Fairy Doors are so cute! How did I start doing them? My boyfriend's mom is huge Tolkien fan and loves crafty handmade things. I got the idea to make her a Hobbit door for Christmas from looking around the Internet and seeing a few clay doors. I figured I could do that. After making the one door and putting my own flair and techniques into, I got the fever and started making some other ones. Through trial, error, and experimentation I became even more fond of making this cute little things.
The one that I made for the tutorial is larger than the ones I have previously made, which I'll admit was not on purpose. This one ended up being 4.25 inches high, all the other were under 3 inches. But it turned out to be a happy accident so that I could get good shots of the detail.
- Polymer clay
- Bake & Bond
- Acrylic Paint - Or any other water based paints
- Clay tools
- Exacto Knife
- Baking surface - I use glass from cheap picture frames, easy to clean
- Synthetic paint brushes
- Pasta rolling machine
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Step 1: Backing With Hanging Hole
So to start, let's make a plate with a hole to be able to hang the door on the wall. I try to stick with something that will easily blend in, just in case I end up with a gap in the wood.
Roll out a sheet of your selected color on a medium to wide thickness on a pasta roller. Lay it out flat on your baking surface. Towards the top middle, cut out a small circle, small enough that a nail head won't go through and below it about half an inch to an inch, cut out a larger circle that a nail head can pass through. Connect the two with a channel that's the width of the smaller circle.
On another sheet, in about the same spot, cut out two larger circles, slightly longer and lay on top, lining up the bottom. Smooth it out and remove any air bubble by poking a hole and smoothing it out. No need to worry about the aesthetics of this surface because you will be covering it up later. Determine the middle, for me, the hanging hole is the middle and trim the edges to the desired shape.
Bake it at the required temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes and let it completely cool. DO NOT remove it from the baking surface. It comes in handy having the door stuck to the surface while you are working on it. We are baking this slightly so that the "wood" doesn't droop on the base.
Once it's cooled, apply a thin layer of Bake & Bond to the back piece. This is what will make the raw clay stick to the partially baked clay.
Step 2: Add the Wood Planks
For this step, I used a pre-made wood cane. A solid color can be used as well. The texturing and coloring will still give it the feel of wood. I just find it easier to make my grooves using the lines in the cane. Not to mention, I love how the contrasts of colors bleeds through.
Slice thin strips of "wood" and layout for texturing and coloring. Using a needle tool, toothpick, or the tip of your exacto knife, carve a few lines. Not straight. I like to pick lines to follow in the cane. Just don't go all the way through. How many and how deep and wide depends on how weathered of a look you are going for. I also like to lightly brush over it with a wire brush. The lighter you do it, the more like sanded wood. The deeper and it's more weathered. If you don't have a wire brush, a stiff bristle paint brush works. So does going over and over like a madman with a toothpick or needle tool.
Next, to add some color. Scrape some soft pastels into a powder and brush it on. I find synthetic paint brushes work best. It doesn't alter the texture too much and you have a much less chance of stray bristles falling off. I started with a lighter brown lightly all over. Then added a darker brown to the edges and inside the deeper lines. A little bit of black to the ends and very edge of the sides for some shading. Then go back over with a dark red. I like to alternate between coloring and going back over again with textures. Especially the wire brush. It reveals some of the natural clay color underneath. Just go with what you feel looks best.
Once you've got to a place you like, lay them out on the base. Very lightly press each one down. If you press too hard, you'll ruin all your work. With the wire brush go over all of them again lightly to help press it down more.
With either the dark brown or a little bit of black pastel, brush some color between each panel to help distinguish between each panel.
Step 3: It Needs a Doorknob...and Maybe Some Hinges
Most doors have doorknobs. So lets make that and some hinges.
I started with the hinges with a very dark clay. I rolled out a sheet at a medium thickness and then cut out a pattern I created. For the texture, I wanted a hammered look. To achieve this I lightly tapped the shape with different size ball tools. For the color, I used metallic paint. First I did a dry brush of gunmetal gray and a little bit of sterling silver. Especially in the grooves.
For the doorknob, I first created a plate and gave it the same texture and color. With a piece of toothpick, I put a small dab of bake and bond on the end and then a small ball of clay on the end in the right size. Texture and paint the same way.
I did another light dry brush over everything with antique copper for a little pop.
Carefully place each piece in the appropriate spot. A few light taps with the ball tool puts it in place and maintains the texture. For the doorknob itself, I trimmed the toothpick down and pushed it in place. This did alter the texture, but I just went over it again the ball tool. Just be careful not to hit the wood. It's still soft.
Now of course you could stop here, bake it, and call it done. But that's just not me.
Step 4: How About a Doorway?
I chose to do a brick doorway. So lets make some bricks.
Start by making equal sized pieces. Easiest done by rolling out a rope and cutting equal pieces. Then shape them into little bricks. Tap on it all directions with a wire brush to give it a more square shape. Add some color using pastels and alternate with the wire brush. Adding the color will smooth out some of the roughness. Don't worry if the color looks flat and the texture too rough when you are done. After it sits for a bit, some of the color seeps in and it evens out.
You don't have to, but you can if you like, add to the backing before laying on the bricks. When you lay the bricks, try to use as little pressure as possible and space them out evenly, but leave enough room to add the "mortar" between each. Give each a few taps to set in place.
With some white, roll out a rope thin enough to go between each. Lay it out between each brick and around the door. With the smallest ball tool, push the rope between the bricks, making a sloppy groove. With some light brown or light gray add some pastel color. Trim the edges of the bricks and then shade with some black.
For the wall, take a thicker white rope around the edges and press it in. With the wire brush, aggressively tap on the rope, pushing it into the side and to a slant on the edges. Then shade with browns and blacks, maybe even greens with some pastels. Then dry brush some white on top. The pastel will only peek through here and there and the holes from the brush will smooth out some to be a nice looking wall.
Step 5: How About Some Grass?
It's a fairy door, right? So there should be something green, right? Let's add some grass. Take different shades of green rope and twist them up. You are going to twist, roll, twist, roll, squish to your heart's content. Just don't do it too much or else all of the colors will blend a lot. You still want some definitely. You can even add more contrast. Cut and press a rope to the bottom. Like with the wall, tap it into the bottom and angle out the edges with the wire brush.
Now, for the grass, you will need a needle tool, a sewing needle, or a toothpick. Now, I really hope I can explain this well enough. You are going to swirl the tip in the surface. This will dig some of the clay up and move it to the top. You will get little beads falling off, and that's fine. They can be picked up and pressed back in with the tip of the needle. As you will see, it will nicely mix up the colors and even reveal some hidden colors beneath. Keep the swirls tiny and tight. Give a few spots a light dusting of some browns and greens.
I also rolled out some green into a very tiny rope and draped on some climbing vines.
Step 6: More Plants!
With two different greens, I made a gradient cane, put a light green vein in the middle, turned it into a square cane with the light green as a tip and sliced them thinly. Then spread out with ball tools from largest to smallest starting from the bottom tip and spreading out like leaf veins. Trim the edges and spread out more to get the desired shape. Shade with pastels. Add a center vein with a very thin rope and blend the sides into the veins.
Carefully shape and add each leaf and overlapping each other. Trim the edges and add some shading under and between each leaf.
Step 7: And Some Flowers!
Here I sliced a flower petal cane I had and textured and painted it. Then attached each petal
Step 8: Not Quite Done...It Needs a Sign
I felt like the door needed a sign. So with another wood cane, I slide off a piece and textured to be more battered and dry brushed some white to give it a "white wash" look, then painted on the letters. With a twisted thin rope and a small dark gray ball with some gunmetal gray metallic paint, attached them and then it was ready.
Step 9: Bake, Varnish, and Let Your Imagination Fly!
Bake for at least 30 minutes. I baked mine for about 45 minutes. Let it cool in the oven and then a light coat of varnish later...TADA!
As you can see from some of my other, and much smaller doors, the possibilities are fairly endless!
Well, I hope you enjoyed and were inspired to give it a try yourself! If you liked it, please vote for me in the Clay Contest!
Until next time!