Mindfulness Meets Playfulness: A Gallery of Faerie Houses

As we age, the pressure to settle down and turn serious builds. Doesn’t play keep us healthy and encourage awareness?

Faerie house at Annmarie Sculpture Garden, Solomon, Maryland  © Clarissa Peterson with CCLicense
Faerie house at Annmarie Sculpture Garden, Solomon, Maryland
© Clarissa Peterson

A faerie house is a miniature structure crafted and/or placed outdoors to shelter real or imaginary creatures. An old stump or a hole in a tree can provide an ideal place for a tiny person to take up residence. This is a traditional craft along the Atlantic seacoast of Maine, where these houses are often made from sustainable, natural materials, including shells, seeds, leaves, rocks, bark and feathers. In the spirit of mindfulness, care is often taken to use things that are already dead and fallen or that won’t be harmed by being part of the faerie house.The structure should be friendly to spiritual and animal occupants, not merely eye candy for human beings. Some designs do incorporate broken pottery, recycled bottles and various man made materials. If you are interested, you can buy a kit or a pre-fab model online, but the experience is so much richer if you collect your own materials and design your own architecture. This is also a great way to learn about your environment and pick up some design, landscaping and construction skills.

Pixie Hollow Fairy House © Jeff Christiansen
Pixie Hollow Fairy House
© Jeff Christiansen

Here are some enchanting creations made by garden designers and artists. If you would like to see more of their work, please click on the links to investigate further.

Garden Walk, Garden Talk
“Nestled among the calamintha nepeta, fairies will always be minty fresh… maple leaf interior floors and an elegant maple bark exterior entry. Another impeccably designed two-story with a very high presence. The pear-leaf flag waves at the roof top peak to signal the call to fairy frivolity within.” 
© DonnaGWGT

An experienced Master Gardener and architect in Niagara Falls, Donna has a wonderful blog at Garden Walk, Garden Talk that shares the beauty of the gardens and scenery near her home. These fairy houses that she built for a client truly show off her love of the environment and her architecture background. Please take time to see the full post here— it’s delightful, written as an ad for the discerning fairy– and read more on her amazing blog. Lovely humor adds to the whimsy and charm of these elegant little houses.

“For rent: Dreamy cottage in a very picturesque spot amongst the wandering pink phlox. This beauty sports a high ceiling front parlor with a Swiss Chalet feel. It sits nestled among a flower garden on a huge oak leaf, and as any cosmopolitan fairy knows, oaks are safe havens for a wide variety of fairies.”
© DonnaGWGT
 Applied Imagination
Fairy's Stump © Applied Imagination, Ltd
Fairy’s Stump
© Applied Imagination, Ltd

Founded by Paul Busse in 1991, Applied Imagination, Ltd, makes railroad displays for outdoor gardens using natural materials. Their award-winning work has been seen all over the country, notably at New York Botanical Garden, United States Botanic Garden in Washington D.C., Chicago Botanic Garden, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Atlanta Botanic Garden, New Orleans Botanical Garden, Bellagio Conservatory in Las Vegas, and The State Fair of Texas. Paul, who lives in Kentucky, struggles with Parkinson’s Disease and is now retired, but remains involved in the creative process. This piece from the New York Times will tell you much more about him. His love for trains and gardens and his background in landscape design have shaped a vibrant and innovative company. The craftsmanship is spectacular.

Fairy House © Applied Imagination, Ltd
Fairy House
© Applied Imagination, Ltd
Fairy Picnic Gazebo
Fairy Picnic Gazebo
© Applied Imagination, Ltd

Applied Imagination’s fantastic creations include ostentatious palaces and simple designs. Fairy houses are only a small part of their output, which includes architectural models of famous structures, such as the Hagia Sophia and the Great Wall of China, as well as fairy tale locales like Rapunzel’s Tower and the Straw House from the Three Little Pigs. Long live imagination!!

Pumpkin House © Applied Imagination, Ltd
Pumpkin House
© Applied Imagination, Ltd
 Sally J. Smith
Autumn Fairy House © Sally J. Smith
Autumn Fairy House
© Sally J. Smith

When it comes to creating magic, Sally J. Smith is a monumental talent. Sally began as a watercolor painter, which perhaps contributes to the light touch and ethereal qualities of her creations. In 2007 she began a new chapter in her artistic journey, the creation of environmental art. Since then, her Faerie Houses and Eartherials–sculptures that combine earthy qualities with otherworldly ones– have inspired quite an audience. She makes her home in the Adirondacks of upstate New York, near Lake Champlain.

Forest Mossy Palace © Sally J. Smith
Forest Mossy Palace
© Sally J. Smith
Bellflower House  © Sally J. Smith
Bellflower House
© Sally J. Smith

Sally creates beautiful and thoughtful work that is completely at home in its environment. If you can’t see it in person, she has a delightful set of calendars and cards available on her website, Greenspirit Arts. It is terrific showcase of her work.

Emerald Moss House © Sally J. Smith
Emerald Moss House
© Sally J. Smith
Brookwater Tea House © Sally J. Smith
Brookwater Tea House
© Sally J. Smith

You don’t have to believe in faeries to enjoy the process or to enjoy looking at these delightful and frequently whimsical designs. Like many other arts, building faerie houses gives us the chance to contemplate things that we might never think about. Anything that enlarges our awareness and understanding of our planet and the creatures who share it with us is valuable.

Western society tells us that faeries are kid stuff and should be put away by grown-ups, like cartoons and stuffed animals. Thankfully, some of those rules are loosening, but you are still going to get funny looks in many circles if you cart your teddy bear to work or sport a My Little Pony lunchbox. We seem to think that people who retain or pursue such childhood connections lack the maturity to make practical decisions. I wonder if the reason we make poor decisions, such as basing our economies on technologies that poison the planet, comes from putting people in charge who lack imagination and the ability to play well with others. What harm can be done by cultivating enchantment?

I’m planning on creating some faerie houses in my yard this spring. How about you?

Images are used in accordance with Fair Use Policies for educational purposes.

1 thought on “Mindfulness Meets Playfulness: A Gallery of Faerie Houses

  1. katmcdaniel Reply

    Reblogged this on synkroniciti and commented:

    Here’s an oldie that explores the wonder of Faerie Houses. Makes me want to spend some time in the woods!

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