Faeries have returned to Old Lyme, as they do every autumn, and this year, they’ve got a letter for you.
In fact, they have all 26 letters and a few punctuation marks. For 2018, Wee Faerie Village, Florence Griswold Museum’s annual outdoor exhibit, is themed Lettersburg Junction. Each house scattered throughout the museum’s beautiful riverside property is inspired by, and shaped like, a letter of the alphabet. The homes, made by Connecticut and regional artists and some by local schoolchildren, are filled with tiny furniture and fixtures because who knows when the faerie residents will come home.
In Arielle’s Artist Atelier, a teeny easel sits next to pictures of apples, artichokes, acorns and avocados. E is represented by an enclave of small eggplant-shaped homes on an E-shaped walkway, where an earthworm comes to visit. At Ladybug Lodge, a family of ladybugs – Lisa, Lynne, Lily, Leslie and Liz – eat lunch and search for a locket. In Rain Barrel Retreat, a faerie home sits under a rooster weathervane atop a house full of books: “Rabbit Run,” “The Red Tent” and books of riddles.
Let’s wander the faerie path and stop at some of the little domiciles.
This bitty building of bamboo, brick and burlap is bordered by bricks branded with birdhouses, birthday cakes, bears, bunnies, butterflies and bedecked with buttons, beads, bobbins and blue bowls. It is the abode of Benthesikyme, a nymph sea goddess, a daughter of Poseidon, born beneath the briny deep. Beachy Bungalow was built by Vanessa Bunnell and her buddies at Waterford’s Oswegatchie Elementary School.
Hark, who hangs out at this haunted house? It’s the home of Hugo and Harriet Hamilton, hemmed in by headstones and enhanced by deer horns. “Hugo and Harriet dabbled with honeycomb and huckleberry, in order to make healing potions,” says Betsy Marshall, who conjured up the Halloweeny Huckleberry Hollow with her husband, Chris. The Hamiltons had hobbies: One played the harp and they harbored a hedgehog in their home.
Kristen Thornton created Knick-Knackatory in a knobby tree with chess kings and knights, a collection of knick-knacks, knitting, a conglomeration of kites, koi fish, a koala and a considerable crowd of kittens. In this castle, Kadence the Kind-Hearted Knight kept company with King Karl of Kefalonia and his kids, Kyra, Kaia and Keegan, who cavorted on the Katydid Karousel and conceived a world in a kaleidoscope of colors.
Mind your manners at Mini-Manor, an M-shaped manse surrounded by a moat, mulch, mosaics, a mandala, mirrors, marbles, a moon, mushrooms, moss, a mailbox full of mail, milk bottles. It is the mansion of Maeve, the 13th fairy. M is the 13th letter. Maeve wasn’t invited to Sleeping Beauty’s christening, and so cast a magic spell on her.
“She’s got a dark past. Has she mended her ways? That’s up for grabs. My idea is that she hasn’t and she is in hiding,” says maker Megan Jeffery.
Towering Triple Towers
To think up the Towering Triple Towers, David D.J. Rau took twisted, tangled grapewood and tied thresholds together with spiral staircases made of T Scrabble tiles. Triplet faeries Taj, Tia and Tad seem to be having a tea party, with teacups, teapots and teaspoons. Elsewhere in the tower, tools, thimbles and tees lay about, and T-shirts hang on clotheslines. Rau, the Griswold’s director of education and outreach, also curated Wee Faerie Village.
Umbrella Utopia, made by Shelby Chadwick, the museum’s assistant educator, is made of upside-down salad bowls, undulating under a tree. Uncle Ulfred lives in this unusual universe, among untidy mounds of his unique possessions: a uniform, a UFO, Utz chips, Ugg boots, untitled books, a work by Ulysses S. Grant, a DVD of “Up.” Uncle Ulfred works in his upholstery studio, where an ultramarine-colored ukulele is hidden. Can U find it?
? Is For Question Mark?
Why is David Graybill’s faerie so big? Aren’t faeries supposed to be small? And why is it shaped like Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker,” except curled up like a question mark? Is it because thinking a lot makes faeries grow big? Then why don’t all faeries think a lot and grow big? Is that because most faeries don’t want to be big? The most important question of all: Will visitors be able to find the hidden golden question mark among the leaves?
WEE FAERIE VILLAGE runs through Oct. 28 at Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme St. in Old Lyme. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission during Wee Faerie Village is $15, $14 seniors, $13 students, $5 members, free for children 12 and younger. flogris.org.