Fairy Houses on display in Aullwood until Labor Day

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Miniature fairy garden scenes date back over 100 years to England. Today you will find them everywhere in the gardens.

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Janie Gehman sets up her fairy house. CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON

Janie Gehman sets up her fairy house.  CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON
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Janie Gehman sets up her fairy house. CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON

Designing Divas

The trio of dedicated volunteers who are creating new fairy houses in Aullwood include two sisters – Judi Hill and Janie Gehman – and their good friend, Kathy Anderson.

Hill, who has volunteered at Aullwood for 25 years, first worked in the front desk and then in the gift shop. Eventually, she started making crafts for the store. When Aullwood’s new executive director, Alexis Faust, asked her if she would be interested in creating fairy houses along the wooded path, she recruited her sister and a friend to help her with the project.

“I had built fairy houses in an arboretum in Indiana,” says Faust, who was president and CEO of the Taltree Arboretum before coming to Dayton. “People loved them, they sparked the imagination of everyone – kids, parents, grandparents. “

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Judi Hill creates a landscape for his house. CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON

Judi Hill creates a landscape for his house.  CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON
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Judi Hill creates a landscape for his house. CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON

Hill, who is from Beavercreek, says that when she was 5, she loved a comic book featuring Lilliputs. “I was playing and pretending the Lilliputs were all around me,” she recalls. “They were tiny and I was the giant. I think that’s why people love miniatures – we feel powerful and they’re so small. “

Faust says the three Aullwood volunteers – who have been dubbed the Divas of Design – have the artistry, vision, and skills to create tiny homes that draw thousands of visitors each summer. She says a lot of people come back several times.

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How it’s made

“This first year, I don’t think any of us knew what we were doing,” admits Anderson, who lives in Butler Twp. “We used tree stumps as the basis for the houses. Since then, other materials have been used, from recycled materials to gourds. The more I learn, the more excited I am.

The trio begins with a brainstorming session to decide on an overall theme. “Once we have a theme, we decide on six topics that would represent our theme,” she explains. “For example, when the theme was birds, we had to decide which birds we wanted our houses to represent. “

Each woman then chooses two houses that she would like to build and begins her research. “We learn all we can about our topics and often scour the Internet and YouTube for ideas,” says Anderson. “Then we decide how to build the house. From start to finish, the process takes several months.

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Kathy Anderson is working on her gingerbread house. CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON

Kathy Anderson is working on her gingerbread house.  CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON
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Kathy Anderson is working on her gingerbread house. CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON

Hill says they try not to buy materials for houses and prefer to make them from items they have in their garages, attics and basements. “Before we throw something at the house, we think, ‘What part of a fairy house could this be? This year, for example, a plastic spoon handle became a palisade, a bathtub tray and hanging chain remnant from a chandelier became a castle drawbridge, wine bottle stoppers came together. transformed into a roof and a rope found new life as a thatched roof.

Traditionally, women work together in Aullwood to create their magical homes. This year, due to the pandemic, everyone was working from home.

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“We really missed working together and exchanging ideas with each other,” says Hill. “This year’s installation day, at the end of June, was the first time we saw each other’s creations.

In addition to installing the tiny houses and accessories, the women bring in plants and flowers to create a colorful landscape surrounding each house.

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These miniature dwellings along the Aullwood Nature Center trail have a fairytale theme. CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON

These miniature dwellings along the Aullwood Nature Center trail have a fairytale theme.  CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON
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These miniature dwellings along the Aullwood Nature Center trail have a fairytale theme. CONTRIBUTE / DAVID ANDERSON

The Designing Divas say they couldn’t do their special job without the help of their husbands. “We decided to have the three best husbands in the world because they were all drawn to the project,” says Hill. “They end up doing a lot of the world – hauling topsoil, sawing wood, pulling poison ivy, taking pictures and cheering us on!”

The women are happy to help Aullwood in any way they can. In addition to creating fairy houses, for example, Gehman, who lives in Vandalia, made wreaths for the nature store, baked pies for Apple Fest, helped with summer adventure classes for kids. and became an animal character for the enchanted forest on Halloween.

“I believe Aullwood is really making a difference in the lives of children by exposing them to the wonders of nature and teaching them about the world around them,” she says. “It’s a magical place!

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Yellow Springs’ LIttle Fairy Garden Shop sells handmade fairy-themed fairy-themed gifts, plants, artwork, and fairy costumes. CONTRIBUTED

Yellow Springs' LIttle Fairy Garden Shop sells handmade fairy-themed fairy-themed gifts, plants, artwork, and fairy costumes.  CONTRIBUTED
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Yellow Springs’ LIttle Fairy Garden Shop sells handmade fairy-themed fairy-themed gifts, plants, artwork, and fairy costumes. CONTRIBUTED

Want to make a fairy garden?

If you want to start your own fairy garden, Kim Lemkau, owner of the LIttle Fairy Garden Shop in Yellow Springs, will be happy to help. In addition to selling fairy-themed gifts, plants, art, and handmade fairy costumes, its charming party room is available for miniature garden workshops and birthday gatherings.

Her biggest clients, she says, are grandparents.

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“You can create a fairy garden outdoors, in a birdbath or in a terrarium,” says Lemkau. “You can create a complete scene for as little as $ 40. “

The shop sells tiny figurines, from dragons and pirates to goblins, gnomes, tiny furniture. There you will find miniature plants and unusual plants like the “plant of sensitivity” which opens and closes when touched.

“I used to bake, but wanted to do something more fun,” says Lemkau, who opened his shop four years ago. “I love!”

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The LIttle Fairy Garden Shop in Yellow Springs has a party room that is available for miniature garden workshops and birthday gatherings. CONTRIBUTED

The LIttle Fairy Garden Shop in Yellow Springs has a party room that is available for miniature garden workshops and birthday gatherings.  CONTRIBUTED
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The LIttle Fairy Garden Shop in Yellow Springs has a party room that is available for miniature garden workshops and birthday gatherings. CONTRIBUTED

If you’re looking for miniatures, you’ll find a wide assortment at the Midwest Miniature Showcase in Fairborn, scheduled for August 13-14. There will be over 30 tables of small items for sale by vendors in Ohio and other states.

“My love of miniatures began 63 years ago when I was five and the Fuller Brush salesman came to our house in Dayton and brought miniature lipstick samples in tiny gold tubes,” remembers Kathy Davis of Tipp City, who works on the annual sale. “I was addicted! I loved playing with dolls and dollhouses and being fascinated by fairies. I made fairy houses from dried squash and furnished them with dollhouse furniture. You are never too old to enjoy this wonderful hobby.

HOW TO GET THERE

What: Aullwood Audubon Nature Center and Farm, 1000 Aullwood Road, Dayton

When: From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Admission: Free for children 2 and under, $ 7 for children 3 to 11 and $ 10 for adults and children 12 and over. Free for members of Friends of Aullwood, National Audubon Society. Aullwood is a Blue Star Museum with free entry for the military until Labor Day.

More information: aullwood.audubon.org

HOW TO GET THERE

What: Small shop in the Jardin des Fées

Or: 224 Xenia Ave., on King’s Yard Plaza, Yellow Springs

When: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day

For information: (714) 785-5876 or visit www.littlefairygarden.com

HOW TO GET THERE

What: Miniature Midwestern Showcase

Or: Wingate by Wyndham, 3055 Presidential Drive, Fairborn

When: 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, August 13 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 14.

Admission: $ 5 for adults and $ 3 for children aged 3 to 15.

For information: Call Helen Naughton at (937) 879-9367 or [email protected]


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