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To Build a Fairy Tale Cottage

You can probably imagine my excitement when I learned that my proposal for the Fairfield Art Association's Imaginative Little Library Installation had been accepted. I have always loved visiting the library and stories play a large role within my art. Of course I would want to participate in a project creating my own free little library.

Within my proposal, I had dreamed up a fairy tale cottage, complete with stone walls, real shingles, and a faux window showing a scene of the duster's faeries within the library. I ambitiously built upon this idea, wanting to paint native plants, bees, and butterflies, and add fake moss, and maybe even build on a side shelf. After all, I had two months to complete the project, which I thought would be plenty of time.

I was wrong.

Enter the birth of my son, Rowan Michael. My days, once filled with painting and creating, were replaced with caring for my new little creation. He was born at the end of March, and I wasn't able to travel the two hours to Fairfiled to pick up the library until the beginning of May. Suddenly I was faced with completing my fairy tale cottage within a month, so it would be ready for installation in June.

So, as you can imagine, I spent every spare minute in May working on the library. The first week I sanded and gessoed the library so it would be ready to paint. Then I got to work painting the faux stones. I decided on river stones, preferring their organic shapes to those of brick. Painting the stones offered some much needed relaxation, as the process of layering the colors was very meditative.

Between feeding the baby, I taped off the stones and began staining the wood. During naps, I added little metal embellishments to the door. While daddy held him, I sketched the window scene on the back of the library.

This was going to be the most in-depth part, because I wasn't just painting a scene, I was building a window. First, I painted the duster faeries. Then I created little stones to glue on to make the window sill. I still needed to add grout and finally resin, to make the window as real as possible.

Everything was going smoothly, except for the roof. I really wanted the roof to have real shingles instead of just painted wood. At first I was going to use dollhouse shingles, but when I saw the library I decided against them because they would be too small. And they would take forever to apply. What to do? I decided on trying stone tiles. After hours spent researching, I finally ordered some natural slate tiles. Alas, I had not considered the weight that the stone would add to the already heavy library. Tiles wouldn’t work. Time was running out and I was panicking.

I was going to have to make yet another trip to Home Depot to cut my own wood tiles, or something. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a better option in the form of a bamboo bath mat. It was perfect! The tiles were light wight and already sealed and waterproofed for the bath. Some wood glue, and a happy dance, later I had my roof.

The last two weeks of May were spent in a mad dash to finish the little library. I still had to finish the faux window, paint a banner on front, add the roof cap, and waterproof the whole thing. It all wouldn't have been possible, if my wonderful mother-in-law hadn't paid a visit. She got some fun grandma time with baby Rowan, and I got some much needed work done on the library.

Finally, it was finished! I delivered the Fairy Tale Cottage library back to Fairfield the weekend before the exhibit. I can't wait to see it installed. The Little Libraries will be installed downtown for the First Friday Art Walk on June 3rd, and remain up over the summer. They will be auctioned off during the August Art Walk, so if you want your own little library be sure to stop by Fairfield. Proceeds will benefit the FairField Art Association and the artist.

Note: Installation takes place in Fairfiled Iowa. To learn more visit


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