Wee Faerie Village, Old Lyme, CT

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Wee Faerie Village is an outdoor event sponsored by the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Located on the banks of the Lieutenant River. the museum was the former home of the Lyme Art Colony created by Miss Florence Griswold in the 1800s.

Each year since 2009, the Florence Griswold Museum (the acclaimed “Museum of American impressionism”) transforms their 11 acres of historic gardens and grounds into an enchanted playground called “Wee Faerie Village” with over two dozen faerie dwellings, miniature habitats made out of natural or found materials and scaled for a winged faerie three inches tall or less. Held in the month of October, the outdoor walking tour also included admission to the Florence Griswold House, Chadwick Studio, Rafal Landscape Center and Krieble Gallery featuring the special exhibitions.

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The idea for the Museum’s faerie village came from the annual Fairy House Garden Tour held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and organized by children’s book author and faerie house aficionado, Tracy Kane. The Museum however, decided to link their faeries directly to the history of the Lyme Art Colony. Instead of generic faeries, the Museum’s village would be inhabited by wee faerie muses who “inspired” the original painters of the art colony that stayed in the Griswold House when it operated as a boardinghouse for artists.

To create the faerie dwellings, the Museum enlisted the help of landscape painters and sculptors, as well as college professors, librarians, curators, architects, landscape designers, naturalists, children’s authors, interior decorators, gardeners, and exhibition designers, each of whom would bring their own distinct twist to a faerie dwelling and miniscule gardens constructed from materials (twigs, moss, stumps, fungi, pinecones, shells, and stones) found in local forests

As the event opened to the public, visitors received a “Wee Faerie Village Map” that included a history of the site and the “Wee Faerie Village. In addition, the visitors received a “ring-jingle” – a bracelet of beads and bells. The bracelets served as a ticketing device, and its jingle was to warn the faeries of a visitor’s approach. At the end of the tour, visitors were invited to “Beyond the Beyond,” a special wooded area where they could build their own fairy houses with bark, shells and moss. Children were encouraged to dress as fairies to enhance their experience.

The map listed the faerie dwellings along the route using faerie-sounding place names such as “Far Far Far Away” (located in the far corner of the property), “Marshymellows” (located on the banks of the salt marsh), and “Water Fall Downs” (located at a drop in the small babbling brook).

It also listed the wee muses by their faerie names, such as Whisp, N, Rusty, or Tweed, witty monikers that were often word plays on some aspect of the historic artist or their art. The faerie Hazel, for instance, was linked with Bruce Crane, a painter whose ethereal images were often veiled in a light mist or haze, and the faerie Moo worked for the artist William Henry Howe, who was famous for painting cows.

Lastly, the map included the phone numbers for the Guide by Cell phone tour in which the faeries would communicate via an answering machine message and explain about their house and the artist they inspired.

“Hello! My name is Iris, like the beautiful flowers in Miss Florence’s garden. Sorry I am not home right now. I’m out harvesting seeds. Please feel free to look around my house. You’ll notice my house is made of a box of artist’s pastels that I found on the bank of the Lieutenant River…” – Cell Phone Message

“You have reached the studio of Luna, and I’m not here right now because it’s probably daylight and I prefer to work at night, by the light of the moon. But… if you stay on the line – I’ll let you in on a secret … Do you know the artist Childe Hassam? Well it was me – “moi” – who inspired his artistic talents and made him famous!” – Cell Phone message

Since 2009, the theme of each “Wee Faerie Village” has varied:

  • 2010 – “Wee Fairie Village: Scarecrows at the Museum” – a magical land featuring scarecrows based on famous artists or works of art. Visitors to the month-long event will find the likes of Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali and others along the self-guided tour. The Museum planted a small field of Indian corn for the festival. Visitors could try on a fun assortment of costumes provided and pretend to be a scarecrow.
  • 2011 – “Wee Fairie Village: “Of Feathers and Fairy Tales: Enchanted Birdhouses at the Museum,” with renderings of Jack and the Beanstalk, The Princess and the Pea, Snow White, Three Billy Goats Gruff. This clever art installation brings the magical world of favorite fairy tales into supremely creative, handcrafted birdhouses.
  • 2012 – “Wee Faerie Village: In the Land of Picture Making,” which made its debut at the Old Lyme art space three years ago, is back by popular demand. Thirty-three tiny homes and gardens for a variety of sprites and nymphs are scattered throughout the museum’s lovely 11 acres of landscaped riverfront property. “Wee Faerie Village in the Land of Picture Making” with the works of over 30 artists, who created faerie dwellings reminiscent of your favorite piece of art.
  • 2013“Wee Faerie Village: In the Land of Oz” – Combining both the enchantment of “wee faeries” and the classic story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum,L. Frank Baum’s classic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz inspired a tiny yellow brick road winding its way across the grounds of the Florence Griswold Museum with faerie-sized versions of the books 24 chapters: from the twisty Kansas cyclone to small village of Munchinland, through the dark woods and colorful poppy fields, to the Emerald City and Wicked Witch’s castle, and home again.
  • 2014“Wee Fairie Village: Alice in Wonderland” – artists and designers created over two dozen faerie-scaled installations must recount Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in a steampunk setting. Imagine a miniature Victorian world viewed through a steam-powered futuristic lens. Visitors will travel the Museum’s 11 acres to discover a faerie version of Lewis Carroll’s topsy-turvy dreamlike world. With guide in hand they will follow Alice’s adventures – keeping up with the tardy White Rabbit…surviving the Mad Tea Party…drinking and eating to change size…talking with flowers…and playing croquet with the hot-tempered Queen of Hearts. The term “steampunk” was coined in the early 1980s, and refers to an art and design subculture that blends history, fantasy, and the Victorian era into a fanciful blend. The term describes an imaginary world where iconic images from our steam-powered past (think cogs, gears, and flywheels) is married to the technologies of today.

Wee Faerie Village
c/o The Florence Griswold Museum
96 Lyme St, Old Lyme, CT 06371

Florence Griswold Museum (Website)
Florence Griswold Museum (Facebook)
Florence Griswold Museum (Article)
Florence Griswold Museum (Article)
Florence Griswold Museum (Article)
Florence Griswold Museum (Article)
Wee Faerie Village Event – 2011 (Photos)
Wee Faerie Village Event – 2012 (Photos)
Wee Faerie Village Event – 2013 (Photos)

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About

Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Fairy Houses and Doors, Gardens and Nature Trails

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