Storybook Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall & Gardens
June 25 – September 4, 2017
“The Life of the Fisher Fairy”
by Sue Beardsley
Inspired by The Fisherman and the Fish by Pushkin
The inspiration for this piece is many-fold. I love the ocean and wanted to use that idea in the fairy-tale; Pushkin’s tale “The Fisherman and the Fish” is perfect. We have a houseboat in Woods Hole; and this top portion of the piece was part of the Fairy House exhibit several years ago. I added a reef of metal and glass because of course boats need an ocean to float on.
I have always loved Russian literature, and when I saw that Pushkin’s story featured fish and drama, I knew it was the right selection.
Some of the “found” items in this piece:
The Ocean is made from hedge trimmers; fireplace tongs; glass fish from Israel; curtain rings; gears; throwaways from the refurbishing of the Sea Crest; bicycle sprockets; broken vase and the ends of glass blowings from Pairpoint in Sandwich.
The Houseboat is made from birch scrapings; fungus; scallions; aluminum sprockets; brass fittings; blue light from an electrical piece. The seagull was a broken ceramic ornament.
by Jackie deRuyter
Inspired by Fiddler on the Roof
Music is a constant presence. It is a language that crosses seemingly impenetrable borders and is capable of communicating far more than words. We can use it to reinforce our beliefs, cultures and identities, or we can use it to explore new ideas and experiences. However, we choose to interact with the music around us, we can be sure that it will always be there and it will speak to us and through us if we allow it to.
I choose to work with fiber for its versatility. Fabric can be layered, stitched, painted and reassembled into a three dimensional object. I work intuitively, letting color and texture guide the process. Layering many different materials and techniques creates depth and dimension in my final pieces.
by Annie Dean
Inspired by The Magic Jar by Yangsook Choi and The Name Jar by Lindan Lee Johnson
Two children’s books that have stories that feature jars inspired my house. They are not well- known books, but resonate with me because I have used jars many times in my life for unusual purposes. Currently, I use a jar to hold strips of paper on which I write wonderful memories. As a writer, I sometimes need a good idea for a story. I reach into the jar and always find something interesting to write about!
I created the house by first making a wire armature; I applied hand-made mulberry pulp paper onto the armature, shaping it as the paper dried. I embellished the structure with objects from my childhood, including jewelry from K-mart, fur from my great aunt’s stole, rocks from fairy stone national park in Virginia, my teenage mood ring – all kinds of things. The fairies spend most of the time away from home, thus the empty coat hangers. They take pearl shower baths, are attentive to time, sleep in sheepskin beds, and love to collect natural objects and incorporate them in their home. As you can see, the fairies love sparkly things as they have my mother’s jewelry stored in their jar.
by Ramune Jauniskis
Inspired by Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Summed up in a few words, I make meticulously handcrafted, whimsical, fiber, felted and ceramic treasures. When I’m not making mermaids of fairies I am a Reiki practitioner which I also greatly enjoy.
…Let’s see… What was my inspiration for my fairy house? It’s so many things. Alice in Wonderland has always been a favorite story because of the magical, whimsical imagery that it has…oh yeah, I also really like mushrooms. The name for my house came from the Movie starring Jonny Depp who I love, though I didn’t love the movie but I did love this little dance that he did at the end of the movie in fact it was worth the price of admission just to see him do that dance and the name of the dance is Futterwacken.
What supplies did I use… a shorter list may be supplies that I didn’t use but here goes: fabric, Fast2Fuse interfacing, hand dyed velvet, wire, paint, ink, stamens, shells, acrylic caulk, string, plaster wrap, model magic, lace, Angelina fiber, stuffing, silk ribbon, lights, a little bit of magic and a lot of love.
by Salley Mavor
Inspired by The Borrowers from Mary Norton
My fairy house, Grate Hall uses the same concept of re-purposing household items to make and furnish a small scale shelter. The cheese graters and whisk were saved when cleaning out a departed relative’s kitchen supplies and the single glove was found in a box of my grandmother’s lace memorabilia. Other parts include old door knob plates and a chandelier crystal. The overall structure is held together with wire that is covered with pieces of felt. Branches pruned from blueberry bushes cover the roof and the door is decorated with carved bone charms.
Using found objects is like editing a poem — it’s always challenging to decide what to include and what to leave out. Many very cool items were rejected in the process and they will just have to wait for another opportunity to shine. It is my distinct pleasure to offer a glimpse into my imagination and to share in the fairy house magic at Highfield Hall this summer!
by Amanda Wastrom
Inspired by The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Narnia, the land where it’s “always winter, never Christmas,” can be a cold, dreary, unfriendly place. So, like all of the enchanted animals of Narnia, the fairies are a pretty hardy lot. They collect all kinds of treasures—wool sweaters, old t-shirts, bits of fur, lost jewels, dried flowers and branches— to make their houses toasty warm, happy, and yes, pretty, too. One does want a hint of sparkle; don’t you agree? With the White Witch always on the prowl, the Narnia fairies keep themselves well hidden. Their houses are in the trees and white as the snow that surrounds them.
Amanda Wastrom is an artist based in East Sandwich, where she lives with her husband and kids, a flock of chickens, an overgrown garden, and some feisty honeybees. With a background in education, art, and history, she also works as a writer, curator and designer for museums and galleries throughout the region.
by Kathleen Hall
Inspired by McElligots Pool by Dr. Suess
Just like the young boy in the Dr. Seuss story McElligots Pool, the fairies are excited to go fishing in their little pond. After all, the pond is deep and connects to the stream which connects to the river that connects to the lake that connects to the ocean, so who knows what type of fish you could catch (if you’re patient!)
Kathleen Hall is a Falmouth artist well known for Face Painting at various events. She is in the process of opening a small home gallery this summer to showcase her other paintings. While she hasn’t spotted any fairies, she has seen angels!
“Ariel’s Aquatic Abodes”
by Kimberly Sheerin
Inspired by The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson
My Inspiration for creating a Fairy Village based on The Little Mermaid came from my daughter, Phoebe’s participation, in the musical last fall. Ariel and her 6 sisters, Aquata, Andrina, Ariana, Attina, Adela and Alana each have their own Fairy House!! If you count the sea stars on each house, you might be able to figure out whose House belongs to which Mermaid sister!
I enjoy creating my Fairy Houses on my pottery wheel at The Barn Pottery in Pocasset. Join me for a workshop or class and make your own! I teach 8 weeks of Children’s Summer Workshops and Adults year round.
“The Fairy Wheel”
by Susan Jackson
Inspired by Corgiville Fair by Tasha Tudor
The Ferris wheel in Tasha Tudor’s classic children’s book Corgiville Fair appears without mention or fanfare in the double page watercolor of a busy county fair which is run and frequented by dogs. Although the wheel is a tiny image in the hazy distance, it still manages to impart the sensations of fun and wonder. After reading this book aloud to my children, I recall asking myself,” Was there a Ferris Wheel in that wonderful story, or was it merely an illusion borne of my imagination?”
So it is within the fairy world: its beings are unbidden and elusive, making themselves known only at the periphery of one’s vision or hidden away in a childhood memory.
As an elementary school teacher, mother of four, and grandmother of seven, my belief in the restorative power of imaginative play, especially when it is outside in the natural world, has been continually strengthened. The Fairy Wheel was constructed using primarily an assortment of bark, acorns, moss, lichen, beach grass, pine cones, preserved leaves, and seedpods. The Fairy Wheel, however, is a bit different in this regard. It has as its base an ancient metal wheel found years ago in my grandmother Bess’s attic.
by Bobbi Bailin
Inspired by Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
I can’t stop thinking about Winnie the Pooh stuck in Rabbit’s hole after gorging himself on way too much honey. Just like bears of little brains and us humans, fairies also overeat sometimes and get very round in the belly. Maybe they too get stuck in a doorway of their home. At any time, you may just catch a glimpse of the north or south end of an overstuffed fairy sticking out of a knothole of largish or smallish dimension.
Bobbi Bailin is a paper artist who loves Nature and always includes graceful bits of local seaweed, leaves and grasses in her paper collage works. She is also an international teacher of Sacred Circle Dance and a practitioner of the Alexander Technique of body awareness. She sometimes overeats but hasn’t yet been stuck in a doorway.
“In Full Bloom”
by Nancy Murphy & Mary Ellen McLoughlin
Inspired by The Language of Flowers by Vaness Diffenbaugh
Nancy Murphy and Mary Ellen McLoughlin both have backgrounds in Nursing, however, for a number of years they owned and operated a floral design business. Although they no longer work in that business, they still love, enjoy and are inspired by flowers. The book that has inspired their fairy house is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. In this immensely engaging novel, the leading character uses flowers to convey messages. At some point she realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.
By combining Mary Ellen and Nancy’s passion for flowers and integrating the concepts of the book, they have chosen to build a fairy house that is reminiscent of a floral shop.
“Sparkles & Sass”
by Linda & Sophia Steele
Inspired by Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
It has always been a true delight and joy to read a book with each of my children, first the turning of the pages together and then letting our imaginations soar as we discuss our impressions of the story. It was so much fun for my youngest daughter Sophia and I to create a Fairy House as we imagined a place we thought the main character would appreciate and feel comfortable in. Almost every item on our Fairy House is made from either reclaimed or recycled materials. We used objects we gathered from the wooded path we take on our walks to the Marsh, lattice from a discarded beach fence for the basic structure of our walls and roof, an old drawer that held knick knacks for the back wall and the gems we used to bring in the sparkle were from a craft box that has been stored in our basement as well as a few items from an old doll house like the hat, sunglasses, and pet dog.
Linda has exhibited numerous works of art in recent years often incorporating reclaimed and recycled materials as well as the use of multimedia. Most recently she had works displayed at two juried exhibits “Fire” and “Home “at Cotuit Art Center. She felt called to create a Fairy house with her daughter Sophia Steele for this year’s exhibit after writing an article for The Enterprise about the Fairy House Exhibit.
The joy of reading and creating things together has been a long passion they have shared as Mom and Daughter therefore a fairy house exhibit inspired by storybooks became a fun opportunity for them to work on this unique fairy house together.
“The Sparrow Post”
by Sally Egan
Inspiration from authors Tasha Tudor, Beatrix Potter & Flora Thompson
My one weakness might be how much I love words, especially when written down in books and letters, so I chose to build a Fairy Post Office, constructed from allusions to the many books of my childhood. I narrowed influences down to four amazing women authors: Flora Thompson, Louisa May Alcott, Tasha Tudor and Beatrix Potter. I built this Post Office to hold parcels, letters and loads of invitations that children will be sending and receiving in summer classes here at
Highfield. Naturally it must have a postmistress in charge of keeping secret letters safely sealed, and happy parcels delivered unbroken. Here is my nod to Flora Thompson’s Larkrise to Candleford, and Dorcas Lane, the literary post mistress whose very many “one weaknesses” pull together to create a wonderfully solid character.
My earliest memories of “reading” come from scanning illustrations while listening to someone reading the text. Tasha Tudor and Beatrix Potter’s illustrations made for thrilling picture reading! Every detail in their illustrations tells a little story. I’ve christened this fairy house The Sparrow Post in honor of Tasha Tudor, and its literary lost and found clothesline is a nod to Mrs. Tiggywinkle, one of Beatrix Potter’s best-loved characters. I can imagine that Dorcas Lane and Mrs. Tiggywinkle would be very good friends to the hardworking sparrows who carry the mailbags.
Eventually I became a reader myself, and, like many bookworms, loved everything I read; it was a sad day when I first put down a book thinking it was not very good. That day, the world grew sharper edges and got a little bit unfriendly. This fairy house takes its inspiration from the time before I began to read critically, and is homage to everything I read and loved as a child.
My house pays tribute to Little Women, one of the last books I remember loving completely. In Little Women there is a chapter titled Castles in the Air. It’s one of Louisa May’s “improving” chapters that many readers pass over as dull. They shouldn’t! Laurie’s struggle with indolence and lack of focus, and each girl’s worry and self-doubt make these characters so real, so appealing and such dear friends to me. Like Jo, I have known for a long time that “I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.” I think everyone who wanders through Highfield Hall’s gardens this summer, will share the wistful, airy dreams of the March sisters: “Wouldn’t it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true, and we could live in them?”
“Pretty Princess Pilar’s Palace”
by Jim Bowen & Pilar Arce-Bowen
Inspired by My Mosaic Alphabet Book by Jim Bowen
As we explore the pages of “My Mosaic Alphabet Book”, the letter “P” possesses a poem that proceeds like this:
“Pretty Princess Pilar prefers peas and pumpkins to peppers and pears in her stew, when she provides provisions for her palace in Peru”.
Please take pleasure to peek inside the portal and ponder the possibility that pretty fairies are playing peekaboo around a precious pendant in the parlor of the princess’s palace.
Jim Bowen, at the age of ten, broke his mother’s treasured china teacup, which he secretly glued back together thinking that she would never suspect his misdeed. Thirty years later, his wife Debbie asked him to break some old plates and create a mosaic table to sell at Bojangles, her funky boutique. From that moment on, his artistic fate was sealed!
Following his passion of introducing people of all ages to the art of mosaics, Bowen was a professor of mosaic art at Cape Cod Community College. He has also created numerous mosaic murals while leading community art projects.
Presently he is working with his Granddaughter, Pilar as she explores her artistic side. By the way, years later Jim’s mom told him that she always knew that he had broken that cup!
“Be Careful What You Wish For”
by Nancy Porter, Susan Fuller & Emeline Porter
Inspired by Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel
My inspiration came from the garden initiatives at Highfield. When I heard one of our objectives was water sustainability, an image of a wishing well popped to mind.
I used a wishing well planter kit that I painted with three colors to ‘age’ the wood. I had Plexiglas cut to create a water layer and treasure layer. My grandchildren gathered bits and pieces they found, and my sister donated baubles and bobs to attach. Some of the stones on the ground are photo-luminescent.
As a child, I devoured the Borrowers series, with its tales of little people living by their wits under the floorboards. I can still remember the book’s descriptions of making a bed out of a discarded match box and fashioning a table from a wooden spool. The whole premise sparked my imagination then and still feeds into just about everything I make today, from my work in children’s book illustration to the creation of my wee folk world.
“Where the Fairy Things Are”
by Cynthia Rose
Inspired by Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
BE STILL! At bedtime, the book is opened, the words are spoken and magic spins –forming a tiny Fairy kingdom. After several inquiries, the designer Cynthia Rose, also known as Tall Fairy to the Little People, has learned Fairies cannot always read the printed word, but their stories are embedded in play and imagination. From that their world springs.
In celebration of their return, Tall Fairy used thread and natural materials to build this storyhouse. Many of the landscape materials and stones are returning from prior installations at HIghfield Hall, The crystal garden 2014 and Eilonwy’s house 2015. The roof is fern frond, bamboo and twigs.
Cynthia Rose of Searose Design enjoys environmental art and visual arts so much it is play for her. She is a landscape designer, consultant and gardener on Paradise Island and Falmouth. Her life work is connecting people to nature.
by Julie Child
Inspired from many stories with naughty characters such as bad fairies. wicked stepmothers, ogres, wicked giants and big bad wolves
I am trained as a biological/medical illustrator, and teach Nature Drawing in the off-season in Woods Hole. For this house I wanted to focus on the very bad fairies in the Fairy Tales we all grew up with. Fairy tales certainly would be very dull without them. It also gives me a chance to use some of my skulls, other bones, feathers, arthropods, and seedpods in my collection, the ones that aren’t in good enough shape to draw from.
by Ron Geering
Inspired by Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett
I’ve always admired Jan Brett’s work. Her use of folkloric motifs and attention to details are exquisite. I stumbled across “Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve” ( a retelling of a Norwegian folktale) and bought it for my grandchildren. By the time I read it, I knew I had to have a copy too. I love the carved wooden details around the page edges and the trolls materializing from the Aurora in the sky.
I’ve been to Norway a number of times and admired their preserved rural architecture. Last Winter we traveled to the old mining town of Roros, in the mountains of Norway, for their Winter Market; which has been held since medieval times. People travel for weeks on horse drawn sleds to attend. This year there were almost 100 of them. They spend a joyous week in Roros selling goods, playing music, singing, dancing, drinking and eating; mostly outdoors in ancient wooden courtyards. A wonderful time!
My “faerie house” is more suited for a small troll or a grumpy tomten. Its construction is a crude version of the style of wood building used in storage buildings (stabor) and Stave churches in orway.
“Flavilla Sparkle Fly’s Air B&B”
by Angela Tanner
Inspired by The Light Princess by George MacDonald
Flavilla Sparkle Fly opened her Air B&B as a place for weary travelers to rest their wings. Nestled in the branches of a pine tree, the floating bed and breakfast features cocoons, pods and nests to suit the preferences of even the most finicky fairies. Comfort is Flavilla’s first priority—she lines the sleeping pods with mosses, feathers, and beech fluff. Her second priority is to provide guests with sparkle, magic and light to restore energy levels. This Air B&B was inspired by George MacDonald’s story ‘The Light Princess’. In the story, the princess is light because she has no gravity. She floats. Because Miss Sparkle Fly loves to play with light–and with words– the floating structure is also a chandelier, meant to catch sunlight, moonlight, and starlight.
Angela Tanner is a designer at Jenick Studio, a Landscape Architecture firm specializing in contemporary design, conservation and ecological restoration. When she isn’t designing landscapes, she creates jewelry, art, and stories under the pseudonym The Bauble Garden.
by Toby Lorenzen & Bob Beardsley
Inspired by Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
About Torben Lorenzen
“Once upon a time long, long ago I was a computer science professor (some called me a computer wizard) in a far land beyond the bridge (BSU). I awoke from an enchantment there after decades and decades and have been chasing Muses along the beach ever since. My wooden vessels have been exhibited at BSU, Yarmouth Cultural Center and Falmouth Art Center. This is my second appearance among Highfield’s fairy houses.”
About Bob Beardsley
“After arriving here as an oceanographer at WHOI in 1975, I started walking my dogs on Chapoquoit happy beach and collecting shells and later went to sea and began to see the stuff floating on the ocean. Percy Jackson introduced me to the amazing world of fairies which came alive in the Highfield fairy house presentations.”
by Skee Houghton
Inspired by The Princess & The Goblin (1872) by George MacDonald
I liked The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald, since first discovering it about 25 years ago. It has all the elements of a classic fairy tale but seems to be largely overlooked today (first published in 1872). I was inspired by the combination of (1) the community of miners living on the side of a mountain, (2) goblins, and (3) the shapes and faces that lurk in the belowground roots of old tree stumps.
by Terry Soares & Garden Volunteers
Inspired by Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Peters Paradise is our re-imagined version of Peter Rabbit. This was a true group effort with the garden volunteers giving time, ideas, materials and plants from their own gardens to make this special scene. Every week for the last six weeks we would add another feature to the garden. Ours is unique in that we planted an actual garden for the Fairy House display! This was such a fun project to work on with a very dedicated group of volunteers!
“Crystal Carriage House”
by Anna Holmes
Inspired by Cinderella by Charles Perrault
There is lots of bling to this Cinderella’s Abode. Sparkles, pearls, rhinestones and crystals. She loves all that glitters with a classic design influence.
Anna is the proprietor of Flowers by Anna and creates many of the magnificent arrangements that grace the tables of Highfield Hall.
“Southern Wit and Fiddly Bits”
by Sarah Peters
Inspired by The Adventures of Brer Rabbit as told by Julius Lester
Brer Rabbit is a master of trickery. He is cunning and not altogether scrupulous. He has to be! It’s a dog-eat-rabbit world out there! He knows how to weave a persuasive tale, and he uses that talent to better his chances of survival. So far, it’s served him well. The fairies at #25 understand self-preservation and making the most of a situation. Like Brer Rabbit, they, too, can be very persuasive. They could trade you a Lima bean for the keys to your car, and you’d feel all the better for it!
These feisty fairies have come to New England from rural southern parts, tempted by intriguing postcards and travel supplements, word of mouth and wanderlust. They have collected many things along the way, marvelous things! They couldn’t really help themselves, what with the bits and bobs just lying about unattended. During their travels, they’d pore over municipal dumps and vacated ramshackle shacks to gather useful things. They’d happen upon forgotten objects and occasionally “borrow” items that seemed unappreciated or neglected by their former owners. You may wonder why you never found that popped button or that pearl from a broken chain, but don’t you worry, they are likely being put to good use.
Today we have rather unflattering terms for persons with these collecting habits; Pack Rats, Scavengers, Magpies…, but these fairies like to call themselves, simply, Caretakers. So don’t you hang your head if some old whatnot or thingamabob goes missing, because no none will treasure it more than the fairies of # 25.
Dedicated to the memory of Jerome “Poppy” Dean, 1935-2017. He was a true original, and one of the very best Caretakers this world has ever known.