Fine Time for a Fairy Garden


It’s hard to get motivated about even the cutest fairy garden in the world when snow is falling on the leaves you didn’t rake up, but it’s not really my problem. This is a commission piece for a neighbor, and her yard is tidy. She’ll put it out in spring for her new grandchild. It’s about 18 inches wide, carved from a solid block of 2″ mahogany. Mahogany is not only water-resistant (the Coast Guard built cutters out of it for years), it’s also very pretty. It carves well. It’s not the smoothest wood, and most is too coarse for fine detail, but this is a big piece and tiny details wouldn’t read clearly from a distance, no matter what wood I used.

I wanted to show the grain and color of the wood, yet also incorporate color, since it’s a whimsical piece for a child. The pigment is good old Crayola watercolor paint. The top coat is also water based; I think that oil based spar varnish is tougher, but the waterbased finishes are crystal-clear, and all the oil finishes are yellow. They make the wood look richer, and they’d be fine over the leaves, but they’d make the violets brown and the border salmon. Audrey’s fairies do not like salmon.

This is intended for a little girl, of course. Do little boys like fairy gardens? Sure they do, until some bigger boy tells them they shouldn’t. So someday, if baby Audrey has a little brother who scorns violets, Grandma can add the Fairy Motocross, the Fairy Rock Climbing Wall, and the Fairy Skate Park.

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