I have been dying to get this written up and posted!  It is a, long post - because there is whole lot of FUN!! Chloe delighted me by choosing a fairy theme for her birthday party.  As a life-long fairy obsessed aficionado, my mind was bursting with ideas - only a fraction of which actually came to life.  But what did come together tickled me pink!

The invitations were pretty simple.  I adore Cicely Mary Barker (my collection of her books is on the 'don't touch without permission shelf', although my girls have duplicate well worn versions on their own bookcase), so one of her delightful fairies had to make an appearance.  This pixie, who reminds me of Chloe, is the Candy Tuft Fairy.

Guests arrived through a fairy bower of tulle and flowers.  Tulle is a fantastic decorating option because it gives a lot of bang for the buck, especially when it goes on sale.  Draping it, tying it in bows, gathering it over windows, so many possibilities for frilly-girly sweet decor!  (Pic doesn't do it justice, it was so sweet)
The hanging light over the table became a floral chandelier with giant flowers, curling ribbon, and dragonflies.  It was my favorite, and I left it up for at least a week after the party!  Oddly enough, it was all made of on-hand supplies.  The giant gerber daisies I had bought to go with flower-fairy costumes a couple halloweens ago, the giant tulips are actually hats that my girls got with their cotton-candy at the Tinkerbell Disney on Ice last year.  And the dragonflies were garden decorations that once-upon-a-time were attached to stakes, but I had removed those and had mounted them to my boys' jungle themed bedroom ceiling when they were little.

Toadstools are just as essential as flowers for a fairy party, so we set to work making a bunch to place around.   See my post for how to paper mache some toadstools of your very own!  

Without wings, a fairy just isn't a fairy!  But without the budget to purchase wings for all the guests, (and of course, the dollar stores never cooperate by having them when I want them, but a mere few weeks later have a whole display of wings in an assortment of colors!) I had to get creative.  I love nothing better than to get creative!!  I'll whine about it, I'll complain that stores should anticipate my needs, but in truth, I love trying to figure out how to do something unique.  I already knew that I did not want to do the tights-on-a-coat-hanger method of wings.  It is a lot more work than the tutorials make it sound like it is, and I've never been happy with them.   So I created these fancy little gossamer wings that look very realistically pixie-like.  For the tutorial, click here.

Finally, after playing flying games, and changing seasons games and other fairy games, the fairy guests did the last obvious necessity - they made fairy wands.  The simplest of the simple crafts - a funfoam wand that they decorate with glitter, jewels and stickers.  Lovely.

Then as they were leaving, they received a sweet little party favor that had strawberry candies, bubbles (I painted the lids with glitter paint to make them more pixie-dusty), and a butterfly barrette.

Happy Flying!!

For the fairy party decor for Chloe's birthday, toadstools were top on my must-have list.  There is something magical about the red polka-dot 'shrooms that makes you know for sure that gnomes and pixies are nearby!

My kids hadn't done paper mache before, and it is a huge part of my own childhood, so I decided to declare a paper mache day. I constructed the bases out of pringles cans and large paper bowls, and paper towel rolls with smaller paper bowls to get a variety of sizes.  I overestimated the amount we'd be able to do, and had a bunch of naked bases left over, but a girl can only do so much.

Now this is the point where I look like a fantastic mom doing crafts with my kids and being all creative and 'with it.' I should totally leave it at that.  You're all so impressed with me, right?

   But oh dear, paper mache got SO out of hand!  It got in hair and on clothes, the kids kept shaking their hands off and flipping it far and wide.  They kept going in and out of the house and getting it all over the doorknobs and on every surface indoors and out.  And every one of them left a partially finished project when they decided it was lunchtime and I had to finish them all myself in an extremely cranky mood.  
I'm pretty sure at one point in our fabulous bonding craft time, our entire neighborhood could hear my sweet mommy tones as I discovered paper mache cement had set up in so many places!  I do think that the kids had fun though - for most of the time.  And we did end up with fabulous toadstools!
For those who have never done paper mache - here it is, simply.  Paper strips (I like newspaper).  Mix water & flour (sometimes I add some school glue if I want it really tough).  Not as thick as pancake batter - much more watery.  Dip the strips. Cover your surface. Wait to dry. Repeat for another layer.  Wait to dry.  With each layer you can shape and add detail. Wait till completely dry.  Spraypaint for the base.  Red on top, cream stem, black and grey under the toadstool crown.   Kids painted polkadots.    Voila!

mache'd toadstools - already they have character
Being painted - looks like a toadstool garden sprouted in my yard!

Painting spots

Tinkerbell movie looks right at home!
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Without wings, a fairy just isn't a fairy!  And I've never had great luck with the tights-on-a-coat-hanger style of handmade wings.  So I wanted to create a unique and airy looking gossamer wing for little pixies to wear for dress-up, and my criteria were: inexpensive, pretty, fairly easy to mass produce for birthday party guests.

closeup detail of the iridescent pattern
In my brainstorming, my mind came back to my all time favorite blog, filthwizardry.com, and her post about using plastic bags as iron-ons.  (http://www.filthwizardry.com/2010/03/iron-on-decals-from-plastic-shopping.html)  She said that she got her inspiration from hearing that people iron plastic bags together to create fabric.  What if I were to iron clear cellophane plastic together to make it thick enough to make a membrane-like wing?  

I happened to have some red cellophane in my craft stuff, so I tried it.  If you care to know how excited the result made me, ask my husband, who had to witness the giddiness.  The layers of cellophane, placed between two pieces of paper, bond to each other and become thick, but they also shrink (how much depends on how long the heat is applied and how hot the iron is - it's kind of trial and error.  As they shrink, the layers form these beautiful veins that look just like a dragonfly wing!  I had only wanted the plastic layers to adhere to each other to gain strength - but the way that they formed patterns of veins that look so organic and insect-like was a delightful discovery!!  

The next day I was at the dollar store and picked up a roll of clear and two packages of iridescent cellophane tissue squares.  I am not sure what the difference is - I don't think there is any at all between the 'tissue squares' and cellophane rolls, but in the packaging that called itself cellophane tissue, it was colored, and that's what I wanted.  

I cut out one layer of clear and one layer of color for each wing.  NOTE: I found out the hard way that my colored cellophane had a right side and a wrong side - this was significant both for cutting and for ironing.  Cutting all the same direction, just like cutting sleeves out of fabric, means you end up with all left wings, for example, and no rights.  Also, the iridescent side had to face the clear cellophane or it would stick to the paper when the iron touched it.

cellophane wing before being ironed
cellophane wing after being ironed
I cut my wings to the very edges of an 8 1/2" x 14" sheet of paper, because that's what I had on hand to put the cellophane between the sheets of paper for ironing.  The wing shrunk about 1" all around.  I did burn a couple wings figuring out how long and how hot to iron them - too hot and they melt completely; too cool, they bond without as many distinct veins.  I'd like to try more layers to see how tough I could get them.  

I'd also like to try to figure out a support system because as much as I loved how they fluttered in the breeze when the girls wore them, it would be fun to have them more controllable and stable. They are fun for dress up, but they'd also be great at medieval festivals and renaissance fairs :-)  I just think they're beautiful!  I feel bad because I just did not get pictures that do them any justice at all :(

Each separate wing was then glued between two squares of craft foam, with loops of cute elastic trim also placed there for shoulder bands.  After they dried overnight, I sewed around on my machine to reinforce (I'm uptight like that) and glued on the flower and jewel.  Done!  Wings!

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