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- 1/8″ or 1/4″ plywood (from your local hardware shop)
- craft sticks
- polymer clay (gray & black)
- Liquid Nails
- Craft Paint (exterior craft paint for a garden fairy door)
- thinset mortar (available at hardware stores. If it’s for the garden, get exterior thinset mortar)
- sanded grout (again, make sure to get the kind for exterior use if you’re planning to keep it outside).
- some sort of masking tape (to protect door while grouting)
- flat stones (nature walk, or check Etsy.com)
For an exterior fairy door, you will also need:
- 1/4″ cement board (I used Hardiebacker, which should be readily available at a hardware shop)
- exterior window and door caulk
- grout sealer
- Varathane (I found a smaller can at Menards. Note the finish.)
*Note* Amazon and Blick links are affiliate links. The product prices are the same for you, whether or not you use the links. I only suggest what I personally use and love myself, so I hope my suggestions will be of value to you.
1. Cut the boards.
If you want to make a fairy door for the garden, you’ll want a 1/8″ or 1/4″ piece of plywood and a 1/4″ piece of cement board. I found it easiest to cut the cement board with a very sharp utility knife. I had to score it a billion times. At least a billion. Seriously. But once you’ve scored it till you’re blue in the face, it does snap where you want it relatively easily. There is also a way to cut plywood with a utility knife, though you may want to break out the old jigsaw.
Score the craft sticks and ‘stick’ in place with Liquid Nails (see what I did there?).
Glue the cement board to the plywood board with Liquid Nails. If you’re planning to keep your fairy door inside, there is no need for the cement board. You can either put your stones right on the base plywood (the one with craft sticks are as well), or you can cut another plywood board to glue on top of the base plywood board. The benefit of having another plywood board on top the base is that the door will have a nice recessed look. Up to you, King Friday.
3. Make the Polymer Clay Embellishments
I used a mixture of gray and black polymer clay to make the door embellishments. About the decorative bar on the door… You can kind of wrap the polymer around the edges of the craft stick to make the polymer stay in place. I used a leaf imprint to get an easy leaf look. Bake it (yes, the craft stick can go in the oven no problemo). And then sand it to get a pretty aged look.
I made a separate tutorial on making polymer clay look like stone. You’ll want to watch that one, and add those supplies to your shopping list, if you want to go for the carved stone look on your fairy door.
I used black outdoor craft paint first, covering almost all the raw wood, including the back. I left just a little bit unpainted because I wanted the glue to stick right onto the wood, instead of the on the painted wood. Perhaps that doesn’t matter much though.
After that dried, I used a sage color of outdoor acrylic craft paint and dry brushed so I could see the black through the cracks. Love this step.
There was a bit of a gap on the back of the piece where the cement board met with the plywood, so I filled it with exterior grade caulk.
Watch a few videos about how to mortar, read the directions on the bag, and then just go for it. I used thinset mortar by Mapei, for interior or exterior use. There is a polymer additive in the mortar that gives it flexibility. You can get mortar at any hardware store. Let it dry 24 hours, and you can’t cheat on that dry time. I looked that up and they really want you to wait 24 hours before you put the grout on.
Again, watch some how to grout videos, read the directions on the bag, and, get dirty. I used sanded grout by Mapei, for interior or exterior use. I found it easiest to use my hands to work the grout between the stones, but you may want to try using a putty knife. I taped the door before grouting just to reduce some of the mess. Let that dry according to your bag’s directions. The door may need some touching up with the craft paint.
7. Varnish & Seal
- Varnish the painted wood. If you’re planning to keep the door outside, you’ll want to varnish. I suggest Varathane in the video because I know it works well with polymer clay. You don’t need to varnish the polymer clay. Polymer clay is plastic; it is very weather proof. I still suggest Varathane, though, because you may accidentally get the varnish on the polymer clay embellishments as you are brushing varnish on the door. If you can kind of avoid the polymer clay embellishments while varnishing the painted wood, then any varnish made for outdoor furniture should do just fine.
- Seal the grout. Use a grout sealer and brush it over the grout. Here’s a helpful video on sealing grout. I wouldn’t spray the sealer all over, but brushing it into the grout is definitely a great idea.
Some additional points to consider:
- You can add a wire hanger to the back and hang it on your wall… really dresses up a room quickly.
- If you’re wondering why you’d buy all these supplies in bulk when you’re just planning to make one little fairy door ($11 for a 10 lb bag of mortar, $11 for a 10 lb bag of grout, $19 for grout sealer, etc), I applaud you and I agree with your practicality. I knew I wanted to try a number of projects with grout and mortar so I splurged a bit on bulky supplies. I found a hobbyist mosaic supply shop, and I saw some smaller sized products intended for the hobbyist, but the prices were so similar to the hardware store, you might as well just get the larger bags.
If you’re anything like me, you’re always thinking of new artsy projects, and a 10 lb bag of mortar on your craft supply shelf is an OK thing. You have visions of fairy garden patios, dollhouse kitchen floors, another fairy door design, and on and on. We never stop dreaming, do we?