Fairy houses- here's how -loooong post
First, thank you all for the kind compliments! I'm glad you enjoyed the wee houses.
I'll try and outline my fairy house technique. It's not complicated, just a little time consuming. It's a "hurry up and wait" kind of project.
This is going to be a long post so go get yourself a cup of your favorite beverage and get comfy.
Here we go!
I use GE Silicone II, clear.I have both a large caulk gun tube and a small hand tube available. I've found that I need them both. I use the toothpaste tube squeezer thingies on the small tubes. It helps keep the sillycone at the working end of the tube. Also a supply of toothpicks is handy for dabbing on silicone and helping to position or hold pieces in place. I use toothpicks because I hate trying to work with sticky or goopy tools. I wear thin vinyl gloves as much as possible. I have better things to do than trying to dig silicone out from under my fingernails.
Keep in mind that the silicone does release fumes so always work in a well ventilated area. Always read the warning labels.
What ever you choose for a base it should have smooth sides and be structurally sound or can be repaired and made to be so. A minimum of tight corners or funky angles is nice, especially if it's your first house or two.
Size is personal preference but avoiding doing anything too small or itty bitty until you've made one or two larger ones. Use a base that's no taller than a sheet of regular notebook/printer paper is long and no shorter that the sheet of paper is wide. Big houses take a lot of material to cover and little ones are tougher to work on. Once you get a feel for it you can work on anything, I'm just trying to make it easier to start.
The little "log cabin" or "siding" covered houses look cute on the craft store shelf but remember you're going to be covering all that up and those uneven surfaces will be a pain. Go for simple, go for plain.
I use the hole in the birdhouse for the door,I just cover it up with my "door". I suppose it could be a window too. Suit yourself.
The houses in my photos are built on craft store type bird houses, not real ones. The taller ones were "schoolhouses" with a bell tower on the roof, I picked them up at an after Christmas clearance sale. They needed some repair and were really cheap, I think I paid $.50 for one of them.
I've also "built" fairy houses on pieces of PVC pipe, a bowling ball, faux rocks made of 'tufa, and a metal cracker tin. You can use anything that will hold up to the weight of your materials and,if your house is going to live exposed outdoors, is weather resistant.
Base preparation: If the birdhouse has a perch, I cut it off. I prefer to buy the damaged houses that already have the perch broken off. My Michael's store loves me!
Your base needs to be strong so stabilize any structural loose parts but not with white glue. Use something more weather resistant even if your house is going to live indoors. Remove any loose nonstructural pieces that you don't want to work around or keep.
If the wood is bare, I give it two coats of spar varnish. Don't forget to coat the bottom and underneath any eaves and overhangs.
If painted wood, a very light sanding will remove any chalky or loose paint. Repaint it if you don't like the base color.
If you're working on plastic, resin or PVC, wash it well and lightly sand the entire surface to give the silicone a rough surface to "grip".
Bowling balls should be well washed to remove any wax or oils and then lightly sanded.
If you're using metal, wash it well to remove any dirt, grime, oils, etc. Allow to dry completely, check the little seams for moisture. If the metal has any rust you need to treat it to stop the rusting. If the metal is in good shape give it a coat of clear sealer or Rustoleum in your color of choice.
This is where the fun begins! What materials do you have on hand or can find? Do you have a theme? Do you prefer to use natural materials or can you sneak in a few manmade ones? What type of fairies are you building for?
If you're using natural materials be sure they're sturdy enough to withstand handling, gluing and the weather.
Tree bark,nut shells,fruit pits,seed pods,sticks,pine/cedar cones,vines,pebbles,rocks and clean shells-fresh or saltwater all hold up well. Avoid fragile or delicate materials, they just won't last.
I do purchase preserved craft moss, usually reindeer. I like using reindeer because you can pull apart into little "branches" and tuck in in here and there. Believe it or not I also purchase bags of small and large polished pebbles/river rocks and sea shells at the $ store.They're clean, ready to use and saves me time. I live in an almost rock free area and I'm not gathering and cleaning sea shells. No thank you.
The plant material I gather myself. I keep a few plastic grocery bags in my car and take advantage of what I can find. I know of a parking lot that has burr oaks planted along one side. Have you ever seen the cap of a burr oak acorn? Very cool. On the other side of this same parking lot is a type of oak tree, sorry but I don't know what kind, that has teeny tiny acorns. The caps on those are about 1/4' wide. Too cute! So keep your eyes open and ask around, who knows what your friends have growing in their yards!
If you use tree bark, please don't peel the tree to get it. Tree naturally shed their bark, gather only what's dropped or is hanging by a thread. Dead trees, of course, are fair game.
If you house is going to live outdoors; after the silicone has FULLY cured you need to lightly seal the entire house with a clear acrylic or enamel spray. Rustoleum makes a good one. The house still needs to be in a sheltered area, kept off the ground (gravel/pebbles work) and definitely out of sprinkler range! Remember it is made of natural materials. It will look like lunch to some critters and be inclined to rot and turn into compost if exposed to too much moisture.
That's about it. The most 2 important things are having a good base to build on and sturdy materials.
If you have any questions or if this is confusing, post!