Introduction: A Waterproof Fairy for an Outdoor Christmas Tree

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Living in a small cottage, three years ago I decided to do away with the idea of having a Christmas Tree in the house, and since then, the little fir tree Picea Pungens 'Lucky Strike' gets moved, in its large tub, onto a garden table and looks in at us through the living room window for the twelve days of Christmas.  With some LED lights, it looks great, and we're no longer falling over it.  Only the fairy was unhappy.  I'd made her a few years before, and there was just no way she was going to stand up to rain and frost.  So it's finally time to give her a make-over.  Nobody reading this will be in the exact same situation, but I hope it inspires you to create.

I used:  All Weather Sealant (clear mastic that you'd usually use for greenhouse repairs etc.);  Yellow PVC electrical insulating tape; masking tape; acrylic varnish

Step 1:

Here's the fairy.  I made her about 6 years ago I think.  She's a bit mad looking, looks like the Crazed version of Maria in the film Metropolis... but that's why we love her.  And she's rather battered after all that time.  Let's bite the bullet and see how I made her...

Step 2:

One naked fairy.  Don't blush for her, fairies are very liberated.  The bits of paper were from a mixed craft shop packet of gold papers, and this photo might help you if you were making an indoor fairy. 

But that's not what this instructible is about.  Look at the figure.  It's based on traditional dolls made from very old fashioned clothes pegs, which are commonly known as "dolly pegs" for this reason.  You can buy them on ebay etc. but only in packets of a half dozen or so and I don't like spending money.  I've used a piece of dowelling.  It's a cross piece from a broken kitchen chair, so it's a decent bit of beechwood.  It has a slighty smaller diameter than a dolly peg.  I've cut the neck and rounded the head, probably doing the heavy work with a Dremel tool and a little finishing with a pen knife.  On one "side" the head is flattened on either side of a central strip which then forms the nose.  Then the bit below the nose is flattened and a tiny drill in the Dremel tool has been used to "carve" or really just suggest, the mouth and eyes.  

She's painted with acrylic paints and patience.  Hair is gold thread from a craft shop - this type seems to have a core of cotton wrapped in metallic outer sheath.  And now I can see how I've made the "body":  All she needed to give her dress volume was shoulders.  I've made them from two blobs of Milliput two part epoxy clay.  The paint goes down onto the chest to allow for the v-neck dress.  You could mould on a bust if you wanted her to be more nubile.  The arms are cardboad, about 1.5mm thick, cut from (I'm guessing) something like the stiffened envelopes you might get a photograph or certificate delived in.  A hole has been drilled at the bottom end of the dowelling and a piece of green coated garden wire glued in.

Step 3:

I used acrylic varnish to seal anything that water might damage:  the join between the Milliput and the wood; the cardboard arms; and the top of the head where the hair was glued on.  OK, she's not going to be truly water _proof_ but she will be weather resistant, and dried off fully before she goes into storage for most of the year.  Note that I'm working on a carrier bag - MUCH better than newspaper, because few things stick to it.  Left to dry overnight.

Step 4:

My concept is to have the fairy wearing a sou'wester.  I do a little research and learn that that's just the hat, the full term for what's in my head is "Oilskin and sou'wester."  I searched for "sou'wester" in Yahoo image searchto find a good reference picture.  I'd have liked a small piece of day-glo yellow PVC, but could not find anything, so I bought a roll of electical insulation tape.  Cost me less than 4 quid including P&P.  I laid strips on the table, sticky side up, taping each one down with the paper masking tape, and overlapping each one by about 2 mm.  It was fiddly, mostly because my masking tape did not want to stick to my beeswaxed table.

Step 5:

Then a second layer, face down.  I've also tested, leaving face-to-face-stuck PVC tape in water, and then putting it wet into the freezer.  It doesn't come apart, or when the joins are tight, allow any water through - which is what you're hoping when you bodge repair your dodgy home and gardening electrical wiring.  (Only joking, don't do it.)

Step 6:

The sleeves are made from single strips of face to face tape, with a third piece around that to make a tube.  Small slivers are used to attach the tubes to the upper arm, and a little more acrylic varnish is dobbed on at that point to make it all secure.

Step 7:

Look how simple the sou'wester hat is.  A piece of face to face tape, a few mm along one edge folded back, then folded in half.  Another piece of tape is stuck down the back (where my fingers are holding it at this stage) to hold the two back edges together.

Step 8:

Here's the collar.  A single piece of tape, folded in half along its length so that it sticks to itself.  Another piece cut to half its usual width is used to secure it.  Be careful not to trap her hair, fairies don't like that - which is why she is grimacing a bit in this close up.   (And notice those gold thread eyebrows.)  What a beauty she is!

Step 9:

The arms have been glued on with the all weather sealant.  It's very strong and completely waterproof and will not crack.  And here's the first layer of the outfit.  I'm looking at historic fishermen's costumes, which of course being very simple, resemble the clerical garb in which angels are often portrayed (Christmas fairies, as the pedantic will always enjoy telling you, are technically angels...  Just ignore them, they'll be going back home soon.)  It's the "sheet" made previously, folded in half, with a small slit running long the fold.  I gradually lengthen the slit until it JUST allows me to pull it down over her head.

Step 10:

The garment was too wide, giving her macho shoulders.  I trimmed some off at both sides, but she still looked like she had shoulder pads at this stage.  The 80's are over Darlin'.   In later images you'll see that I've cut slits, folded the peaked shoulders down and taped over. Here's a view of the finished sou'wester.

Step 11:

Notice the remodelled shoulders.  The collar is a bit covered, that gets corrected by cutting a small arc - I'm using the tiny pair of scissors on my small Swiss knife.  The hat is about to be stuck on with a blob of all weather sealant.  She's going for that particulary cute look that girls and young women get when a few whisps of hair are escaping from under their head gear.

Step 12:

Here's the start of the outer cape-like part.  Two rectangles of the "sheet" material, which will fold over the shoulders.

Step 13:

Stuck like this at the back, with all weather sealant then folded down over the front, stuck again.  The sealant has enough viscosity to hold the flaps in place, but to be certain I add weights and leave overnight.

Step 14:

And that's the outfit part done.  I could have added more detail, like a collar, toggle ties, and a chin strap, but life's too short.

Step 15:

A Christmas Fairy needs wings (OK, they're angel style wings.  Just stop it.)  These are cut from the flat side of a two litre milk carton.

Step 16:

And I've decided that her wings should also be yellow PVC.  Tape is applied to both sides, this time in a radiating pattern, for its visual effect.  It's applied to both sides, allowed to stick to itself for about 5mm all the way around the outside of the plastic stiffener, and trimmed off at that point.

Step 17:

I considered adding glitter or something to the wings,but decided that when it comes to yellow PVC fairy wings, the guiding principle should be "less is more".  They're stuck on with a generous blob of all weather sealant, and she's finished.  Many people these days have been mislead by the demons of commererce as to when one should put up Christmas decorations - it's Christmas Eve.  Try it, your Christmas Morning will be so much more special.  Instructibles readers should be too busy making stuff until then anyway.  And they stay up for the twelve day festival.  If I can, during that time, I'll try to get a good photo of her on her tree, peering in at us through a rain splattered window, and add it to this Instructible.  Wishing you a very merry and pleasantly dry Christmas in all weathers.

Step 18:

Christmas Eve 2012.  One of the wettest Christmasses on record, epic floods all over England.  Fairy is prepared for it however.  Next job, to do something about those rubbish lights that I've bought.  One project leads to another... For next year perhaps.  Merry Christmas.