Building a Fairy Church

how to build a fairy church

My daughters asked if we could add a fairy garden to the memorial shade garden.  I couldn’t think of a reason why not, so they started pinning and sketching out their ideas.  Within a day they were both working on their visions.  My 10 year old wanted a fairy door that would be attached to the base of a tree.  My 5 year old, Vivian, came up to me after a while and said “I love church and I think my fairies want a church.”  This is slightly amusing to most people who know me because my church attendance record is spotty at best.  However, luckily for Vivian, my mothers are both regular church goers and they take her most weeks.

Child requirement fairy garden
This is Vivian’s check list for her fairy garden (with her explanation typed over the pictures).

So when Vivian asked for a fairy church, I thought I could make that for her.  I remembered that Michael’s had a church birdhouse.  I figured I would need to saw an door opening for it, but when I looked on-line, I noticed it already had a set of working doors!  I ran off with my 40% off coupon it tow and bought the last one they had on the shelf ($4.99 without the coupon around $3.00 with the coupon).  Vivian was positive that the church should be a little stone church with a bright teal door.  I had told the girls we could find some small stones at the Dollar Tree, but when we were at home depot getting supplies for planting our garden, I noticed that pea gravel was on sale for under $3.00, and I knew we could find multiple uses for them, so I threw one in our cart (we also used them on the Toad Abode).

After planting way too many plants in the new garden, I came inside and got to work on Vivian’s fairy church.  Here are the supplies you will need to build your own:

  • one wooden birdhouse (in a church shape or another shape if your faeries are not particularly religious),
  • some pea gravel or other small stones,
  • thin set mortar,
  • water,
  • disposable knife and cup,
  • large pine cones,
  • scissors,
  • strong glue (I used E-6000),
  • parchment paper or wax paper (if needed to protect your work surface),
  • and some paint in color(s) of your choosing and an optional clear coat.

Once you have your supplies gathered, you can get to work

  1. Since I was inventing this on the spot, I am going to add a first step that I did not do.  You should paint the house and doors first and let it dry.  I would recommend a color that is close to your thin set for the outer walls, white for the steeple, and brown for the roof (I did gray all over, but these instructions were written with the benefit of hindsight).  If you want to get super fancy, you could paint the base green.
  2. I scooped up some thin-set in a red solo cup.  I added a little water and stirred with a plastic knife until the clumps were gone and it was the consistency of putty.  There were no exact measurements here.  If it seemed to runny, I added water and if it seemed too thin, I added more powder.
  3. I used the plastic knife I was stirring with and spread the mortar mix on one of the side outside walls of the fairy church (another hindsight benefit – I started on the rear wall).  After I spread some mortar, just like icing a cake, I would start pushing stones into the mortar.  I did take care not to get mortar on the flat base, roof, or eves (I used tape, but found that it was unnecessary and kind of got in my way, so I pulled it all off).  This is a great place to get help from a kid.  I spread and we jammed stones in together until it was pretty packed with stones.

    fairy house stone
    Add mortar and stones to back and side walls (pretend that you don’t see the tape and the unfinished pieces of wood showing are painted).
  4. Provided your thin set is not too runny, you should be able to flip it over and work on one of the sides.  If the stones are moving too much, you can let it dry for as long as necessary and stat again (but you will need more thin set).
  5. Keep spreading mortar and applying stones until the back and sides of the house are covered.
  6. Turn the house to the front with the doors.  Here the most important part is to make sure that you do not get any mortar on the doors or door hinges.  You can wrap them in tape if you like, but I found it easy enough to free hand it.  Once you are ready, spread the mortar on the front avoiding the areas previously mentioned.  Apply lots of stones.  I also added a bit of mortar to the sides and put some smaller stones on the corners to keep the front from looking like I did the work one wall at a time.

    Front-fairy-church-stones-mortar
    Stones covering the house (pretending once more that the unfinished wood is painted).
  7. Let the mortar dry overnight.
  8. Get your large pine cones and cut it up for shingles.  For most of this you can cut off the individual seeds without much care on size.  However, you will need to trim some for the final top row and for the front and back sides of the roof.
  9. Start at the bottom of the roof on one side and place pine cone pieces side by side making sure that each “shingle” is lined up on the bottom row.  I found the best way to do this was to place a line of e6000 on the bottom of the roof and then put a little e6000 on the inside of each each individual pine cone piece.  Be careful to use the e6000 according to directions, away from children, and in a well ventilated area.  It is strong!  I would also make sure that you have clear e6000 and not the white that I accidentally purchased for an earlier project (I was not going out and buying more since I could barely move after a marathon gardening session).

    Pine Cone Shingle Roof Application
    Adding pine cone pieces for shingles.
  10.   I kept laying the shingles one by one until I had about 4 rows complete and then I turned it to the other side and did the bottom 4 rows.

    white glue show through pine cone shingles
    This is why I suggest painting the roof brown and NOT using white glue. Luckily, once it is placed in the garden it is not noticeable.
  11. I repeated this pattern on each side, until I got to the top.  You do have to take care that the pieces you use that line up to the steeple and on the final top row of each side are flat and even across the top.  On the final roof rows I also made sure they were roughly the same size, so that the shingles lined up nicely.
  12. Cut off a bunch of the pine cone pieces to where only the seed portion remained.
  13. Glue the cut narrow seeds along the roof pitch and the front and back exposed sides of the roof.  Let dry.

    pine cone shingles on front side of roof
    Thin sliced pine cone seeds used for eves and top of roof.
  14. Add any other painted decorations you wish.  In my case, my daughter wanted a cross on the steeple and black door knobs (you can see where I did that on the picture directly above).  Let dry.
  15. Do two or three layers of clear coat spray paint, let dry, and then enjoy!

Vivian has also put a few fake lizards in the church since they also want to go to church.  I got some major mommy points on this project.  There were a lot of compliments and declarations that I was “the best mommy in the whole wide world.”  Everyday since we put this outside, it is the first thing she runs over too.  She balances on the stone I have outlining the path and then goes and checks out her church.  It is so cute!  I hope the fairies move in soon!  Both girls are dreaming up and working on other fairy project ideas and I will update you with any new additions.

Fairy church and fairy door
The start to the Fairy Compound. We decided to put both the door and church on the same tree.

Please let me know if you make a fairy house/bird house.  I would love to see it!