Build your own mudbrick fairy house in one afternoon, right in your own backyard. It is easy, and so much fun!
Bricks made out of sun-dried mud are called adobes. Adobe bricks date back to the original building techniques used in the southwestern United States, South America, and the Middle East. This building technique requires a lot of labor, and simple tools. So, it is widely used in areas where there are many workers and not a lot of capital.
Our mudbrick fairyhouse is suited for little hands, costs nothing, and inspires the imagination!
Wander your yard, collecting dirt, dried roots, grass clippings, crunchy leaves. Little hands can crumble and mix this all together, and add water. The consistency should be wet enough to hold together but not too soupy.
Spoon mixture into an ice-cube tray and pat it down gently. Ice cube trays with removable dividers will be best for maintaining brick shape. However, we did well using our old “twisty” ice cube trays (not BPA-free, and labeled ‘for crafts only).
Drizzle water along the tray if the mud still seems crumbly. Pat down.
Let the bricks form for a few minutes, then carefully remove the mudbricks from the ice cube tray. Flip the tray upside down and gently knock it against the ground to loosen bricks enough to fall out on their own. Little hands can reshape the bricks, as needed.
Now, the mudbricks need to dry out. You can either lay them in the sun for three days to dry naturally, or, if your little one is eager to get to the fun building stage, you can dry your mud bricks in the oven for two hours at 150 degrees.
Choose your location. After much wandering and conversation about where the fairy house should be built, we decided to claim some land at the foot of our Sequoyah, allowing for shade from the elements, and access to neighboring flowers that the fairies can use for their flower petal skirts.
Next it is time to make mortar! Use the same mud mixture as for the bricks, but make it soupier, and use this as your mortar when you lay your mudbricks. Lay a coating of mortar as a foundation for your selected location.
Once your mudbricks have dried hard, you can begin building!
We laid bark across the width at the front of our house, to structure a front entrance. Eager hands laid soft grass clippings inside for resting fairies.
Two long pieces of fallen bark were collected to make our leaning roof, and we adhered the pieces with mortar. Leftover mortar can be laid for setting a winding flagstone path (see below).
Another piece of bark made a perfect sign (at right), to help direct wandering fairies to the newly built mudbrick fairy house, waiting to be claimed as a home.
We popped out of bed after dark that night, flashlight in hand, to take a peek inside….no inhabitants yet. But we know there will be! Use a variation of this for gnome houses too.
Leanne Southall is a social service worker and co-founder of a parenting group dedicated to supporting families on their way to greener living. Leanne lives in a tucked-away cottage in Los Angeles with her partner, daughter and gentle dog. When she isn’t sewing, she can be found barefoot and playing in the dirt. Follow Leanne on Facebook at Bonnetfriend.