Magic

Magic Wands with Yarn

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So simple and so fun for the class today. I collected fallen branches about a foot in length. I brought sandpaper, yarn, and a few beads to class. Students chose the branch that "spoke" to them. They could use sandpaper to smooth rough patches. A few spent ages making their sticks all smooth.

I showed them how to tie a knot around the branch- the short end dives through the loop, wrapping around the long end. I showed them how to hide the short tail by wrapping around it. We discussed layering colors and adding beads. I said they could fingerknit then wrap the knitted chain. They wanted to engage quickly so no one tried that. Another day :)

Their wands went home with them today, all unique and beautiful! Just like the children :)

Fairies for Good Causes

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An invitation. Over the years, we have made fairies for donations. We hear stories about generous people who make fairies and treasure keepers for childrens' hospitals and school auctions. I forgot how much fun I have creating to give. Crafts help children in many ways. Crafts carry love. I made these for my son's class basket. It went to an auction benefiting his school (and arts in schools, including handwork, yay).

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Along the way, I found myself enchanted. Giving gives to the giver :)

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Don't they look cute on the basket?

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Fairies given away have a certain special magic :)

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Have you given fairies to a good cause? Where did you give? 

I am sure inspired to keep a supply of sweet little fairies just for donating. They are magical :)

Hope you get to enjoy giving :)

Five Ways to Personalize a Fairy

Fairies love to be gifts. Or special projects. And each time a fairy is crafted, they love to be unique. Fairies have a special magic. Because you create a fairy, you make her (or him) unique.

I give fairies as gifts all of the time. For new babies to hang over the crib, for birthdays, for children in difficult times. I have a few tricks for making a fairy unique. I hope they help you craft a fun fairy for friends, family, or yourself.

1. Favorite Colors

Ask about colors. Ask a parent or child about their favorite colors. Especially in childhood, colors change quickly. Use the colors to inspire your felt and petals.

Children often grow from pink, purple, pink, and more pink, to red, black, and dark purple.

Every age is fun! And using another person's favorite colors is fun.

2. Matching features

Match the family, match the details. 

Fairy Deer by Margaret Bloom at We Bloom Here

I love fairy families! We create big sisters and little brothers. I will use a little gnome for a baby or toddler. Children love when the fairy is part of a family!

Matching hair color and eye-color always delights children.

I gave this fairy yellow hair to match my friend's hair. I threaded a strand of sparkly white in to add texture. Of course, I love colored hair for fairies- pink! green! rainbow! so I don't often matchy-match. Still a fun plan now and again :)

3. Using numbers

Numbers add a layer of significance to any fairy. The birthday fairies (pictures above with the blue candles on her hat) always have the number of candles matching the number of trips around the sun. Numbers can be used in other ways, too.

For this fairy, I sewed four Xs on her hat for the four people in her family (they wrap around so you don't see all of the Xs at once).

I use numbers all of the time with custom fairies. I will put a number of points on a crown, or beads on a hat. The numbers can reflect anything. From trips around the sun. To family. To dreams and goals. Numbers create another link between a fairy and her (or his) new home.

4. Charms and tokens

Bead stores can be my toy stores! A little charm can be the difference between an everyday fairy and a custom fairy.

For these fairies, I found beads with the same letter as the child's first name.

I had to treasure-hunt since the letters were buried in bowls of random beads. I need to find more letter-beads :).

I had a bead with the year for awhile which will help me in the future (I need 2014 beads :)). I also have charms with Made With Love on them. I adore charms with HOPE, or DREAM, or WISH on them. My challenge is that I often forget all my choices until the fairy is in the mail. Oops. This list will help remind me.

I also use charms to share a moment in time, favorites, or memories. This birthday fairy has a snowflake charm even though she has a spring birthday. Can you guess why?


I expect fairies to be loved, played with, and taken on adventures. My friend may not have this fairy forever. If she does, though, I want her to remember that this was the year she discovered a new favorite story and sang the songs with all of her heart. I want the fairy to reflect her life. 

And my children do keep their fairies in a collection. We have everyday fairies and sentimental fairies :)

5. Stories, friends, and accessories

As I write this, I hear the stories that I hold as I create these fairies. Every once in awhile, I include a written note with the custom features of each fairy. Usually I let the fairy speak for itself. Most people notice matching elements, or discover the number of candles. Every once in awhile, though, I write a story to give with a fairy. Such as with the emotional Fairy Road that travelled with a fairy to a family in a very difficult time. Fairies are celebrations. They can also be a source of great comfort and strength. Fairies have been given to children who need extra support (my son carried one in his pocket the first days of school). They have also been angels in challenging times for health or grieving. Fairies have stories too. Writing a quick note can create an immediate connection between a fairy and a child (or adult).

I actually rarely give fairies a name. I often give that opportunity to the child. Naming is a connection as well. And they often choose a name that I would never imagine on my own :)

Fairies love friends! You can make your own, like Margaret Bloom made this darling deer to live in our Forest :)

We also give stuffed friends with fairies. We might give a cat or dog that looks similar to a family pet. Or magical friends. Often, I don't have time to make my own animal friends (I wish!). Luckily, the world makes awesome unicorns, dragons, foxes, and more that can accompany a fairy.


This unicorn is no longer available (unfortunately) the same company makes a similar Only Hearts Club Unicorn. Or you can click here to find many, many unicorns. We also adore dragons.

My almost-last idea (I have so many ideas!) is to give a bottle of Pixie Dust/Fairy Dust with your fairy.

Of course, again, I cannot find this exact bottle to share, but these look very similar- Pixie Dust Bottles with Fairy Wand. I need these wands to prop in the fairy's hand!

I just thought of necklaces or bracelets, too, that can travel with a fairy.

Every fairy has their own unique magic. Making your own means that no one else in the world can create the exact same fairy. That is magic right there :)

Fairies make lovely gifts. Even bees know the magic of fairies :)

Enjoy creating and giving the magic away!

Bonus sixth way! Of course, a very simple way to customize fairies is to choose a special fairy. A mermaid or zombie or warlock may be just what your friend loves these days. Our book has many, many choices!

All of the fairies in this post use tutorials found in our book. We want to inspire creating of all kinds (these tips are great for gnomes too). I am happy to answer any questions!

Now, I'm off to pack up the Birthday Fairy for a special friend. Share the magic :)

*please note: This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase any items through links on this post, a small amount returns to the Forest. Your price remains the same. We both win. And thank you!

Playing with Craft

Children love inspiration. Don't we all?

Making toys inspires children. They delight in the power of their hands and ideas. I recently sewed these lovely baby leprechauns with six year old students. Children sewed all their own sequins, around the fairy baby, and added stuffing. They were delighted with the little toys they made.What a treat, to see that magic through their eyes. Look what we can create!

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Sorry this one is a little blurry- classrooms have tricky lighting for my camera :)

Then the children reminded me the real fun of sewing and crafting. Crafting is inspiration. And the craft is just the beginning. Crafts inspire play. And play inspires storytelling. And learning.

Now that they had little friends, they needed houses. What could build a house?

Blocks of course!

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And some homes need a diving board into a lovely cool pool.

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With a luxury view from the bedroom.

Legos also make awesome homes. With an open door :)

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I encourage students to leave blank faces so they can imagine any expression, but a few insist on adding features. I let go when they have strong feelings towards needing eyes or mouths. After all, if I wanted it to look 'my way', I would make my own :)

I loved her idea to put a ring over the ruffled hat for an even fancier crown.

And finally, dollhouses are wonderful homes. Especially when they come with a pet tiger :)

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Enjoy what you create!

Happy day :)

Many of our crafts are "Keepsake Crafts", meaning they look nice for years and become a treasured memory alongside the sweet sewing. Every now and again, I sew "Process Crafts" with children. These are the crafts to shove in pockets and forget outside after playing in the trees. They are the crafts that are meant for playing. They are a chance to let go. Don't worry overmuch about colors or forever. Let them become a memory. Become part of a story. Have fun crafting and playing :)

P.S.- if you would like detailed directions for making little fairy/gnome friends, check out our Forest Fairy Craft Book. Please note- is an affiliate link. Thank you from the forest should you decide to purchase one! Directions for the little hats are online here. Enjoy!

Leprechaun Baby

Hello wee leprechaun!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Today I get to sew with little friends in first grade. I will be taking photos to share of course. I had to make a sample for them. And it's so fun to make these little leprechauns. I used the Blossom Baby pattern on Page 99 of our Forest Fairy Crafts book. I used green felt and green and gold sequins.

I was a little creative with the hat. I didn't have enough acorn caps for my class project. And I want to finish them and send them home today. That means I needed to glue hats the day before. I made the hats ahead of time. And I had fun with the design.

I cut a rectangle with curvy lines (I just measured around the 5/8" bead, very scientific). It came out to 2" if you are curious. I made a few taller and a few shorter. I like every fairy to be unique :)

The next step would be tricky for children, but I sewed all these hats so I was okay with a few tricks :). I ran a stitch near the top of the hat. Note: for children, I always double the thread and knot so the needle won't pull off. These were for me. I've had a lot of practice :)

I cinched the thread tight and tied a knot so it wouldn't come loose. I am pondering how to best teach this to children... more on that soon. Anyway, I folded the hat in half and sewed a few stiches along the back.

Easy cuteness!

Ready to glue :)

I could have added sequins or a clover of course, but I have one day to finish these. I wanted the children to sew sequins on the body, sew around the outside, stuff, and close up. Will be fun! 

Wishing you lots of magic today!

Tip: Last summer I realized that curvy lines were a challenge for cutting, yet looked wonderful. I took the leap and treated myself to a rotary cutter. I love the curves for blossoms and mermaid waves. It took me ages to choose, so here's the link in case you are interested: OLFA Rotary Cutterwith the Olfa Scallop Blade. And I use a small cutting mat (not photographed). It's been a great investment!  

*Please note: this post does contain affiliate links. Should you purchase anything, your price doesn't change, but a small percentage commission returns to the Forest. Thanks for helping us buy more felt :)

For sharing:

 

Enjoy! 

Sweetheart Fairy Babies

Fun in the forest sounds like, "Guess what I made?"

Aw, welcome little sweetheart fairies!

Asia shared these darlings with me last week. We love being inspired by the season. 

Asia used ideas from our Forest Fairy Crafts book and switched them around to match the holiday. We've been getting more requests for holiday-theme projects. We aren't able share the exact directions, but we can point you towards inspiration.

The wee babes started as Blossom Fairy Babies (page 100). Instead of a leaf bed, Asia made a heart similar to the heart pockets on page 114. She then took the hat from the Love Fairy on page 66 and made the heart-shaped hat small enough for a baby.

Putting it all together is brand-new magic!

Certain things, like the pom-poms on their hats and felt heart decorations, are not in our book. The pom-poms are in most craft stores and can be sewn with a little stitch at the top of the hat. The hearts are cut freehand and secured wtih a stitch.

We keep hearing about mixing and matching ideas from the book. We love that!

Of course, each idea began as a question. "How could we...?" I have a few ideas tumbling in my thoughts right now. "How can I...?" And the results are so much fun!

We wish you lots of love as you create :)

Winter Fair Sweethearts

This week we are going to a Winter Faire which was rescheduled due to snow last month. At the time, missing the holiday season was disappointing.

But winter days are long (even with the strange early spring we have this year). I look forward to a fun day for us and our children.

The fair inspired me to sew these little gnomes to bring along. 

Sweetheart Gnomes by Lenka

Each new season is new inspiration :)

And I had to make a fairy, too.

Sweetheart Fairy by Lenka

Children (and adults) ask sometimes why the fairies or gnomes don't have faces. We like to create them both ways. Many of my fairies have faces. I love the little smiles and impish personalities.

At the same time, I find the wood-bead charming. The idea is that our imaginations create the face. We can 'see' the happy or worried or surprised fairy in our mind. We create the expression and the details. This sounds novel in an age when everything can be made to be more real and toys come with soundtracks so we don't need to make a train whistle or a firetruck siren-song.

I adore simplicity. And I appreciate getting to make these types of toys. Just waiting for a little magic. To come alive :)

You can find us at the Winter Fair at the Yuba River Charter School tomorrow. I can't wait to see all of the toys and crafts and games. I am sure to find more inspiration :) More information is here if you are in the Nevada County area.  

We hope to see you!

Child-Made Fairies for Christmas

One of my favorite things about the holidays is making fairies with children. Every student in my class (20 in all) makes a fairy. The boys (and a few girls) are not inspired by fairies, so they make elves. Or angels. Whatever the fairies are called, they bring joy to the season.

Our book was inspired by projects like these fairies. Because families sometimes wonder how their five, six, or seven year old made such treasures. Every little fairy/elf/angel is unique. Reflecting the unique voice of the child.

How does it work?

The directions, with many photographs, are all in our book. What the child makes and what I make depends on time and the child. Some children show great independence and want a lot of creative freedom. Other children enjoy having my attention for each little step. I do have a plan for creating twenty child-made fairies. I am working on a post for sewing fairies with groups of children. For now, though, I want to share my secrets for working with one child at a time. Because I get to make these with family, too.

What the child does:

  • chooses felt and pipe cleaner colors, yarn, sequins, wings
  • sews the decorating felt band on the hat, adds sequins and decorations galore
  • sews up the back of the hat
  • adds beads and bells to the top of the hat
  • winds thread (pants or tunic)
  • chooses petal skirts
  • tries hat on to see how it all looks together

What the adult does:

  • makes the body
  • draws the face
  • cuts the felt
  • threads the needle and ties knots
  • demonstates (models) the first couple of stitches and how to add sequins
  • lets go of expectations :)
  • folds hat in half when decorating is done, sews an anchor stitch at the bottom
  • models sewing up to the top of the hat (one stitch)
  • knots thread for clothing
  • models first steps for winding thread (pants or over-shoulder, under arm)
  • holds wings until they are attached with winding thread
  • clips tiny amount so petal skirts can scoot up the legs
  • glues hair and hat on fairy/elf/angel

Of course, this all changes depending on the age and personality of the child. And it doesn't have to be done on the same day. Take breaks. See the little bits of felt and thread come together to create a magical keepsake. 

One of our favorite things at the recent craft fair was hearing from families whose students left us five or even ten years ago. "We still have our fairies," they said. On the tree or the table or the mantle. 

We still love our fairies :)

Autumn in the Forest

Hurrah for changing leaves and crisp mornings. We love the bright colors of fall, the blazing oranges and reds. We also love the shadowy colors of fall, the dusky purples and deep burgundies. 

We haven't been able to post that much because we are busy creating these days. We have a few craft fairs booked for December (more on that soon). And the book is selling well! (thank you!) But the fun needs to be shared. 

So happy October!

We have new things in the Forest. The first is that we now offer custom greeting cards with our images. When you go here, you can choose an image and design it however you like. You can order one, or a box of ten or more. I am excited to try them. I will be adding more holiday images as we get closer to the season.

We have also been selling kits locally and in our Etsy shop. The response is an overwhelming, "Thank You!" And as I prep for our own holiday crafting around here, I appreciate the effort the kit will save a lot of families. The kits do not include directions (they are meant as a companion to our book). They have supplies to make at least four different projects. If you are crafty, most of the supplies are probably in your stash, but if you are traveling, or just starting to craft, these kits save a lot of time.

My current challenge is choosing colors! I want to keep our inventory simple (pastels, woodland, seasonal) but they we go to the store and find turquoise and magenta. And what about angels? And winter? 

Oh, the ideas are endless. The last special one for this month is the Spooky Crafty Kit with purples and black. Perfect for zombies and witches. I only have one left in our Etsy Shop.

I am adding petals to the kits, too, because the petal fairies are so much fun!

Speaking of petal fairies, I have too much fun making my own fairies :)

They're even harder to offer for sale. I fall in love with each and every one of them. Especially her...

She has this little smirk that makes me happy. Every single time I see her :)

I don't really want to send her off to a new home, but she is available here.

I wanted to make a pink and black fairy. And she kept adding details. She wanted sparkles. Gold thread in her hair. A wide-brim hat. And she has this sweet and sly look about her that reminds me why I craft. We can make magic :)

Speaking of magic, my girl has inspired me to create a little for her and her friends. This year, the big new thing at school is animal tails. And this is before the Fox song :).  They wear tails to school almost every day. They asked me for cat tails. And Ian asked for an orange cat tail. Their friends want more, so I made a few extras.

And the more realistic, faux fur cat-tail...

I am getting the cat-tail posted (hopefully soon). The orange tail in is our shop :)

And we have exciting plans for the holidays. It's a secret for now, but I am working with one of my favorite magical artists... Lucky me :) 

Time to enjoy this fantastic autumn! I am sending great fun and spooky-sparkles your way :)

3 Reasons to Sew Together

I recently sewed a fairy with my niece. And I learned three reasons why it is worth the time and effort to engage children in crafting gifts (even for themselves!)

1. They make their own choices.

Their ideas of color and design may be very different from what we would choose for them. Sewing together gives them a chance to explore their own ideas. My niece got to build visualization skills as she tested one swatch of color with another. And her selections were not what I expected at all. And they were lovely!

2. They see the value of a handcrafted gift.

By engaging in the craft, they see all the effort and decisions that go into handcrafting a gift. From exploring my many supplies to undoing mistakes, she got to see the behind-the-scenes magic that makes a handcrafted gift so special. Unwrapping a gift is easy compared to creating a gift from bits of wire and felt. Yet, the process is so rewarding!

3. They treasure their creation.

Between the felt and sequins, magic happens. I shared with my niece that no matter how many fairies I create, they all end up different. Even if I try, I cannot make two that look exactly the same. She saw this for herself as she put her fairy together. She couldn't believe that she could create magic, too. "I know just where she belongs in my room," she said, "On my special nightstand." Creating something beautiful is empowering. And the 'voice' that a child gives her or his creation makes it unique in all the world.

The gift goes both ways. She enjoyed her fairy. I enjoyed spending time with her. Which is the best gift of all. Time together :)

Enjoy your crafting!

P.S. A few of our tips for successful sewing with children are here. We will share many more in our book coming out in late spring, 2013. Thank you for visiting the Forest!

Alexandria's Fairy

I recently enjoyed a treat. My niece visited and we sewed a fairy together. The needle, thread, and sequins fascinated her. "Look, Mom," she said, "I don't need glue!"

After showing my niece the basics of the running stitch and adding sequins (which will soon be shared in our book), she took off and made it mostly by herself.

The beauty of sewing together was that I planned to make a fairy for her a few months ago. I would use pink, black, and maybe red because those are colors she wears often. Yet, yet she chose all blues and greens! She chose colors I would never have selected for her. And they inspired me!

She especially liked the star on the fairy's hat.

I liked the long stitches to attach sequins. They gave nice texture and decoration.

We both decided that this fairy would wear short skirts instead of a long, full petal skirts. Better for dancing (my niece is a dancer). 

A parting image of her fairy looking thoughtful.

I am so grateful that we got to make her together. Wonderful sewing, Alex! She also reminded why I sew with children (again) which I posted about here. Magic is best shared :)