.
Once my basic shell was built, I realized it was too flimsy to support the weight of the wet cement, so I then used tinfoil wadded into balls to stuff the inside of my shell to give it extra support.
PART TWO: MASONRY
After the construction of the shell was complete, I was ready to start putting on the cement/stone work. I thought it would be like working with clay like you do in ceramics class in high school. It wasn’t. It was soppy, goopy, and messy. And since I was trying to go vertical it was extra challenging. What I ended up doing was mixing my cement (and no, I did not follow the packaging instructions. I found it was too clumpy when I did that. Instead I did it pancake style: put in your mix and add water until it’s the consistency you want).
So I learned that after it was thoroughly mixed I would let it sit and start drying out – as long as ten or fifteen minutes sometimes depending on how much water I added. I would wait for it to dry to a soft paste. Then I would work like mad to get it on, with the rocks stuck into it. Once it hit that paste consistency I only had maybe five minutes until it was too hard and cracky to work with.
Because of the fact that I only had about five minutes per batch of cement as my window of work time, I ended up mixing only about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of cement at a time. Yes, it took me a LONG time to get through covering the whole castle. I watched “The Man From Snowy River” while I worked. Don’t you love that movie?
In addition to sticking the gravel stones into the cement, I also put in the occasional bead or marble, just to give some interest to the work.
PART THREE: THE ROOF
I started out with grand ideas of covering the entire turret roof with pine-cone shingles. Our neighborhood is resplendent with pine cones of every shape and size, so I wasn’t worried about having enough. And then, once I figured out how to “de-cone” the scales (Martha Stewart had a tutorial. Go-figure), I thought it would be easy-peasy to create my roof.
Enter Gorilla Glue
The stuff is messy, goopy, and runny. It doesn’t stick while it’s wet, and it expands when it’s dry. It was miserable to work with. It’s only redeeming feature was that when it dried it looked like sap.
But after taking two nights to do two rows (and having just finished the tedious masonry work) I decided the pine cone shingles would be a lovely border to an otherwise much more simple moss roof.
At one point I considered applying a real (living) moss roof. But then I thought of the maintenance issues. So I opted for some dried craft moss.
I found moss on these sheets that peel off like stickers. All I had to do was cut it and apply it to the surface. The sticker part was really sticky too. It was awesome. The rest of the roof took me about five minutes to cut and trim just so.
I did decide last minute that I didn’t want a completely flat roof, so I molded some tinfoil into a mound on the top of the milk jug and used the sticker-moss to hold everything in place. I know. So. Awesome.
And then the fairy house was done.
At least the structure of it. At one point I thought I would add a door, and I might later on, but for now the fairy house is residing under the aspen tree next to the garden. Olivia has dug a moat and created a path with rocks and stones and buttons she confiscated from the art room. In another few days we will plant the area around the fairy house and make a real fairy garden. Pictures of that will follow.
It was a really fun project. Now that one house is built, I might try for another one. Who knows, maybe I’ll make a whole fairy village.
PS – YOU SHOULD KNOW
So, I’ve seen fairy houses on Etsy and such being sold for like $200. Seriously. So I thought – hmm . . . maybe I’ll just sell this when I’m done. I certainly have a list of things I’d like to use an extra $200 for.
But when I broached the subject with Olivia, she said she didn’t want to sell it. I asked her why not . . . and in her most soft, sensitive, heartfelt way, she told me: Because, I really want a fairy to move in. I really want some pixie dust.
DRAT YOU DISNEY! But don’t you worry, I have plans to solve this problem. Check back on this blog in a few weeks and see what happens!