Thursday, April 8, 2010

fairy houses

Monday we visited Becci's beautiful yard (her husband is a landscape architect and oh, it shows!) and brought home Reuben's first sunburn (that first clear sunny day outside in spring always gets me--a little windy, felt cool...) and two new fairy homes.

I love Family Fun magazine because their projects are so do-able: no mail-order fancy-pants supplies needed (though oh how I love those!). I read it so much at doctor's offices that I've never subscribed, though perhaps also never missed an issue, because I live there. And now that our medical drama is abating (my beloved resilient ones!), I still don't need to subscribe because Becci tears out the best projects and gathers supplies. Although FF has an extensive website, it usually takes awhile for projects to get on their website, so I cannot link it, but the article shared the fairy house project an elementary teacher did with her students.
The parenthetical exclamation points in this post are killing me (stop already!).

The fairy houses pictured were marvelous in their detail, but all followed a basic construction technique: screw a few branches into a split log base, then pile on the details. Our log bases were pretty thick, so we drilled 3/4" to 1" holes halfway into them, pooled in some wood glue, then wedged in our chosen branches. If the fit was tight enough, that was sufficient. If the branches were still a little loose, we added screws and/or nails from the top, angling them to go through the branch into the base. It would be neater to drill the screws from the bottom, but the precision required was beyond the scope of our morning project.

As we added platforms and steps (balsa wood, branch slices, and popsicle sticks), I initially was using finish nails and twine lashing to attach them, but was finally converted to using the good ol' glue gun. The bulk of the glue is great for attaching bits to irregular surfaces, and my kids appreciated the instant results (read: were totally bored watching my little adjustments, then loved just having their ideas implemented NOW).I took advantage of miter saw proximity to have Becci slice up a collection of birch branches I found at my dentist's while Reuben and I were wandering outside waiting for Audrey last week ("Well, maybe someone is saving them?" Oh, no, the receptionist was quite certain they were available). I believe her, because the branches must have been sitting out for quite awhile; the center wood is falling apart, leaving bark rings and hollowing stumps. Plans...My approach to the project was to have my girls carefully plan out which branches they wanted and exactly where I should trim them and place them on the base. It took a long time. While we were still measuring, Becci's kids were already building platforms and canopies and little peg dolls to populate them because she just grabbed a couple of branches and popped them together, yielding bigger, more free-form houses. Because they weren't over controlled, there were more building and creating and attaching possibilities and the houses turned out fantastic. By the time our bases were done, the girls' creative energies were waning. I do love them still, but they weren't interested at that point in adding many wee details.Her poor son has to suffer through so much girl-ness, but has learned how to deal: his tree houses army men.His sister's. These photos don't really show it, but their houses are about 2x the size of ours :).Marian'sAudrey'sMonday evening, introductions were made. All approved.Happy mother/daughter crafting.


Cynthia said...

Isn't that the way it always works? More planning than execution! Love that the fairies are hugging :)

Pen and Paperie said...

Fantastic and magical! I love the spiral-popsicle stair and the tiny pretty fairies occupying their dwellings.