Introduction: a Magical Lighted Fairy Garden!
I'll start by saying I'm not a fairy kind of a girl. I grew up a tomboy, digging for oil (to get rich) in Mom's backyard, jumping out of trees in an attempt to fly, building cat furniture (carpenter's daughter) and trying my hardest to build an amusement park so I could charge my friends admission. The last thing I wanted to do was play with dolls and figurines, aside from giving my friends' Barbies mohawks.
I think most people are fond of miniature scenery, including myself, and the same goes for pretty lights, especially outdoors. My personal love of things tiny started with Disneyland's Storybook Land Canal Boats, and continued with model railroads. But tiny isn't quite enough for me. Ambiance is important to make things truly magical, and to create serious ambiance you need darkness and you need mood lighting.
Even though I'm not a fairy kind of a girl, I think I'm quickly becoming one after making my own fairy garden. I'm not sure what prompted me to try it, but after just one I'm completely hooked, and have quickly collected materials to make more, and even started a website about it.
I'm also insanely fond of ambient photography, and making tiny and magical scenes lends itself to that quite well! So here I am to share my process and the photos that resulted from it. I hope you'll enjoy this Instructable. Please consider voting for it in the Lights contest and also in the Gardening contest.
Step 1: Materials: Your Imagination
For any tiny garden that employs living plants, you will need some sort of container that is wide enough for the scenery you want to create, and enough potting soil to keep your plants upright and give their little roots room to grow.
You will need plants with leaves small enough to appear miniature. I used groundcovers:
Blue Star Creeper (tiny blue flowers)
"Elfin" Mother of Thyme
And a succulent groundcover that I don't know the name of, but you can see it in the photos.
I also found some neglected regular-sized succulents in my yard that I used to add height.
Natural materials are preferable (to me) over store-bought, but I also bought some pre-made materials to save time. Natural, store bought, and craft materials
Wooden circles (natural and die cut)
A pre-made fence
Wire cutter pliers
However many battery operated LED light strings you want to use (I found marquee light covers in a craft store bargain bin, but they're not necessary)
Miniature plates, cutlery, and soda pop
A fairy figurine
A battery-operated flickering tea light
Hot glue (use any sturdy glue you wish)
A small circle of fabric (miniature tablecloth)
Bottle caps (stool seats)
Step 2: Build a Structure.
I wasn't sure how this might turn out, but I wanted shelter for my fairy, and I wanted it to have height. I wanted it to be at least three times the height of the fairy, and the roof needed to have open spaces because I knew I'd later be adding hanging lights.
I chose sticks of appropriate length to wire together in a box shape (and also made certain to poke my fingers with wire a few times and draw blood because I'm clumsy like that), the front being slightly higher and wider than the back, the bottom being flush to sit on a flat surface.
I then wired "branchier" (with pieces sticking out) sticks to the top to create the roof.
When my structure was finished I nestled it into my container/tray (which should have been deeper, but it's what I had) so that the potting soil covered the bottom square of sticks.
I then added some miniature garland to give it a festive feel, and decided upon a path for my natural-wood circles.
Step 3: Make Something for Your Fairy to Do!
I wanted it to appear as if my fairy was waiting for a friend, so I decided to make a little table and stools where they could dine together festively.
I used two short lengths of stick for the stool supports and a thicker and slightly longer stick for the table leg. I hot glued bottle caps (Izze soda has cute caps) to the shorter sticks for seats. I hot glued a wooden die cut circle to the longer stick for a tabletop.
I made a base for the table and stools with smaller die cut circles that I hot glued together, then hot glued the table and stools to the base.
A small circle of cute fabric became my tablecloth, and I glued store-bought miniature dishes, cutlery and soda pop to the top. To keep hot glue from oozing through your cloth, only apply the hot glue to the outside edge of your tabletop. That will also allow you to shape the edges of your cloth for a natural looking drape.
I planted the table and stools at the end of the wooden circle path, burying the base in the soil.
Step 4: Build a Campfire!
It's such a lovely effect to have a campfire in your scenery! And so easy to make!
I constructed mine on a plate, but it would have been better to construct it on a silicone mat for easy removal. I will do that with the next campfire.
Hot glue a circle of stones around the base of your tea light, leaving the bottom the way it is to have access to the on/off switch and battery cover.
Hot glue enough small sticks around the top of the light to cover the plastic, as you don't want that visible, but make sure the flame sticks out enough to simulate a small fire.
Turn it on and giggle at how cute it is and how clever you are, and place it wherever you like in your garden.
Apparently I added sideways photos. Hmm. I'll try to fix that later.
Step 5: Place Your Plants.
I placed my plants before I placed my lights, but it could have been done in reverse.
I wanted to create separation of areas, so I started by building a slightly raised barrier of Irish Moss to distinguish the grotto area from the dining area. I placed my fence along the front and left side of the garden. I then used my other groundcovers to create shrubbery in various areas around the container border and grotto.
I found it needed height, so I gathered a few neglected succulents from pots I already had and used them as trees. They're easy to trim out or replace if they grow too large, and they root quickly.
Step 6: Light It Up!
I used two 10-light strings of battery-operated white LEDs, as I knew I didn't want to plug anything in or water anything electrical.
I covered my LEDs with "marquee light covers" that I found in a craft store bargain bin. Totally not necessary, but I liked the way they added color and form to my lights. You can use colored lights, white lights, whatever you wish. Just make sure not to use the newly popular bare-wired lights in places where you'll be watering, or your lights may not last very long. Remember that you can easily replace lights if you need to, so even if your plastic covered wires eventually become water damaged, it won't cost much to switch them out.
I hung blue covered lights around the roof of my grotto and placed pink covered lights around my table and along the fence, hiding most of the wires behind plantings. I used a tabletop as a planter, so I had easy places to hide my battery packs: duct taped the bottom of the table. You can do the same or hide yours behind your planter somehow using either duct tape or glue. If you use glue, be sure to leave your battery cover free to replace batteries when needed.
Step 7: Place Your Fairy and Take Some Photos!
If it's daylight when you take your first photos you'll have to wait impatiently for approximately 73 and a half hours for nightfall. Take a nap and come back later.
Before you hit the sofa, water your garden a little bit, avoiding light strings as best you can. Water it occasionally according to the instructions on your groundcovers and also place it where your groundcovers recommend for light and shade. Bring it indoors during inclement weather.
Step 8: Is It Dark Yet?
Did you have a nice nap? Is it dark outside now? Wonderful! You battled the daylight and won!
Turn on all of your pretty lights, get your camera and really get down in there at various angles to get a ridiculous amount of ambient photos to share with your Facebook friends! Watch the nice comments roll in and feel happy that you just made so many people smile!
I hope you enjoyed this Instructable... it was fun to make! Again, please consider voting for it in the Lights and Gardening contests! Enjoy your garden, and I hope this will inspire you to make many and share them with all of your favorite people ?