Mar 4, 2010

DIY Pixie Hollow from aluminium foil and salt dough

Today is my younger daughter's fourth birthday. If you've been visiting this blog for a while then you'll know that my kids, especially my youngest love fairies. We've done fairy crafts before, like making fairy houses and wings for their polly pocket dolls a while back, but for her birthday I wanted to make her something really special, but on a budget. This is our DIY version of Pixie Hollow, home of the legendary Tinkerbell.
I've let my girls watch the Disney Tinkerbell movie recently, because to my surprise I found it to be the only girly Disney movie with what I considered to be a decent message.

  1. It's good to be yourself and accept who you are.
  2. Making things from stuff with your hands and your imagination is both cool and useful.
rather than the usual Disney princess message, which seems to be:
  1. One day your prince will come.
  2. Life will pretty much suck until that happens.
Anyway, I decided to try and make a version of Pixie Hollow for them to have a fairy doll house inside (Fairy houses outside are of course the real deal, but the weather is sucky right now and it would be more likely to be a fairy mud pit).

I thought that salt dough would be the most indestructable material to try and sculpt a tree trunk fairy house out of, but was sure that I wouldn't be able to make it the size that I wanted unless I built some kind of underlying structure. I thought aluminium foil might work, because it's very easy to sculpt into the shape I want, and it's pretty sturdy when compressed.

Here's the aluminium structure I fashioned...

Once that was done I mixed up two batches of salt dough. You can find the recipe here (it's just salt, flour and hot water). I rolled out sections and squished them onto the foil structure to cover it completely inside and out. Once that was done I used a cocktail stick to make marks on the surface for a bark like texture. I made a couple of mushrooms out of the left over dough, that I was planning on painting, but I ended up making little modelling clay toadstools instead. I left the salt dough monument to dry, hidden away for about a week, but it's been really damp around here (rainy season), so it wasn't fully dry and time was running out. At this point I managed to fit it in the oven to bake on a very low heat for about three hours to make sure it was bone dry before I painted it. If I'd put it in the oven right away, when the dough was still fresh, then the air pockets in the aluminium foil would have expanded and broken the dough coating or blistered it and ruined it, so it was important that I let it air dry as much as possible before I put it in the oven. Even in air drying, the dough contracted and I ended up with a couple of cracks on it that I just filled with Spackle/Polyfiller.

I marked out a curvy shape on some plywood that we'd lifted from the skip round the back of the local charity shop (you know how classy I am). This was going to be the base for it all to sit on.

Once all that was done, I painted a base coat of light brown acrylic craft paint on the trunk. Then I used a rag to wipe on darker brown, to get a more bark like colour/texture. Painted up the base green and dabbed it with a rag to get rid of brush marks and make it a little bit textured. I wasn't sure how to glue the trunk to the board securely. I didn't think wood glue on it's own would do it, so me and the hubbins ended up squeezing a whole load of hot glue on the base of the trunk with a couple of glue guns. Of course by the time we had finished doing that, most of it had solidified, so I put it back in the oven upsidedown for a few minutes, until the glue had remelted, and then whipped it out, turned it over and plonked it on the board for the glue to set. Worked a treat, and luckily putting it back in the oven didn't affect the paint job. I slathered the whole thing in a coat of matt polyurethane varnish, and left it to dry overnight.

All that was left to dothe next day was decorating it. I used some plastic vines and flowers from the Dollar Tree, and a load of random stuff like twigs and pebbles from outside. I also used some fake grass stuff that had been on mini tree place settings that our friends Pat and Victoria gave us after their wedding (Is this the fourth project we've used them in? Thanks guys!). I also made a couple of little toadstools from modelling clay, and a pond surrounded by some sand glued on from our sand box.

The water from the pond was made by putting a little bit of blue acrylic paint in some of the matt varnish and pouring it into an aluminium lined yoghurt pot lid to dry with a sprinkle of glitter. Once dry I pulled it out and cut it to shape to be glued on.

There are a lot of little things that I can keep making to add to this with the kids, like a rope ladder, a staircase, furniture for the inside, and of course it'll be fun for them to collect bits and bobs from the walks we go on to add to it as well. Pinecones, acorns etc.

Here are a load of photos of our version of Pixie Hollow, with the set of tinkerbell characters that we got to go with it (found in Target). One of our friends back home in the UK must have been on the same wavelength, because she got our daughter a couple of littlest pet shop creatures for her birthday, which go perfectly in this fairyscape! (thank you Marie!). It's been a big hit with the girls, and so far it appears to be as structurally sound as I'd hoped. Cute fairy door for it next maybe?

























65 comments:

Kami@Nurturing the tender years said...

As always, awesome!!! I love stopping by your blog for inspiration! :)

bunny said...

This is so gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing this.

Kata said...

It is wonderful!

Allyson/HBMomof2 said...

This is absolutely phenomenal! I have been thinking about this very project, but had NO IDEA how to execute it. All the fairy houses I have seen don't have openings. So weird. I am thinking that I am going to have DD build it with me and that will keep her occupied over Spring Break. Thank you for your always awesome instructions.

Loved what you said about the Disney princesses. Cracked me up. We are big Disney fans living her in SoCal, but I have always told my daughter that you can live happily ever after, as long as it's one day at a time with or without a prince.

Amanda said...

What an amazing job you did, good on you! Great progress shots too.

jojoebi said...

wow, that is amazing, makes me want to et myself a fairy loving little girl!

liesbeth1322 said...

*in awe*
Crafted some balloon & torch lightsabres for my kids a couple of weeks ago. My husband loved them as much as they did!
Thanks for the inspiration!
Groetjes from Belgium,
Liesbeth

Catherine Hansen Peart said...

Wow, that is amazing! If only my daughter was interested in fairies!

Kristine said...

absolutely brilliant

elifada said...

Fantastic!!

Amy said...

OMG! Another awesome, must try creation from you! I quickly showed my daughters the pictures and they are now begging me to make it! :) Can't wait to give it a try. You really are amazing. Thanks!

MaryAnne said...

Gorgeous!!! Thank you for the advice on baking salt dough. I never would have thought of that air pocket problem. We haven't seen this movie yet, but after your review I think we'll give it a go. Emma will be on cloud nine as she spent yesterday writing cards for us to give to Tinkerbell when we go to Disneyland (whenever that happens) instead of her birthday thank you notes.

Rebecca said...

I have admired your creativity and ingenious projects for a few months now but THIS is beyond cool.

Totally comment worthy.

Great job! I am SO stealing this idea! I *LOVE* it!!!!! wow.

I am in awe of you.

Holly said...

This is amazing! I might have to keep this in mind for my niece's birthday in July.

Cheryl said...

Just awesome! Love the little pond.

ahk said...

Amazing! I'd love to play with this myself!

Jaimie said...

Amazing!

Care said...

GORGEOUS!! I would have loved one of these when I was little.... heck, I'd love it NOW! :o)

Amy said...

I would love to hear more about the Tinkerbell movie--is this the newish one that came out last year?

I had specifically asked my mother-in-law NOT to get on that bandwagon because a spinoff "Pixie Hollow" book that my daughter has received as a gift was really irritating to me: the pixies were very mean, haughty, and vain. It reminded me of the Little Mermaid prequel movie that I also banned because it seemed the mermaids did little more than fuss over their appearance, act bratty, and talk about boys. That may be an accurate depiction of preteen behavior (ha!) but it's not what I want for my almost-5 year old.

Your Pixie Hollow is amazing!

Kelly said...

WOW! That is a truly fabulous project! Glad a friend (Marisa of Elegant Snobbery) pointed me to your blog!

Kathryn said...

Fabulous!

M for Short said...

Just gorgeous! Disney ought to be calling any moment now.
Hope the birthday girl and her sister enjoy your labor. (How could they not?!?)
Also, I LOVE your stovetop backdrop. Completely my style.

Kitten Muffin said...

Thanks for the sweet words everyone!

Allyson: I'd love to see your fairy house if you and your daughter make one :) and it totally winds me up too that Disney assumes women can only be happy once they have found their "true love". They also seem to like teaching young girls that unless you're pretty then you're screwed. Boooo!

Amy:I was pleasantly surprised by the Tinkerbell Movie. Tinkerbell's friends in the movie are sweet and caring and helpful. There's only one mean haughty fairy in the plot, and she's the "bad guy" that has to fix all the trouble she's caused at the end. I just loved the fact that Tinkerbell is a "tinker fairy" and tinker fairies make things like tinkers, which is what me and my kids love to do anyway. Her job and her talent wasn't glamourous, but it proved to have great value to her friends and community, which was a message I liked.

niku said...

This is so, so, so awesome.

Me said...

This is amazing! I've been looking for this exact thing. . . you rock my world - I'm doing it!

John Edgar Park said...

This is awesome. As both a maker and and someone working on the Tinker Bell movies I heartily approve!

Kami said...

"She's just a common fairy. She's called Tinkerbelle because she mends pots and kettles." We have been listening to a recorded version of Peter Pan, I love that line.
As always your creations are positively stupendous! I'm sure your girls are thrilled!

Tina♥ said...

I hope you don't mind, but I linked your blog on one of my post's, saying that this blog is the insperation for mine, and why I started mine. I love you blog and all its great ideas! Thanks,
Tina

AmyQ said...

Great project! My daughter would be all over that. I also like the Tinkerbell movie....it is a refreshing change from the usual princess garbage. Thanks for sharing!!

Angel said...

I'm a huge pixie hollow fan and love this project! I want to do something similar but for a larger doll. I wonder if tinfoil would be strong enough armature for a larger stump.

High On Craft said...

This is absolutely amazing! Think of the possibilities… I may never have to buy toys again!! lol

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

What a fantastic fairyland. I am in awe!

Nikoli said...

That is bloody brilliant! I have a 2 year old son, and am looking forward to many many 'craft sessions' with him... Bookmarking this as a "Star Wars" craft - would make a most excellent Degobah house of Yoda don't you think!? (Nothing against fairies mind you... we have them all over the flower garden.) Loving your blog!

Meghan Conrad said...

Wow--that's incredibly impressive! My daughter also loves fairies, so this might have to be a project at some point.

Also, thanks for the notes on the Tinkerbell movie. I won't let my daughter watch Disney movies at home (I can't, unfortunately, keep her from them at daycare or grandma's) because I find them so offensive--I'd been avoiding Tinkerbell, assuming that it was more of the same. I might pick it up for Easter, now, as it sounds like it has a nice message for a change!

Swati said...

Beautiful! Your imagination soars (and scores) as always :)

Anonymous said...

absolutely amazing! And I love how you use up stuff that would otherwise just be lying around being useless.

Anonymous said...

wow, that looks amazing! do you think it would be ok to have outside?

Katy David said...

Really amazing - I love it! And I will give Tinkerbell a try - I am not a fan of Disney princess movies for the reason you gave, but this one sounds like it might work for my little one...

Kitten Muffin said...

I wouldn't risk putting a salt dough structure like this outside where we are, because it's quite rainy at the moment and it wouldn't take long to go mouldy or disintegrate, even though I have a coat of varnish on it. Maybe if you live somewhere really really dry then it would be ok, but if you want a fairy house outside then it would be much easier to use stuff that's outside anyway, like letting the kids build it themselves from twigs and rocks etc at the bottom of a living tree. I guess you could try nibbling a doorway shape out of an upturned teracotta plant pot with a dremmel, if you don't have a tree or other suitable place to build one in your garden/yard. Fairy houses can be made from anything. Our fairies lived in plastic bottles with holes cut in them for a while. Those would be fine outside too.

janimal said...

That is so seriously awesome.

Angel said...

Only because its been said so much in the opposite, I also wanted to add I LOVE Disney movies. I just also love the tinkerbell movies within them. I watched Disney movies as a kid and loved them, and I never had issues with not knowing the difference with reality or thinking oh my prince is going to save me. They are just fun and whimsical.

Tinkerbell is nice because the pixie hollow theme is that everyone has a special talent and should use it. Which i like since I'm a craft junky.

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

This is just WOW! I'm so impressed! I'll be linking.

Lori said...

That is incredible! You are quite talented and have wonderful ideas! Ideas that I will be borrowing for a fairy tea party...

Mulan is a good one too, message wise. A girl who in attempt to save her father, works hard to be a good warrior, saving China and coincidentally finding love in the process.

jacs said...

WOW WOW WOW! That was amazing. LOVE this idea. Both our girls have December bdays and this would be a fabulous thing to make up for them this year (5 and 3). Thanks for this incredible idea and great tutorial. :)

Sunnymommie said...

oh wow!! that beautiful!!!!

KRISTA said...

This idea is so great! I just had to try it. My 3-year-old daughter is in love with fairies as well, and I thought this would be such a great project to do together.. Uh, whoops. Not so much.

I've discovered this is a wonderful project for moms to do and THEN present to their kiddos. My DD lost interest about 10 minutes into it, and there I was, an hour and a half later still working slappin' dough. ha! She had resorted to chasing the dog around the kitchen with a rolling pin..

I must say my first attempt was a bit lack luster. A sculptor I am not, and I made my creation a tad too big and ran out of dough. I used all the salt in the house so I couldn't make more!

However, I still think this is a FABULOUS idea and I'm not going to let my first attempt get me down! I'm saving my second attempt for a night my DD is at her grammy's.

Do you have any tips for working with aluminum foil other than smooshing the crap out of it? :)

Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! Cheers!

Jen said...

Oh, I wish I had more time before my daughter's fairy birthday to make something as wonderful as this! She would absolutely love your Pixie Hollow.

Jen
Creative and Curious Kids!

Ann said...

Simply stunning, Lindsey! It's been way too long since I visited here. Have just spent a delightful time getting all caught up with you and your girls.

Bea said...

i love this

Becky Lee Burk said...

WOW amazing!!! I'm so happy to have found your site! Now I just need a little girl so I can make this with her ;)

Kitten Muffin said...

Hey Becky, higher up in the comments Nikolai suggested using the same technique to make Yoda's home on Degobah. Would that suit your lad a bit better?

twolittleseeds said...

Just seen this on crafty crow, this is amazing! x

Jenn W said...

Found your site through Crafty Crow. This is a wonderful idea! I have a 4 and 3 year old, both girls, and this morning we got to work building each of them a fairy home to go with their felt "land" playmats. Thank you so much for explaining the steps and sharing your ingenious ideas for a great project.

MoziEsmé said...

Amazing!

Anonymous said...

thank youuuuuu!!!!! my grandaughter is only 26 days old but i will start now making a whole town and we will complete it together when shes old enough!!! love, stellar...

Anonymous said...

this is truely amazing - thanks for sharing!!
-jo

Kimberly said...

I'm just seeing this now but wanted to let you know that I think it turned out absolutely amazing! I was hoping to make something like this for my daughter for Christmas and you will definitely be my inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing!

Kimberly @ The Muddy Princess

sarah weaver said...

wow!! this is one of the most coolest handmade things I have ever seen!! Hopefully I have a daughter someday so I can make her something like this!

anushka said...

wow! this is amazing. here via simple kids. i'm so glad i know about your blog now. will be following to see what crafty genius thing you come up with next! love love love what you did here!

Lori said...

This is SO amazing! I'm wanting to make one for my girls, too. :)

Just wondering how this has held up with many months of playing?

ginnie said...

Wow! What a wonderful idea! For those of you like me who have no earthly idea how to construct something like this out of aluminum foil, I used a paint can as a mold. Just wrap the foil around and scrunch it and build it up around the can as you go. Sorta. Haha! It's all trial and error but it came out looking pretty good!

ginnie said...

I made this but I used papier mache instead. I know it won't last as long but it's still cute and my girl just loves it! Thanks so much for the idea!!

Charmane said...

This is awesome!!! I REALLY want to do this for my DD i am sure she will love it!!!

mrspelly said...

Amazing! I am curious about the pond. The matte varnish? That would make it thick & flexible to cut out?

priya said...

hi
I absolutely love what u have done.. I tried n failed at the basic structure even ;-) (I m not an artist)
Hey can u help me with a "solar system" project that i think will help my daughter understand the solar system???