Fairy Garden in a Broken Planter

Fairy Garden in a Broken Planter

Once upon a time there was a broken planter in my room. I used it to build a magical mini fairy garden to allow me to showcase the small fairy garden items that I make in clay. That was four years ago. The garden traveled to shows with us and with each show we wondered if it would become like Humpty Dumpty and would never be put back together again. Well, that has finally happened and I am doing this post to show how, if you don’t have broken planters sitting around to work with, you can buy new planters and build the same whimsical world, minus the beautiful patina of the old broken planter.

You will need:

  • A new Terra Cotta planter
  • a dremel tool with a cutting wheel
  • a hammer
  • a dustmask
  • plants and soil
  • and then the Laughing Orange accessories, optional, but delightfully preferred!


I started by marking on the planter with a pencil the approximate shape of cut that I wanted to make. You will see that this is not an exact science and that your planter may take a look of it’s own as you go. You may also destroy the planter in the process, and have to try again with another planter. I bought two just because I was afraid that this would happen to me.


Once Upon a Fairy Garden…

Good Reads


Yesterday was A. A. Milne’s birthday. I saw this posted on Facebook. I love Winnie the Pooh and there was a quote from one of the books. When I clicked on the post that was from Book Bub Blog, I noticed another link to a site that I have ignored for a while called Good Reads. So, they have a 2015 Challenge on there and I decided to take the challenge to read 25 books this year. I don’t know that I can do that many and yet, I don’t know that I can’t read more than that. We don’t have television, per se, so it isn’t like I am watching a ton of crap that is offered there so why not take the challenge.

Currently, I am reading lots of Buddhist type books and self help in order to get my head straight after my son’s death. For now, those are soothing and are inspirational. They are helping me to realize that I have things to work through. So, I need to update the site with those and add the books that I have read that I haven’t put on the site for a couple of years. I use a Kindle app on my phone and on my tablet and recently added it to my laptop but friends have been giving me real books to read and I still love to turn the real pages too.

I recently was gifted the book “Being Mortal”, by Atul Gawande. It is a great book about senior and medical care in our country and how there are some wonderful things that are being tested in nursing home facilities to allow seniors to feel like they are alive and not being treated like prisoners. There is still a long way to go to change the mindset to allow more of this to happen but in an age where we are keeping people alive, many times at ridiculous measures, it is nice to read that someone is trying new ideas and trying to treat these people with respect they have earned.

Another book that I just received is called Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I have only read a few pages but it looks like it is going to be a comforting book from a woman’s perspective on dealing with suffering and making suffering manageable.

And I was loaned Paul Newman’s book called “In Pursuit of the Common Good” about how he and his partner started their salad dressing business with all natural ingredients and the funny ways that they went about putting their product out onto the grocery shelves. They were trying to take the local approach and kept running into the large corporations who stifled their creativity.

It has only been in the past 10 years or so that I have really started reading in earnest. I tried to go back and read thing the classics because I wasn’t really interested in reading them when I was “supposed” to be reading them. Books¬†like stories by Mark Twain, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and A People’s History of the United States. I found that I really loved reading the biographies of our founding fathers. And I remember thinking to myself, as I was reading Mark Twain, “this is really good” and being embarrassed to say that out loud. Reading wasn’t really emphasized in my house growing up and it was in my husband’s. He is now a librarian so I have a good resource to go to for ideas of what to read. Both our boys were and are voracious readers.

So, I will go and update my list and see what the 25 books may be for 2015. I think, currently, I have about 6 different books in process at the same time. I may have to reread Winnie the Pooh just for grounding though.

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh.

“There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”

A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh.

Such wish words from a bear.

Build Your Own Fairy Garden Class

Fairy Garden collage

Fairy Garden Items

Shenandoah County Parks and Rec has asked me to teach a Build Your Own Fairy Garden Class. I thought this would be a fun way to introduce, not only fairy gardens but, working in clay. Hand building clay items is relaxing and fun and a great way to experience the ceramics process.

The class is listed in the Fall Program Guide that came in the mail about a week ago. Registration for classes started on August 18th and the deadline to sign up for my class is the 23rd of September. You can download the form here…

The listing in the catalog reads as follows:

Build Your Own Fairy Garden

Fairy gardens are a fun way to add whimsy to your outside garden, porch or patio. They can also add interest to an indoor potted plant. In this class, you will build all the accessories to make your own fairy garden out of stoneware clay while leaning about hand-building with clay and the processes that it takes to make miniature items. You can assemble a fairy garden when the accessories are finished and this class will  help you do that too. There will be three total classes. During the last class, you have the option to take your accessories home to assemble your fairy garden or bring your plants along to class for assistance in assembling! PLEASE NOTE: Registration deadline is September 23 For ages 13 and over.

Saturday, September 27th, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Saturday, October 4th, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Saturday, October 11th, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

The class will be held in Community Room #1 of the Historic Courthouse in Woodstock, VA and the fee for the class is $59.00 per person. The fairy garden kit, in my Etsy shop sells for $120 so this is a great opportunity. Don’t miss it!

Looking to 2013

basementWith a year under my belt, I am pleased with the ground work that I have put into place for Laughing Orange Studio. It has certainly been a year of things to learn and what to do better in 2013.

In 2012 I learned:

  • how to gauge my inventory
  • how hard to push myself
  • how to pace myself
  • how to do USPS online and how to approximate shipping costs
  • refining my mug design and handles
  • what items I need to take to shows and what not to take
  • that Etsy is not going to make me as much money as I had hoped and it is going to have to be a supplemental source of income and at Christmas I need to think more local
  • to double box my packages to avoid breakages in shipping
  • that this blog is a way to inform everyone what I am doing with a story but can’t dominate the process of making
  • that I am closer to finding my “voice” in the clay but it will take a bit more time
  • that it is okay to only make one of something
  • that my customers need to buy immediately if they want something because someone else will snap it up and it won’t be here next week
  • how to do an Open House
  • how to use a square reader
  • how to shop for the best price on supplies
  • that it is almost impossible to keep the clay from migrating to my upstairs living area and that I really have to take a day a week and clean to avoid having it build up
  • that I need to hang onto receipts for my bookkeeping

old building-4

So, looking ahead to 2013, I am pleased to announce, first off, that I am planning on building a new studio….YAY!!! I go before the planning committee of Tom’s Brook this week and am going to present them with my idea to convert an outbuilding on my property to a studio. My hope is that they will allow me to tear it down and replace it with a new metal building that will be more efficient and will help me to have taller ceilings and more space.

I am also hoping to:

  • do a show locally (within a 200 mile radius) every other month or so
  • build a catalog of work, not just the few items I am making now
  • keep better track of items
  • keep building a local customer base…mailings, another open house, local events
  • add another kiln that is larger
  • work on getting my glazes to better fit the clay body that I am using
  • do some glaze tests
  • show the progress of my year with social media and this blog
  • make a little more money….this should probably be at the top of the list, right?

Thanks to everyone that helped me in this first year. I’m realizing that I am happier now than I have been in years and don’t have to deal with anyone’s rules but my own. Happiness isn’t about money, it is about doing what you love but I realize that I have Herb and all of my friends and supporters helping me to do what I love. I just wish I was a bit younger in starting this new adventure.