I'm experimenting with lovely two-toned dried rose petals. This one was photographed the day after an ice storm turned all branches into brilliant icicles.
The bodice is made from several layers of birch bark, the outer and inner layers.
The applique is a dried petal adorned with a purple bud.
These are so fragile that I'm looking into special deep shadowboxes to contain them.
See that there? It takes awhile, but I've learned to spot them, the Wee Folk that hide in my back woods.
This is a Dryad, a shape shifting fairy that can take the form of a tree. These are the Watchers of the Forest and they hide in the cover of the woods to search out spots for the troop to inhabit once they come up from the Underground.
Here she is in a better angle.
I made this one specifically from a beautiful old mossy stump I'd seen after hiking in Rangeley last fall and painted the birch bodice with the same kinds of kelly and dark greens.
The upper part of the skirt is adorned with Lobaria pulmonaria, a lichen known as "lung moss" thought to be a medicinal remedy for lung diseases. The underskirt is made from green reindeer moss with tufts of Old Man's Beard for the corsage and pink bud.
Each fairy dress has its own custom bejeweled hanger and is stitched up the back with thread.
All fairies are from the elemental property of air and lightness, represented by plants, herbs, flowers, trees.
Orange (tiger) lilies symbolize confidence, pride, and wealth. And this little Spring Maiden fairy was made from them with red birch bark as her bodice. And birch represents the symbol of new beginnings, regeneration, hope, new dawns and the promise of what is to come.
I made her with beech leaf fairy wings.
Each one of these miniature fairies are made from all found natural materials and are one-of-a-kind. A new troop of them are being made for Brambles, a magical shop in Belfast, which carries my Wee Folk fairy dresses.
Right on time (March 21) a pair of sisters were spotted by the sea. Though some fairies live in the hills or barrows, I found a matriarchal society of The Wee Folk in the woods near the sea in Maine two years ago and have been documenting them ever since. It is said one can see fairies by looking through a stone with a natural hole in it.
This is the time of year that they begin to emerge from their subterranean residence deep below the snow-covered hills. They sense that the light has changed and with the air warming every day, these maiden sisters were out gathering the tiny shoots of crocuses.
These lovelies were made from roses given to me on Valentine's Day and I made sure their value would not be thrown away.
Each is stitched up the back with purple thread. The whimsical hanger is adorned with a teeny jewel that matches the color of each dress. Oh, and that's the Camden hills in the background.
Sunning on a bed of crocuses. It's truly the start of Spring!
Seen in late afternoon just off the coast of Maine, a fairy rath, an ancient fort of the Wee Folk. All winter they've held their dances and revelries underground. But now that it is spring time, they have moved above ground.
Look closer among the hillock of wildflowers. There--
Little People have brought the Fairy Queen's throne above, so that she may sit and watch the sun arc down.
This throne was hand made, adorned with peacock feathers and red birch armrests. A chair fit for a pagan Irish queen.
It's spring cleaning for the Wee Folk, a time for cleansing and purification; a time for growth and renewal.
These three fairy dresses represent the pagan trinity of The Maiden (youthful enchantment), The Mother (the green and fertile Earth) and The Crone (the wise woman).
All fairies are from the elemental property of air and lightness, represented by plants, herbs, flowers, trees. Both The Maiden and The Mother are made with birch bodices (which is believed in Celtic magic to ward off evil) and dried tulips for dresses (which has properties of prosperity and protection). The Maiden is sweeter and lighter in coloring, whereas The Mother is more sophisticated, containing an underskirt of bramble. The Crone is made from dried grasses for a bodice, a dark bramble skirt and a sash made from the natural lichen-covered ring of tree bark.
Here they are through a special lens, floating among the mossy forest floor. All three will soon be sold together. Stay tuned for more announcements.
May 1 is a special day, the start of a new season. It's May Day and the powers of The Wee Folk are growing to reach their peak at the summer solstice.
This is the beginning of the passive, feminine side of Nature.
This dress was made from the gift of a rose from a friend. I dried the petals and they came out beautifully as the skirt, matching natural bands of peach in the birch bark. Orange has the power to draw good things and this Lady of the Greenwood is a symbol to offer a gift today, even if it is anonymous.
If you take a walk in the woods today and hear a cluster of birds in the trees; they might be fae. Listen closely. Happy Beltane.
It's the beautiful time of year when The Spring Maiden comes up from the forts and basks among the budding flowers.
The Spring Maiden serves the Queen in her dress and care. She is adorned in dried tulips with birch bodice, a lichen cummerbund and a tulip rose for decoration.
I also made another one, which is a little more elaborate.
We're working on making custom shadowboxes for these pretty ones. Hope you enjoy this blast of color.
By John Galsworthy
Starry-eyed is April morn,
Rain bells glitter on the thorn.
Birds are tuning down the lane
Patter song of fallen rain.
Spring can grieve, but Spring can be
Very life of minstrelsy!
-excerpt from Moods, Songs and Doggerels. Reprinted by permission of Charles Scribner's Sons in the anthology Through Fairy Halls of My Bookhouse (Olive Beaupre Miller, Chicago The Bookhouse for Children Publishers, 1920)
This spring maiden serves the Queen in her dress and care. She is adorned in dried tulips with birch bodice, a lichen cummerbund and a tulip rose for decoration.
Sweet babe! a golden cradle holds thee,
And soft the snow-white fleece enfolds thee:
In an airy bower I'll watch thy sleeping,
Where branchy trees to the breeze are sweeping.
-1st verse by Edward Walsh
This spring dress made of birch and brambles belongs to The Fairy Nurse who watches over The Changeling, a human child that this clan has stolen and replaced in its cradle with one of their sickly fairy babies. If you "over look a child" which means to be envious of it, the fairies will whisk it away. Here, The Fairy Nurse has the babe in her ever watchful gaze as she hangs onto a pussy willow branch. She is awaiting the arrival of her clan of hunters and gatherers from the wood and waters wild to bring the babe food. The stolen child will be in her good care, and as he grows, will forget his human mother. When he cries, he will reach for The Fairy Nurse instead.
Tonic of the Woods
the inspiration behind the creations
Photos, stories and concept ©Kay Stephens
Look up the story behind a fairy dress by clicking on the name below