Monday, 4 February 2013

Meet Isobel, queen of the fairies

"One thing that I had never found satisfactory during my web search was how to make a head and face for my fairy," says Isobel Adams, a writer who last year took up an unusual hobby. Isobel makes fairies - beautiful little creations sporting vibrant, natural colours and names like Faith and Fable.

"A fairy, according to folklore, is a magical spirit who exists in likeness to a flower, insect, or other small creature. She is a problem solver, helper, fixer, and protector of nature," explains Isobel.

"Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by the diminutive. Miniature villages, models, dollhouses, and...yes...fairies, always drew my full attention which, if you knew me, you would know that is difficult to do. There was something so, might I say, magical about a world so small and all the little people, or creatures, that may live in it."

Her love of crafting these little creatures spun out of thinking about a gift for her friend: "She is a very creative, artistic friend who is intrigued by the mystical. I didn't want to give her something ordinary and I decided to research making fairies. As I made hers I found that it was a very enjoyable process, one that I didn't mind spending hours doing."

Flora was her first. Her hair is a shock of red and plaited and a collar designed to look like autumn leaves surrounds her tiny neck.

Flora - the first fairy

But the floodgates had opened and Isobel began making more fairies for her friends. Following a tradition of naming her creations with an 'F' name, Felicia, Fable and Faith were born.

"Felicia and Fable were also created as gifts for friends and were made during my time at my cottage by the lake; a perfect place for creating fairies. Felicia was my first blond fairy. The friend she was going to is also blond. I think she could also be called my Summer Fairy," says Isobel.

"I thought Fable was kind of cute sitting there on the mossy stump holding her acorn out as a gift. Faith was made with someone in mind but ended up going to someone else which turned out for the better."

But the queen of the fairies was becoming more ambitious, wanting to move away from the simple faces her fairies up to now had been given: "Autumn Fairy was my last creation and my goal with her was to improve the features of the fairies' faces. I didn't like the simplistic, almost childlike, look on the earlier ones. I was pleased with the way she turned out and hope that my future fairies will be even more improved."

Isobel took inspiration from well-known doll makers, deciding that to make her fairies more visually appealing she would give them larger eyes and more symmetry - the traditional hallmarks of beauty. In practise this consisted of creating larger eye cavities, shaping a more heart-shaped head and using a new colour palette.

"I pulled out a bunch of different items to apply colour, one of them being simple crayons. I started by adding a light pink crayon to her cheeks and was delighted by the result. Then I started adding more definition and colours to the eyes, eyebrows and lips. I also got a simple black in ballpoint pen and outlined the iris and lips. Finally, every fairy needs some sparkle and glitter glue is a lot of fun and adds so much to the eyes."

Autumn Fairy
Isobel has also dabbled in another enigmatic creature of folklore: the mermaid. "The mermaid, which as of yet remains nameless, was created because I found the gorgeous multi-coloured yarn which reminded me of the sea. I wanted to try something different and she is the result. I would like to try more mermaids in the future. Being a Pisces, I can't ignore the mystical water "fairies"."

But her next project is firmly back in familiar, diminutive territory: " I think it's only appropriate that I make a Winter Fairy since we are in the middle of a deep freeze in Canada."

Now her daughter helps her create fairies, an art that perhaps will run on for generations. In essence, in the creation of Flora, Isobel has possibly started something that will last for a long, long time - a skill that can be passed on to others, and in the end, isn't that what folklore is all about?

Thanks to Isobel Adams for sharing her creations. You can learn more about them at her blog Flora Fairies and Mermaids