Magical Fairy Garden on a Fairy Budget

I have been viewing "Fairy Gardens" and fell madly in love with the idea of a tiny fantasy garden. I made two of these for Mothers Day recently, without spending hardly anything! As you know I also love to "UP"cycle... so looking around my home, I found an OLD and I mean OLD rusty charcoal grill on the "scrap" pile. It was screaming to me for a rescue! I thought what a perfect abstract container! And, that my friends was the beginning vision of my "tiny" madness....

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Step 1: In the Beginning....

Here was the sad grill, rusty, but rather in tack...After my last project I knew my new hubby was going to think I was crazy, but what the hey.... I took this grill and disassembled it, saving ALL the screws in a zipper bag. Next came the "fun" part of cleaning up the rust.

Step 2: Sanding

Well one of the reasons I married my new hubby was to be able to play in his garage with the power tools! So, while he was at work, I hooked up the air wire brush sander. While I was smart enough to grab safety glasses, I wasn't smart enough to grab a breathing mask. Being in close proximity of the sanding and rust "dust" I did have a cough for a couple of days...and well I also wasn't careful to start slowly and the sander "bucked" me in the arm, taking off a pretty good chunk of hide. I would suggest starting SLOW and getting to know the tool you are using!!! I propped the pieces up on saw horses and went to town sanding everything!

Step 3: Primer Is Your Friend!

Again I went "shopping" in hubbies paint cabinet and found the perfect primer for the job! (note: I did NOT receive anything from any of the products I used in this project) I spray painted everything inside and out. I don't need to school you up on techniques of spray painting outdoors, but remember don't stand into the wind!

Step 4: Painting

I found a can of Chrome paint and also Gloss black (no pic of that one :( ) I painted all the bottom chrome and painted the grill base gloss black. I painted inside and out. I even painted the hardware. After drying, I reassembled the grill (minus the cover which is back on the scrap pile whining....) Then comes the FUN part!

Step 5: Crazy World of Minitures!

I went shopping for miniatures and boy was I surprised at how expensive! If you're not "crafty" you can purchase everything you need at your local craft store...just take a fat wallet. I knew I could MAKE all the toadstools, the tea sets, a frog and well anything clay like. I searched and found a recipe for a modeling clay that used baking soda, corn starch and water. Its very simple:

2 Cups of Baking Soda

1 1/4 cups of Water

1 Cup of Corn Starch

Mix corn starch and soda, then add water in a large heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Thicken to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Let this cool just enough to handle, then form into your desired shapes. Unused portions will keep a couple of days in a sealed zipper bag or tightly covered. You can let your clay masterpieces air dry overnight or you can put on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven for 30 min or maybe longer if your pieces are large or thick. Personally I let mine air dry, but was unhappy with that result. Cracks formed, so I made another batch and baked them. I got out my acrylic craft paint and painted everything I had made (toadstools, tea set, birds, frogs and the doors and windows on my fairy house) I used a glass to shape the windows and doors giving them a curve to fit the fairy "house". After painting I covered everything in Modge Podge to "seal" it and sprinkled some diamond dust glitter on everything. (I had all this in my craft stash)

I SCOURED the yard for sticks and vines (trust me wasn't that hard in our yard)...with my trusty best friend Mr. Glue Gun I went to town...I made chairs, a bridge, a swing set, a table and close line! For my fairy "house" I went to the fireplace LOG pile...found a suitable small log and peeled some "curvy" bark from others. I attached the curvy bark on the top of the log into a "roof" shape. Hubby wouldn't let me use the air nailer, but he did accomplish this for me. What a SWELL guy! I glued the windows and doors to the stump. I used a seashell for a porch "awning" and glued a clear marble sprinkled with silver glitter as a porch light! (you can now see the miniature insanity can't you!)

I would like to give a HUGE endorsement to "Jim" at Factory Direct Craft (FDC) for the fairies I did purchase. They have a HUGE selection of the prettiest fairies reasonably priced. I ordered FOUR for $19.00 that included S&H. (see pic of fairies with their adorable gossamer wings!) The other product I purchased at my local craft store was a bag of crushed mirrored glass in a aqua blue. It was $4.99 but I used a 40% off coupon (available online at Hobby or from your cell phone)...this was the perfect medium to create the "water" for the creek in my garden. I made a "bird bath" using a shell glued to a stick and filled it with this medium also.

Step 6: Plants in Your Garden and Assembly

Next was gathering the plants for my garden. Keep in mind these need to be SMALL and also of the same "sun" variety....most of mine were sun or partial sun...I used several small succulents, rose moss, and other grassy mosses. I used a couple of small flowering sets and local garden store was totally on board with a huge selection of plants especially for fairy gardens. They ranged in price of $2.50 to $3.98 each...and honestly I spent under $20 on the plants.

To assemble your garden is totally a personal choice...I made sure my container was lined with black plastic to avoid leaching of the paint/metal and filled with a good potting soil. Then I just started by setting the large fairy house, then the plants and accessories. I will note that thinking "small" didn't happen in my zeal to do this project and had several clay pieces, plants and accessories left over (so I made another one in an old roaster pan).

Step 7: Completed!

Here is the pic of my garden completed at my mother's home. All the grandbabies are loving looking at it, with so many things incorporated. I'm glad I used the grill, as it is mobile and can be taken outside or moved in the house. I have an old Radio Flyer wagon stored in the miniature craziness isn't done yet! Since I made everything except for the fairies, water medium and dried moss for decorations, this was a wonderful inexpensive project that children would love to help with! Wish I had better pictures up close to show the tiny details and sweetness of it all!

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    8 Discussions


    Very cute! I love that you upcycled that old grill and made it into a thing of beauty and whimsy!

    Have you looked at using cold porcelain clay for your miniatures? It is very inexpensive to make, and I find that it takes small detail much better than other types of homemade clay. It has a transparent quality (probably why they call it "porcelain"), and it also paints up beautifully, so it would make beautiful fairies (as well as other objects). There are recipes all over the web (look for videos as there is one slightly persnickety step), and some of the things people do with the stuff are absolutely amazing. I think you would find it fun to work with.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    very cool there are lots of small doll molds that you can use to make your own fairies if you would like to save on buying them and it makes it more yours also sculpty clay can stand up to weather with out sealing

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction


    Thank you for the sculpt clay idea...going to do another fairy garden soon and will give it a whirl! As for making the fairies...well...intimidating ...LOL...but will look into that idea beforehand, especially if I keep having to make the gardens at friends/family requests!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    amekdala, thank you so much and I will heed your advice on being careful...sometimes I just get anxious to get started! :)