Monday, July 16, 2012

Hidden Fairy Grotto - a tutorial

I love fairy gardens and terrariums, and I thought I would add a wee twist to this classic project.  In a darkened room, you can hold a torch to the side of this terrarium (details further into the tutorial) and peep into this hidden world through the gap at the top.  Depending on how you decorate your grotto, kids will have fun trying to spot items in this little fairy world.  Eleanor & Garland haven't yet discovered the world of fairies and all things magic, but I am ready and prepared for when that moment comes.  I think this would be a fun project to do with your kiddo, but would make kind of a neat surprise too.  

Okay so a few things.  I didn't manage to get a photo, but see those tiny pebbles up there in the ingredients list?  I used that red paint - painted 'em - let 'em dry - grabbed a tooth pick & the white paint - and added little dots to them.  Instant mini sized toadstools.  It would've been cool if I'd got a decent picture of that, but to be honest, it was a bit of a messy process and the shots I took didn't turn out well. I'll let you imagine it (you can spy these cute toadstools in some of the images in this tutorial).  Once you've painted your mini toadstools, add them to your nice mossy garden. 

I used a peanut butter jar because I wanted a plastic one that I was happy for Ellie to play with, and also  they are wide enough to decorate with relative ease.  My decorations were pretty simple.  I'm sure you could do something more fun.

Also, I flagged the fern in the end, and went with a twiggy branch.  I was too scared (it was dark, rainy and cold) to go outside and find a pretty one, so I salvaged something from our firewood pile.  Yup.   And I found it easier to arrange my grotto before painting my jar black, so that I could see what I was doing, but you can always switch around this part of the process as it suits.

I was seized by inspiration partway through, and had to wait for paint to dry anyway...  So, glittery branches appeared.

I used a small jar to mix some water with glue, before painting the inside of the jar.  Then I sprinkled glitter inside.  Ahhhh, so satisfying!  And pretty.  I guess I'm not too old for glitter...

I played around for quite awhile to get this next part right.  I found that a small hole obscured the grotto too much, and you just had no idea what you were looking at.  Having no lid worked, but kinda ruined the whole idea.  In the end this is what I went with, and I think it works fine.  Feel free to play around and decide what works best for you. Maybe it would be cool to have a sliding piece to cover the hole when you're not using it...  I don't know how you'd do it, but it would be cool right?

The purpose here is to have a space to let light in on your grotto.  I found that it worked best higher up, but again, play around and see what works.  You can always scratch a new circle, or paint over any that don't work.

When you're done, turn out the lights, hold a torch against that gap on the side of your jar, and take turns admiring the pretty little scene you have created!

UPDATE:  I just entered this competition. If you are inspired to do the same, there's still time!


  1. Magical. I love terrariums and this one is so cute. x

  2. Oh my goodness! You are a never ending fountain of amazing ideas Stella! This is brilliant and you did so well photographing it, must have been tricky! The Munchkin and I are doing this for sure, it's like looking into an Enid Blyton book :)

  3. This is so cool, I've just shown my 8 year daughter, and said here is a groovy x-mas present she can make using her shell collection and some of her snail shells from her pet snails.

    Sunshine Coast, QLD,Australia

  4. Very cool, love fairies!

  5. Amazing! you should enter it here
    would make a beautiful gift.

  6. I am so going to do this- my girls are obsessed with fairies and would absolutely love this- thanks so much for the idea Stella!

  7. This is so cute, and I love the layout of your tutorial :)

  8. Wow! What a unique idea-- I love the I Spy aspect!

  9. I need this in my life. And my room.

  10. I need this in my life. And my room.