I Spy the Magic
If you’ve been anywhere in Homewood recently, you’ve probably noticed miniature fairy houses popping up in the parks, outside various shops, even in alley-ways. I took my four year old on a scavenger hunt this week to find them, and she was enthralled (almost as much as me)! I discovered the Instagram account associated with these miniature houses awhile back (@ispythemagic) and decided to reach out to this mysterious artist to find out more as curiosity got the best of me.
I have no idea why, but I imagined the artist to be a jolly retired gentleman tinkering around his wood shop making these little gems. It turns out, the mysterious person behind these little houses is a Birmingham mom who works two jobs, yet still manages to find the time to create. How’s that for a Renaissance mom?!
Hints for Your Hunt
I learned that each fairy house is unique, intricately designed, and decorated with hidden meanings and themes. Many of the items came from the artist’s personal collection or from donations of close friends. Other items came as the result of scouting out doll house shops, hobby stores, and Amazon.com.
But if you look closely, you’ll find eight consistencies in every creation. Without giving them all away — because the fun truly is in the hunt — I’ll tell you three of the eight themes:
- a red button,
- a cross, and
- a key.
Look closely, and you’ll find the rest!
Keep Your Eyes Open
The fairy house creator got the idea after a trip two years ago to Asheville, North Carolina. “I saw a couple of little houses on the side of the road down an alley and have wanted to do something for our little community ever since.” She built the first house this past summer and hasn’t looked back.
The artist placed the first house in one of Homewood’s parks, then slowly added more around town — to other parks as well as outside some of the oldest, most recognizable Homewood businesses. Currently there are ten little houses, with more to come, so keep your eyes always open!
Gifts Given in Secret
She refuses to reveal her identity as she knows that will take away some of the fun! And I agree with her. I have no idea who she is — I probably know her, or at the very least, have mutual friends with her. The mystery aspect of this so intriguing. It reminds of the toys and gifts Boo Radley left in the knothole of the tree in To Kill A Mockingbird: gifts given in secret simply for others to enjoy.
In a day and age of so much fear and unrest, I love these little glimmers of innocence and magic we can give to our children — to teach them to step back, look closely, and enjoy art in the most unexpected places.
Our Very Own Fairy House
When we got home after our scavenger hunt, we decided to make our own fairy house for our backyard. We began by gathering antique buttons I inherited from my grandmother, broken pieces of jewelry, as well as moss and acorns and other items. My kids can hardly wait to complete our project together.
Where to Spy the Magic!
Have you spotted any of the fairy houses? If not, I’ll give you a short list of the ones we’ve found, and if you find the rest, please let me know, because I’d love to see them myself!
- Patriot Park in West Homewood
- Homewood’s Central Park
- The alley beside O’Henry’s Coffee
- Outside Homewood Toy & Hobby
- Outside the former White Flowers building
- Two hints: check inside a certain shoe repair store, and take a peek around a music store.
You Can Help the Magic
Would YOU like to get involved? Do you have any tiny dollhouse furniture that’s broken or no longer being used? Or do you have a large button collection or costume jewelry collection and don’t know what to do with it? I learned there are two places you can drop off (or mail items) to help the magic continue:
- Mary Charles Dollhouse Shop in Mountain Brook Village (just tell the workers you have items to donate to I Spy the Magic, and they will happily pass them on to the artist),
- Or mail items to the artist’s friend’s photography studio: c/o I Spy the Magic, 1710 2nd Avenue North, #507, Birmingham, Alabama 35203.
Remember, when you take your children to view the houses: these are works of art, so please don’t touch or remove pieces — they are for everyone to enjoy! And one last hint: look for “joy” in all the houses, because joy can be found in all little things!