As a child my parents would take my sisters and I to a little village in Cornwall called Gweek. Every year we would stay in an old family friends’ cottage and during our stay we would drop into a tea room in the village.
This tea room had the most enchanting garden which had hobbit holes dug into the borders and at the bottom of the garden was a parcel of woodland where the ‘Tree ent’ lived, this ent became known in our family as ‘Gloomy Eye’ and it was these hobbit holes and ‘Gloomy Eye’ that made me fall in love with the magic you could create in a garden.
As we live in the middle of woodland and have no garden currently I decided to make some fairy doors for when my daughter grows up so, she too can start believing in the magic that me and my sisters did as a child.
There are plenty of fairy doors on the market that you can buy, I have listed a few that I think look lovely at the bottom of this post. For ours, I had a particular image in mind of what ours will look like and with my handy husband and plenty of oak offcuts I thought it would be so much nicer for us to make them and create something that would last outdoors for years to come, read how we made ours below.
Here’s how we made our rustic and enchanted fairy doors.
I ordered a selection of Dulux colour paint testers as I knew I wouldn’t need huge pots as I wanted each door to be a different colour. These testers came in no time at all and had just enough paint to do a few coats.
As my OH is an oak framer we have an abundance of oak offcuts. I’m often found rummaging through the offcut pile and taking things off into the house to keep for some project or another!
One of the frustrating problems I face is that my OH won’t let me use his machines or power tools, rightly so I might add but I’d love to be able to use them to keep my projects moving and without being quite so dependent on him for help. Here he is cutting the offcuts in half to get the thickness required for our doors.
Once we have the offcuts cut to the right thickness, we measure the width of the doors marking them up to run them through the bandsaw to cut to size.
A template is required so that we can mark the top curve of the door, here we mark it out so that we can then run that through the saw. The finished template that we will use to make sure each door is of a uniform size.
The template was then placed on top of the rest of the door blanks. The final blanks have the curve cut into them with the bandsaw.
A pile of uniform door blanks, ready for the finishing touches. I sanded off the edges (that, I’m allowed to do!) and kept a slightly rough finish on the front. These doors aren’t made to look perfect, they need to look rustic and handmade so too much of a finish would make them look too perfect in my opinion!
I then took a few more of the rough edges off, just enough so that it wouldn’t snag on anything and so that the paint would take. Each door was then primed with two coats of emulsion.
From the huge selection of colours I ordered, I then picked the ones I felt would work best in the woods. I wanted the doors to be seen but not to scream out, all the colours I selected I felt would eventually ‘bed in’ and work well both throughout the seasons.
A stack of painted doors; I applied two thick coats of colour on each.
I then took them back into the workshop and gave them a coat of varnish all round so they would survive most weather conditions.
I love the ironmongery my OH uses on the doors he makes so wanted to find something that looked very traditional. I managed to find a fabulous online shop that sold ironmongery and door furniture for dolls houses, these gave my doors such a wonderful finished look. It was the strap hinges and door knob that I think really made these little doors look like real doors!
I didn’t want to litter our woods with doors however I knew I wanted small areas where fairies had ‘moved in to’ that if we needed, we could move around so I thought the best thing was to find trees, and banks that already had holes in rather than manufacturing something myself which in my eyes wouldn’t have been quite so authentic; so with my daughter strapped to me I went on a walk to scout out good locations for our fairy doors.
This is the perfect example of a hole under a tree; It’s just ideal for the doors and means that with minimal disturbance I was able to plug the hole with a door and there was no need for nails or hinges at all.
An example of how the doors look in another tree.
A perfect spot for a fairy door, there was a neat hole in a bank, under an oak tree, I then used some sticks that were lying nearby and made a chimney, window frame and a hand rail for some stairs I moulded by hand out of the clay.