The Making of a Mural – Part 3 – Fairy Wings

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My third wings of the west instalment has officially been unveiled! They are located at the end of a whimsical, winding fairy trail in Cassadaga. The trailhead starts at the corner of Chauncey and Seneca St. This set of wings is unique in many ways, but one big difference is the fact that they are not painted on an existing wall or structure like my previous murals. Why? Well, they really are in the woods!

When I did the first site visit, I looked at several options along the fairy trail. The chosen location was a hands down, no brainer kind of decision. As I walked the trail with Georgia Turner and Dawn Medley, we were approaching what seemed to be the end of the trail. There was a large pine tree strattled above the trail that had likely wedged itself into place during one of our hurricanes. Beyond that was an even larger pine that had fallen directly onto the trail. A walkway sized “gap” was cut out of the larger fallen pine to allow foot traffic to continue down the path. To me, this was the perfect gateway into what would be the home of the life size fairy wings.

From there I began brainstorming and sketched an initial design. I knew I wanted them to be very whimsical and dainty. Since there was no existing structure, and I wanted them to feel organic, “floating” wings was the answer! Since they would be spending so much time with Mother Nature, special care was taken in selecting the materials for the wings. 4’x8’ sheets of marine grade plywood got the project started. I drew the outline of my design and my husband, Jeff cut out the pattern with a jigsaw. I primed and sealed the wood to prevent mildew and then it was time for the color!

Choosing the colors was a challenge, but in the end, I was very happy with how they all tied together. Fine glitter dust incorporated into the paint was a MUST! Fairy wings have to have fairy dust! I loved how sculptural the mural was and wanted to emphasize that with metal scroll details extending off each side. My dad is a welder and metal fabricator and happily turned this vision into reality. He also constructed support and mounting boards to the back of the wings to make install easier.

We planned an installation a couple days before the unveiling to leave room and time for any unforeseen hiccups. The in-house carpenter of Cassadaga, Bill, secured two posts into the ground prior to the scheduled installation. The wings were transported in the back of two trucks to the site. Our sparkly caravan delivered the wings unscathed and without any threat of rain. It was all hands on deck as they were hoisted into place against the pre-set poles. Minor adjustments were made; “up a little, no down a little…perfect!” and one at a time, the wings came to life. They fit into their setting just as I hoped…almost as if they grew right out of the ground.

Creating these wings brought me through a nostalgic journey down memory lane. Growing up, I had the joy of knowing a woman named Joan Powis. She was our next door neighbor for many years. A lovely English woman with a beautiful outlook on life and a vivacious soul. She left a special impression on me. She too was an artist. She taught me; to really notice the little things in life, that it’s never too late to learn how to play the piano, that a glass of wine can put you at peace with the world, that food can be described as gorgeous and to believe in fairies.

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