How to make a magical fairyland castle
- Credit: Dee Ballard
Our resident crafter Dee Park shows you engage your imagination with this quiky creation.
This is a fantastic craft to engage your imagination while spending time outdoors and could make a whole day’s entertainment: spend the morning crafting your castle out of clay; the afternoon (while the clay is drying) gathering flora and fauna, and then teatime painting and pasting all your finds onto the castle. The beauty of this craft is that it doesn’t require precision, much is hidden under its organic covering and anything else just adds to its whimsical appeal.
Equipment: air drying clay, rolling pin, knife, scissors, water, sponge, paper towel (for spills or excess water).
To decorate: dried flowers and leaves, ready mixed paints (metallic colours work best, I found), glue, double sided sticky foam pads and tape (and a waterproof sealant if you want to place your creation outside).
Roll out about third of a packet of clay into a rectangle about 20cm long by 15cm and no thinner than 0.5cm thick. Fold at right angles 3cm up from the long edge (which will create the base), then carefully roll up. Overlap the two edges to create the cylinder shape of the tower. Moisten the two overlapping edges (it helps if you scratch the surface a little for extra grip), then mould the join together.
Tip: Apply water with a sponge as a little goes a long way.
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Using your rolling pin inside as a support surface, cut out a little window or two, not too big and avoiding the edges so the tower wall strength won’t be compromised. If you’re feeling brave add a second turret branch. The base will need to be sliced at an angle and then the two surfaces adhered using the same method as before by scratching, moistening with water and pressing while using the rolling pin within the main tower as support.
Tip: Check the shape of your tower is still intact and re-form if need be.
For the roof, roll some clay to the same thickness and cut out a circle, then remove about a third of it. Join these two edges to create a cone using the same adhering method as before. This will become a French pepper pot style turret: very fairy tale like! Place all of these on a baking tray and leave in the oven on no higher than 50C for a few hours until it has completely dried.
Tip: The clay will become stronger once it has been removed from the oven and cooled.
Use lots of glue, or double-sided sticky tape, to stick your nature cladding on. We glued some dried scrunched leaves on the tower, allowed to dry and then painted with ready mixed bronze paint. It isn’t essential the leaves are dried, but it does make gluing them on easier. We then used the petals from a dried hydrangea flower head to make a turret roof. Pop a battery powered tea light inside and your castle will look magical.
Tip: Double-sided foam sticky pads are handy for sticking the twigs for window frames or snail shells for door knobs.
Dee turned her back on a successful career in accountancy to marry a Lancashire dairy farmer – she now lives in a farmhouse at Ellel near Lancaster where she has thrown herself in to rural life. A lifelong crafter, she now runs workshops and demonstrations, showing others how to make crafts for the home, many of them using only natural materials.
To find out more, go to followthehare.co.uk
We took this a step further and made a terrarium to host our castles. To do this, use a large lidded glass or plastic jar, a layer of smallish stones, then a layer of soil sprinkled with a teaspoon of activated carbon (to absorb toxins and easily bought online). We completed our scene with fences made of twigs interwoven with twine, mini trees, swings made of seed heads and cotton thread, and gravel paths. Be aware that one terrarium will probably not be enough!
For more creative castle ideas, extra inspiration and information, including where to source materials and crafty make ideas, visit @followthehare.co.uk on Instagram.