With summer here I thought I would showcase my newest “large” fairy garden. This adorable little beach retreat is my very first commission. I had never done before a beach theme or a commission so there was lots of learning. So here is a sandy stroll through the creation of this paradise.
The first step is always designing the fairy garden and this process was a little harder for me since it was for someone I did not know. There were many ideas and questions to pin point the correct look of the cutie and this process and its difficulty will all be featured in an upcoming post. In the final design, I decided to secure everything in a rectangular base and play off of triangles in the corners to keep symmetry. The color scheme relied on the customer’s request for turquoise and peaches which I then expanded to a lighter shade of turquoise and a tropical orange to have a wider range and balance. Of course, I bought my paint for cheap at Walmart. Finally, the whole vibe of this scene is a relaxation on the beach instead of a beach fairy house or a beach party which would have been very different designs. With all the essentials figured out and my joke of a sketch guiding me, I started on my project.
I went with a metal container because it looks upbeat and beachy. I found it on sale at Micheals which was quite the blessing. It is not too large because my customer wanted the fairy garden to be positioned on her desk. In the end, I had about 10 inches by 6 inches to create my masterpiece which of course caused my original drawing to have to be simplified. I have realized that every time I draw out my design I always jam too much into the container, but that’s okay.
My first object to create was the deck. This was actually the first time I’d ever used balsa wood. For all my other fairy garden’s I just used glued together popsicle sticks, but now I stepped up my game. The balsa wood is a lifesaver and I love it. I wish I learned about it sooner. Ever since I branched out from my Pinterest searches being only fairy gardens and looking more into dollhouse miniatures, I have learned so many cool techniques. The balsa wood was a hassle to cut through because my Xacto knives are pretty dull. That didn’t stop me even though I probably should have just gone and bought more Xacto knives. I had one long piece of balsa wood and had to cut it three different times to create two pieces that would combine to the shape of the deck. One good tip I found for this was I drew out the whole design of my fairy garden on a piece of paper the exact size of my container so I could cut out the pieces to use a guide for my creations. This was a real help and I recommend it if you want to see your fairy garden’s spacial planning before making all your items.
The triangular piece of balsa wood was then raised up by a border of popsicle sticks and also covered on top by popsicle sticks to make the deck look more realistic. I painted the top a white and the sides tropical orange for a pop. I also made stairs for the deck out of the little wooden pieces that come with canvas. These are great to stack up and I painted them the peach color to be a contrast to the tropical orange. On top of the deck, I decided to make two beach chairs. One of them is made out of two shells I found at the beach and cut up skewers as legs. The other chair was designed as a lounge and made out of, you guessed it, popsicle sticks with the top half glued at an angle to look reclined. I stained this chair brown and then put it on small skewer legs. The legs for both of these chairs are the peach color featured in the garden. I just love coordinating such small details. I then used an old cork in-between the chairs as a table and made a green margarita out of a mini glass and green stained Elmers glue. The black camera on the cork table was a pink Polly Pocket camera I had painted. Honestly, my old Polly Pocket toys were a lifesaver when it came to this fairy garden. The purple flip flops found on the deck were also Polly Pocket, and the light blue sunglasses, and the purple snorkel gear, and the blue bag on the sand, and the orange shovel. I think you get the point.
The shinning achievement of my whole beach design and my favorite detail is the blue cooler found on the deck. The actual structure was just made out of popsicle sticks and painted turquoise on the outside and white on the inside. The silver handle is wire twisted and glued into place and I also made a lid that I had leaning on the side of the cooler. The contents of the cooler were a lot of fun to make. The tiny sandwich is made out of clay and featured in detail in an earlier blog post. I put the sandwich in a chopped up plastic bag that I closed up after cutting it smaller by applying heat with the tip of my hot glue gun. You do not have to use actual hot glue to make the edges meld together. I recommend starting with an already smaller plastic bag than the ones you buy at grocery stores. I had so many small ones from when I had ordered Disney pins off of eBay, but I am sure you can find them other places. The Coca-Cola bottle was an old miniature my dad had from when he was a kid. I then made ice cubes. I never knew about this technique before, but I love it now. You can make ice cubes out of hot glue. All you have to do is squeeze out a strip of hot glue and peel it up when it has dried. Then cut up the hot glue into tiny cube sizes and you are done. One thing to keep in mind that I did not think of at first is that since the ice cubes are made out of hot glue, you cannot use hot glue to glue them down or you will melt your ice cubes. I made that mistake at first, so hopefully, you won’t, or you will and laugh and keep on making. I then layered everything and my beautiful cooler was complete. (To be honest, I wanted to keep this little guy.) Finally, the deck was finished out with a light turquoise pale that contained tiny beach shells and a larger shell and barnacle on the other side.
Down in the sand on the right side, I placed three fake air plants that reminded me of beach grass in the corner that I bought cheaply at Michaels. Since my fairy gardens are more about the miniature than the plants, fake plants make my life so much better but only if they are of high quality. In front of the plants, I made a beach towel that I cut out of washcloth fabric that I found at a dollar store. It matched my color scheme perfectly and had an accurate texture for a towel. In the Polly Pocket bag next to the towel I made a small sunscreen bottle with SPF 50 and a book made out of cut up popsicle sticks and printer paper. I then made a sandcastle out of clay with a tiny flag that I will go into more detail about on my future trials in polymer clay post. The scene was finished with more pales, a little crab, and a shovel.
On the other side of the beach, in front of the deck, I made a sign and propped it up with a collection of shells and barnacles. I had all these shells from my brother because he only collected the most pristine shells when he was younger. I always thought that was boring, but they were actually a wonderful balance for my fairy gardens vibrant colors. The sign was a fun reference to the name of the person who commissioned me. The sea glass sailboat was made out of random pieces I had and glued onto a white skewer. The little lifesaver I got from a set of beach miniatures I think I bought at Michaels and it came with the little crab, starfish, and lobster also seen on the beach.
One of my favorite aspects of this garden is the hanging beach garland I created to mask the deck and give the scene more height. This was one of the trickiest parts of my whole design as I tried to figure out how to connect it to the poles and how to make the poles secure with all the weight. Not the forget that I also dropped my garland three different times which resulted in a lot of beads spilling onto the floor. I decided to use a string that resembles clear fishing wire and I made three white skewers for support. I strung two lines of garland with varying sizes of blue beads and seashells with holes. Both of these were found at Hobby Lobby in the charms and bead aisle. I used about 3-5 beads or different sizes and then placed a shell for my design and I tried my best to keep the bead sizes randomly placed. I tied the finished garlands to the poles and used super glue for support. On the right pole, I also made small pointer signs to indicate more beaches with different names. My client wanted some type of reference to mermaids so I named one of the areas Mermaid Cove and made a mermaid tail out of popsicle sticks for added detail. Now the only thing I had left to make was the most important ocean.
My design was for the ocean water to look like it was a wave ending on the sand. I tried many different methods including clear Emler’s glue, but I found that the best one was modeling water that would dry blue. I cut out the shape that I wanted on paper and traced it onto a cheap cookie sheet that I had dedicated to crafting. I then followed the instructions to make a line of glue at the edge of when I wanted my water to end and a poured out my fake water. you have to let it dry for a day and not mess with it, but it worked out wonderfully as I was able to peel it up from the cookie sheet and insert it perfectly into my container. The base of my whole fairy garden is styrofoam that I cut to fit into the rectangle. Since my water is semi-clear I wanted the styrofoam to look more like wet sand underneath. To achieve this I just painted the styrofoam with clear glue and sprinkled some sand on top. I then glued down my fake water with more clear super glue. Since my base was styrofoam, I was able to secure everything down by adding skewers to stick into the styrofoam. Almost everything was secured down except the shovel and of course the sand. I poured the sand in last and smoothed it out to finish my beach fairy garden.
This was a large process for me and an unusually hard one as I tried to work with many new materials like fake water, sand, and hanging beads. I hope I have inspired you to try making your own beach escape now that the summer is here. I know I will be crafting and blogging more with the sun shining and school out. Thanks for reading.