Sunday, July 10, 2016

Fairy Houses and Gnome Homes

In the tiny hamlet of Shushan NY, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you can find the Georgi on the Battenkill Community Park and Museum.  I learned that the Georgi, while currently closed for renovations, had an exhibit of fairy houses scattered throughout the park.  The display will only be there a few days longer, so I wanted to see it.  Shushan is about a 50 minute drive from my home, along winding country roads, and my friend who was going to go with me canceled, so I went alone.  Good thing!  She would NOT have been patient with me, for two hours in 90 degree heat, laying on the ground taking pictures of the fairy and gnome dwellings!  Above is my favorite of the houses.  Shortly after I took this pic above and turned off my camera, a chipmunk appeared next to it, but as soon as I got my camera back on, he scampered off into the bushes and chattered at me!

Below, one of a collection of tiny fairy mailboxes clustered at the base of a tree, all filled with tiny letters!
 There was an interesting house made from a gourd, and when you looked inside there were little benches arranged in a circle.  
And by another tree, there was an adorable arrangement with a wishing well and a pot full of "gold" wishing balls, as well as a fairy street signpost, and other little signs here and there.  I made a wish that I hope will come true!
I've never made fairy or gnome houses, but my third graders built papier-mache garden gnomes a few years ago (just before I retired), one of my absolute favorite projects.  Here's a couple from that time that I really loved.  Each gnome was unique; some had bows and arrows, baskets for gardening, fishing poles, and so much more, all out of the imagination of my third graders!
I'm hoping my DragonWing Arts students will make some more of these, this coming winter.  Maybe we'll make some homes for them too!  I'll have to figure out how to do that, inside in the winter.  Or maybe just make collages of their homes?  Using a lot of natural materials?  What do you think?  Giant fake gardens in the middle of winter?

 Back to the display at the Georgi...  There was a collection of pretty little houses all scattered around a "garden", complete with a swing, a table, and so much more.  Many of these houses had little back porches and back doors, too.
 Then there was this odd little collection of fairies, tucked all over the place.  
I mean, what is this cork thing?  A fairy-catcher?
 And there were interesting things hanging from trees, and so much more.
 There were lots of strings of lights, plus lights planted in the ground.  I wonder when they are illuminated, since the park closes at dusk.  I think it would be really pretty to visit the fairy houses at a misty dusk or dawn, all twinkling with little lights.
 Lots of little stone "owls" were tucked into trees  here and there.
 The park is located on the Battenkill River; there's a lovely little swimming hole, plus the Battenkill is a great spot for fishing.  The location of Shushan and the Battenkill is in eastern NY, just a few miles from the Vermont border, in lush rural countryside.  Here are a few shots that show the environment.  I'm including all three photos because I'm having trouble picking a favorite!!!
 Have you ever built fairy houses or gnome homes?  I'm interested in hearing about different approaches to incorporating these environmental displays in an art program.  Unfortunately, it's not always easy to bring students outside.  For example, before I retired, my classroom was on the second floor, about a 10 minute walk from the only door we were allowed to exit and enter during the school day!  It was simply impractical to take kids outside, because it didn't leave much time for actually making art.  I preferred the first floor location of a former art room, where we could simply walk outside and sit with drawing boards. 
I'd love to hear from you if you've got any fairy house experience!!


  1. I love these, thank you for taking time to photograph everything.
    I believe the cork is for making a whirling derbishire instead of putting the figure on a stick. I could make an army.

    1. A whirling dervish! Why didn't I think of that! Thank you!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. What a fun exhibit! Thanks for sharing. Funny how we, as teachers (even retired ones) spend part of each summer thinking about art kids might make in the winter!! I imagine that to do something like this with a class you would have to give kids time to "forage and gather" either as a class or on their own out and about before actually building their houses.

    1. Yes, that could be fun, to see what they bring!