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Sunday, May 10, 2009

For the Love of a Fairy

Although we are not officially revealing the prizes for the We Heart Art carnival until tomorrow, we thought it would be fun to provide a sneak peek at one of the prizes created especially for kids. Wendy from Green Girl Art, an artist in her own right, has generously crafted and donated a fairy door.

So, what is a fairy door, you might ask? Having never heard of this before, I asked Wendy. She explained that a fairy door is a portal to the world where fairies live; a magic door that allows fairies to travel between our world and theirs.

This door is perfect for imagination play between you and your kids. Although the door never opens, children can leave trinkets or their latest discovery at the fairy’s doorstep. And who knows? Maybe if you are feeling a bit creative, the fairy might even leave something for your little one to discover at the footsteps of the door.

Wendy’s idea was inspired by Jonathan B. Wright, the creator of the urban fairy locations in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The town hosts a number of fairy doors in locations ranging from the library, to the elementary school, to the local cafĂ©.

But, why wait? In the spirit of We Heart Art, why not get to work on your own fairy door right away? Wendy will even describe how…

Supplies: Door, paint, paint brushes, sandpaper, tape, Super Glue, wood glue, old cardboard envelope, mini hand saw or x-acto knife, binder clips, push pin, and tweezers

Step One: Buy a door.
I ordered mine online from miniatures.com. Don’t forget to check your local hobby store too.

{The notes on my order say that these items are for adult collectors only. The doors are not intended for children under 14, which I am guessing is due to the small parts – so be safe!}

Step Two: Take the door off of the frame.
To do so, I used small tweezers, which were effective at pulling out the nails. There is a nail with a head on the bottom of the frame, and a headless nail at the top. Once removed, put the nails somewhere safe. I stuck them to a piece of tape because of their size.

Step Three: {optional}
I liked the idea of the door being flush with the wall, so I built out the molding on the back using a piece of balsa wood. I found the balsa wood at a hobby store. Be sure to bring the door with you when buying the wood because different styles require different depths. I purchased only one piece of wood {it was 24” long} and cut it to fit the top and two sides of the back of the door.

Step Four: {optional again}
Follow this step if you’d like to shore up the back. Cut your wood into three pieces – two for the sides & one for the top using a mini hand saw or x-acto knife. Glue the door with a little wood glue and clamp the pieces together using big binder clips. I like to have water and a paper towel handy in order to wipe down the excess glue that gets squeezed out.

Step Five:
If there is a window attached to your door, remove it and save to use as a template later. The window might be held to the door with a piece of tape. Rub off the excess adhesive with your finger. {I would not use solvent to take off the glue because I am not sure how it will react with the paint.}

Step Six: Paint the door.
I used two brushes: a 3/4” wash brush and a 3/8” angle brush. I like my brushes squared off, but, if you prefer round brushes, then by all means, go to town. You should probably avoid using paintbrushes smaller than 3/8” because the larger the brush, the less likely you are to leave brush marks.

You also want your paint to be the consistency of heavy cream; it will look better with two lighter coats, rather than one heavy coat. For paint, I recommend acrylic. It’s water based and dries pretty quickly.

Now here is where you can go wild. The color choices are endless. {It is for a fairy after all.} You can even choose a color that compliments your home, which would make the door even more of a secret. I painted my door pretty mild, choosing a green door with a white frame.

If you have a one year old getting up from his nap while you are painting, like I do, a little piece of saran wrap over your paint will keep it moist until you are able to resume working. It is usually OK to leave the paint out for at least a day. An old yogurt cup can serve as an easy-to-use paint palette. You can also use that same yogurt cup as a water container.

Keep a pushpin close by while you are working, so you can keep the ‘nail’ holes clear.

Step Seven: Sand the door.
You can do this step earlier, but I feel like the first coat of paint seals the wood, so it is best to sand after the first coat of paint. Sand the door until it feels smooth. This step actually yielded a surprise for me. I liked the way the door looked distressed, so I didn’t paint another coat.

Step Eight: Paint the door again.
For one of the doors, I was done. However, I did not like my color choice for the other door, so I changed it a bit. The white frame took three coats of paint; the green door took only two.

Step Nine: Add details to your door using super glue and tweezers.
A doorknob, doorknocker, or house address would all do the trick. Online resources have kick plates if you have a fairy that likes to wear boots, or who always has stuff in her hands and can’t bother to close the door properly. {If you order doorknobs online, then pay attention to how many you are getting – most come in packs of two.}

Use the window as a template to cut a shape out of an old cardboard mailer, if needed. You can then glue a fun piece of fabric, a photo of a park, or another shade of your door color into the window opening. Again, have fun here. Depending on how precise you cut the insert, dab a little glue onto your window and slide it in.

Step Ten: Reinsert the door into the frame using the nails you saved. Put the top headless nail in first and then the bottom nail. And there you have it!

Find a spot in your house, maybe near your own front door, the back door, or up high on a shelf, and create some excitement with your kids. A little double stick tape or some wood glue will keep the door in place.

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Heather said...

That's so cute! And, oh my goodness, how crafty!

Jen said...

I love this. I think it is fantastic next to the real door. Not sure if I trust myself to cut a hole in my wall but the idea is fabulous. I may have to print this out and put it with all my other wonderful crafty ideas that don't get done.

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Oh my gosh, this is the cutest thing EVER! Thanks for sharing it!

Boy Mom said...

Darling! all the boys around here would think I had taken that final step into drooling madness...but, dang that's cute!

lov said...

totally cute! :)

Stacy Uncorked said...

I absolutely love this! I know the Princess Nagger would get a kick out of having a Fairy Door in the house... :)

Wishing you a very Happy Mother's Day! :)

theUngourmet said...

What a wonderful idea! It's just darling!

Happy Mother's Day!

Unknown said...

That is such a cute idea...I think my girls would have loved that when they were little!

Kailey said...

How cute!

Tulip Row said...

That is so cute, I wonder if I would ever get around to doing this!

Paging Doctor Mommy said...

ADORABLE idea! I may just have to try this one. I think Reagan would LOVE it!

Jennifer said...

How cute! Hope you all are enjoying Mother's Day!

Esther said...

That is so fun. I'm filing this away for something to do with Emma when she gets a little older. Happy Mother's DAy!

Amy said...

That is such a great idea. I will be back tomorrow to see what I need to do for the art stuff. My little one was hard at work on some things.

Kimberly said...

Holy Crap I think I just fell in love! I absolutely, positively love, love, this idea.

Since our house is filled to the brim with book shelves and books, both in my space and the kid's, they and I, will LOVE IT! OMGoodness.

parlezvouskiwi said...


I am saving this one!

Jennifer said...

What a cute craft! Wow, I'm new to your blog but this is too adorable!! Ok, youre family is BEAUTIFUL! Happy mother's day!

Kelly Deneen Raymond said...

That is a super cute idea!!! Love it! :)

stephanie said...

I adore fairy-related art! I met a Wendy (Wallin Malinow) when I worked at Barnes & Noble years ago and my kids still have her fairy books & houses in their rooms. We routinely make fairy salads and leave thimble-fulls of water for the Tooth Fairy.


Sharon said...

Oh my goodness, I love this! Just wanted to pop by and say hi! I haven't commented recently, but I haven't posted on my own blog either! I'm still lurking though.

Technodoll said...


I'm 39 and I want one, LOL!

Just wanted to wish you a very lovely Mother's Day ;-)

Unknown said...

I love fairy doors, I have seen them on etsy, now I know how to make one, thanks!

kw said...

Thanks for the tutorial! This is just adorable!

tiarastantrums said...

this is such a nifty little idea!! My girls would love this!

Heather of the EO said...

That's the cutest thing I've ever seen in my whole life!

tiburon said...

That is the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Heather said...

How much did this whole project cost? Round about? I would love to do this!

Jo said...

I am totally in love with the fairy door!