Enchanted Forest

These past couple weeks, I’ve led several summer camps for kids. There were two weeks of Cook n Art “Roadtrip Across America” edition, a camp about Monsters, and a dream class called Enchanted Forest. I want to share some projects from Enchanted, because I was so impressed by the eleven girls I worked with, aged 5-10. We made fairy jars, nature collages, and on Friday we had a fairy tea party. The girls got to dip their feet in the magical world of fairy gardens:

Fun mossy creations

We planted succulents, moss and rosemary sprigs in flower saucers. Toadstools were painted pebbles… they look quite convincing! As miniature fixtures, the girls created gazing balls with golf tees and Christmas ornaments and bird baths with shells glued onto pen caps. They each got to choose a garden critter. The construction of fairy furniture was the most trying bit. If you want a group of frustrated children, try teaching them to lash together 3-inch twigs.

Gnome and toadstool garland

Another fun day was when we painted different patterns on paper using three techniques (dotting, sponging, scraping). When they were dry we cut out toadstool and gnome pieces and put them together in a garland.

The lovely kids carefully sprucing up their fairy room boxes

But the créme de la créme was definitely the fairy houses we made. I considered making an exterior-only fairy house. Eh, but then I thought–how much more fun would it be to have the girls create the interior of a fairy studio apartment! I had the correct instinct that my class was burgeoning with little interior designers. I want to share each girl’s box, because I think they’re brilliant.

Outside and inside of Natasha's box

Each room-box was fashioned out of a shoebox, fortified with extra pieces of cardboard. The girls painted the walls, and then collaged the back of the box with brown paper bark, pages from an old book, and fake leaves and flowers.

Jade's house and her cheerful fairy

After we furnished the rooms, the girls also made fairy dolls. One of the girls said, “But why are we making a doll? I thought real fairies were going to live in our house.” I considered the best response to this, and some of the other girls helped me out with their own explanations. “Of course the fairies are going to live in the house! The doll is to give them the right idea” or “The doll is going to be the fairy’s friend.” I encouraged the girls to leave some food out to attract the real fairies. The girls also liked the idea of attaching bells to attract the fairies. “If you build it, she will come…”

Rhea's house... "Fairies Only!"

I also encouraged the girls to write ads for their rooms and post them on Fairy Craigslist in the housing section. Lately I’ve been conducting my own housing search, moving to Pittsburgh, so I had it on the brain. I’m also in the process of shedding all my extra art supplies and odds and ends before I move, which is why the girls’ houses became a little cluttered. “Here, take this and this and this… please, take it!”

Aditi's house

Looking for a special fairy to rent my room! **Cozy one br fully furnished**Colorfully painted walls, cardboard floors**Newly renovated kitchen and bathroom with spacious refrigerator, sink and toilet**Comes with use of your own private fairy garden**Very affordable 25cents/a month+ utilities** Security deposit is three wishes and a bag of fairy dust**Pets okay, just no spiders. IMMEDIATE MOVE IN AVAILABLE!!!

Lauren's fairy chilling in her new pad

I love it, though, that each house came out a little different. I appreciated the crazy rooms with lots going on, just as much as the more elegant, neatly organized spaces. By the way, lots of the cardboard I used was already cute, printed with toadstools and pretty patterns. These came from the shipping boxes used by ModCloth. Not only will you get cute clothes, but also cute cardboard.

Amanda's box... her fairy looks like she just had a big cup of fairy coffee!

I gave the girls access to pretty much my whole collection of miniature wall decor. Stamps became posters and shiny mylar became mirrors. I also obsessively cut out the small sample images on the backs of calendars. I had a Cicely Mary Barker calendar that I had cut apart and used to decorate the room. It was a nice tie-in that the girls all got mini versions of the calendar pages.

Vianna's fairy admiring her wall art

Other favorite accessories were drink umbrellas. I showed the girls how to make vases out of wooden beads and fake flower buds. I also had weird little plastic boxes that I had purchased from a teacher supply store and didn’t know what to do with. I gave them to the girls and they turned them into tabletops, laptops and TVs and fridges, pet beds and even very luxurious looking arm chairs!

Here you can see the inside and outside of Nivedita's box

I also had the idea for them to make sinks out of white plastic trays that Christmas ornaments came in. Corks were also hot commodities… which gives me an excuse to drink some more wine. And I kept meaning to bring beer bottle caps, because those I have in plenitude.

Shaily's fairy is a rocker

“What kind of fairy is going to live in your house? What are her interests?” I encouraged each girl to put some individuality in her room. Of course, the girls were also looking at what others did and getting ideas… which is pretty cool, and that’s the real benefit of taking an art class!

Kaitlyn was the oldest girl in the class... I love her fairy's pet lady bug!

One trend that tickled me was that the girls wanted to create toilets and add them to the rooms. I had some round plastic containers with lids that served this purpose. They even made toilet paper rolls, though some of these were giant in proportion because they were thread spools. A fairy’s gotta go when she’s gotta go. I stopped myself from suggesting that they make fairy poo to go inside the toilets… maybe that would be going too far, but I’d love to see it.

Samirah was the trendsetter with her fairy room

This was a project that really occupied the girls for hours… they were intensely focused. I think I got some of them really interested in making more miniature scenes. I like to think that from now on they will see potential in every bottle cap and thread spool.