Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fairy Door Trek

For the last few years, I've heard talk of "fairy doors" in downtown Ann Arbor, but only in hushed whispers or as snippets of conversations. Well, Ann Arbor is a college town with a lot of very artistic and creative people with wonderful powers of imagination, so it never occurred to me that these fairy doors might in fact actually exist. It turns out that they do! For the last few years, several businesses have created dollhouse-sized doors for fairies, either outside or inside of their establishments.

Who knew?! (I don't go downtown much!) Well, the nice folks of the Washtenaw Wanderers Volksporting Club knew, that's who. On Sunday, they hosted three walks that featured fairy doors. Curious and eager for some exercise, my friend Julia and I undertook the 5K (3.1 mile) walk. All of the fairy doors are downtown but the walk took us all the way out to the University of Michigan Stadium (up a hill with a rather long incline, pant huff puff), through a residential neighborhood (more hills, pant wheeze), and down (down, yay!) through Wurster Park back to the starting point. (I had recently visited Wurster as part of Parkathon 2009, and it is home to a gorgeous, huge chinkapin oak, which I was happy to see again.)

Some of the doors were inside, like this lovely teal door in the stairway of Adorn Me, a boutique way too fashionable for me (but not for Julia!). I like the little fenced balcony. For perspective, the door is about 8 inches high.

Another teal fairy door was hidden on the side of a blue bookshelf at the main branch of the Ann Arbor District Library. And if you look closely (or at the first photo in this post), you can see two small friendly visitors on the doorstep! You can imagine my surprise and delight to catch a glimpse of these creatures, but after I blinked, they were gone. I wouldn't have believed I had truly even seen them, if it weren't for this photographic evidence of their mystical and ethereal forms!

This door is on the bottom of a counter at Jefferson Market, which sells sundries and baked goods. It also had a little mailbox (to the right of where the photo ends) for people to leave notes to the fairies. People also like to leave coins and other little trinkets. At the library door, their was a stone, some seeds, and two walnuts.

The Jefferson Market also had these fairy cards for sale, but they were too big to fit into the fairy mailbox.

I liked how this fairy door at Hathaway's Hideaway (a meeting venue) echoed the design of the door for humans. (Yes, that is a blue M&M as an offering.)

The fairy door inside the Crazy Wisdom bookstore is as new age as the store. Note the offerings here include pine needles and a small portrait of the Mona Lisa! Natural and classy combined!

This bright red door at Red Shoes (which incidentally doesn't sell shoes; remember, Ann Arbor is creative!) resembles the bright red main entry door. I think it looks very nice against the teal house and it matches the red mailbox (I don't know what the bag's about). This was the only fairy door that incorporated any kind of plants or flowers, which is what I believe fairies prefer. The owner of the store changes the plants by the season.

The Ark, a music venue on Main Street, not only had a fairy door (under the second window from the left) but a fairy ticket window (on the middle panel under the main window) as well! So clever. Unfortunately, we missed The Ark on the tour Sunday (based partly on the directions and partly on my interpretation) so I went back on Monday, during the snowstorm mentioned in my previous post, to take the photo.

The Ark makes special tickets for fairy lovers, hand-stamped and with intriguing messages, and the handout to the walk says you could take one. Unfortunately, there were no tickets left on Monday and the little window was empty. Apparently, early on when the tickets were first made, people didn't just take one but pulled out the whole roll, so now The Ark only does a limited amount of tickets and only for special events. Fair enough. But, naturally, that's the one fairy door I missed on the one day it would have been best to see it! Grumbles.

But, wait, what's this? Oh, look! It's the little fairy who was all blurry at the library! She must have followed me to cheer me up and here she holds still for a beautiful pose! Thank you, lavender fairy, for brightening my day. I'm sure my blogging friends are happy to see you, too!


  1. Oh my..that is so charming. I have never seen anything like that..What fun and so creative Monica...Michelle

  2. What a creative city! I love the one with the red door & garden. :)

  3. i think i need a fairy door. they are so cute.

  4. But why?

    I mean, they are very beautiful and an enormous amount of work must have gone into them. Not only are they very intricately designed but they are very well made.

    But still - why?

    Perhaps I should do a row of fairy doors along a skirting board to flumox my visitors.


    P.S. I did use to paint odd things on the walls around the house to see how long it took my husband to notice them. There was a cow in the living room, a pig in the bathroom and ants crawling up between the floor and the lightswitch on the landing, along with a clown further along, outside a bedroom. It would sometimes take him six weeks before he'd say, all of a sudden, "what's that cow doing there?" The hardest thing was not to drop hints about them as the time ticked by. E.

  5. How wonderful! Who knew people would come up with something of this sort to please the fairies? Very charming indeed...

  6. Those are too cute! I love all the creativity, but your mention of the U of M stadium made me groan with bad memories. Please, don't make me go there again.

  7. Cute those fairy doors. I never heard of something like this.
    Frohe Ostern Monica.


  8. Too adorable...I love college towns! gail

  9. Was für eine schöne Stadt, liebe Monica. Sooo schöne Türen!

    Ich wünsche Dir ein frohes Osterfest und sende Dir liebe Grüße, Birgit

  10. Fascinating to read about the fairy doors Monica - I was wondering what they are when you mentioned them in your last post :)

  11. As someone who love fairies this post was a delight. They are such cute little little granddaughter would love them.....
    What a lovely idea.....

  12. How wonderful - I love this sort of whimsical imaginative creativity! Wish I could have done the tour.

    I like the design of the arched door in the Crazy Wisdom bookshop, and also the ticket window - what a brilliant idea!

    Oh dear - there's so much to do already over Easter - I'll probably be crawling around the skirting board designing fairy doors now!

  13. Oh, that is so charming. Some are so pretty built into the houses. I got a fairy door and window but they are on my tree.

  14. Never heard of such a thing but fascinating and charming. Do you know who came up with this idea?

  15. Monica these fairy doors are just the cutest thing!!So so charming!
    I cannot believe all the ((((SNOW))) that you have up there!!I was looking at your previous post in disbelief!!I'm so happy to stay put here in the sunny skies of Arizona!! Thanks for the warning!!!!

  16. How cute Monica! Looks like a tour that's right up your alley! Glad to see you're getting in lots of walking - I'd better get moving if I expect to keep up at Spring Fling!

  17. I love the whimsy and how the town has welcomed the Fairies. Wish my university town did the same. As far as I'm concerned it's too cool.

    Thanks for the tour. I don't know if that reinforces the old 'hippy days' impression I had of Ann Arbor or not. Is it 'kool aid' flashbacks or did the residents start snorting pixie dust :)

  18. Hello, came to your blog via Sabine and I just loved this post. How interesting! I've never seen anything like it. Thanks for sharing. Andrea

  19. Hi Monica, I saw this in another post you did one time, wasn't there a link with some photos? It was you, wasn't it? Sorry if it was not. :-) This is a project that needs to be done here, pronto. It would be nice at the ice cream shop in Asheville also, with a mailbox for notes to the fairies. Thanks so much for the inspiration, I would have loved to join you for the trek.

  20. Monica, thanks for sharing all of these fairy doors, (and the larger ones too!). I enjoyed your tour very much! The ones that are built into the real doors are 'way cool' (to quote Tina!). I'd love a little one to place somewhere in my garden. I love the idea of putting one on a tree (as I noticed Lona mentioned in her comment). I know you just cannot wait until the warmer weather arrives for you! It will, and soon you'll be out digging and planting and pulling weeds...until then, Happy Easter, and may you have a wonderful Spring, dear Monica;-)

  21. As a professional in the field, I'd like to offer a few corrections and observations.

    First off, the businesses in Ann Arbor are not , for the most part, building these doors. A true urban fairy fairy door just appears.

    Also, the Ark does not make the tickets in the fairy ticket window. Generally, they are available at any time... unless jammed up, or briefly "sold out" (though always free).

    There are some "fairy doors" which are definitely NOT (fairy doors). Of course a miniature door CAN be made and installed by people hoping to entice a fairy. Sadly, there is at least one company which is ONLY making resin doors to capitalize on this phenomenon. Such doors are manufactured with no imagination or creativity and it is my thought that would be repugnant to any sort of mythological being.


    There's more info here:

  22. I've never heard of fairy doors before, pretty unique I think.

  23. I've never heard of fairy doors before! Pretty neat. I'm with Gail, I love college towns too.

  24. Michelle,
    Yes, that's Ann arbor for you! (P.S. Our tax bill reflects fun and creative! ;-)

    I also liked the red door one, especially as it's the only one that had any kind of garden elements, which are important to fairies (and faeries, for that matter!).

    I'm thinking of adding one myself...

    I did not find out why. Being a bit skeptical, I think it's a quaint and humble way to encourage store traffic and/or Ann Arbor goodwill, both of which are valid endeavors, imho. A local fairy expert seems to think the doors "just appear," which I do not doubt, but that doesn't explain the why does it? P.S. It just goes to show how we don't notice things straight off... but a clown is scary. That I would have noticed!

    Who knew indeed! I just think there need to be more garden elements...

    I'm not a sports fan overall and decidedly not a UM football fan (way too much pressure both as a UM employee and local resident). In the 26 years I've lived in the area, I've been to exactly one (1) UM football game and exactly one (1) Eastern Michigan University (my own alma mater down the street) football game. Did you go to UM or are they a rival of your school?!

    Hi Sabine,
    Even though I live here, it took me a long time to catch one. I guess fairy doors are mystical and mysterious!

    Word! Way cool!

    I do like college towns, but like any town, Ann Arbor has its issues.

    Tuebingen ist uebrigens eine Schwester Stadt von Ann Arbor. Falls Du mal im Sueden resit, sage mal zu Tuebingen hallo! :)

  25. Anna,
    Yes, the doors are very intriguing! And the one in the library explains how fairies get into books--they enter through the bookshelf door!

    Fairies are intriguing to kids of all ages! :)

    Yes, I'm contemplating designing a fairy door as well. It helps that I don't have any artistic or handiwork skills! (Um, not to create the door, but to have an excuse not to!)

    Hocking Hills,
    I personally think a fairy door is more appropriate on a tree, but no one asked me! ;-)

    I do not know who came up with the idea. As you can see by the comment from jbw, a local fairy enthusiast and to whose page I linked, the secrecy is charmingly protected!

    The snow has melted now, but it was an adventure!

    I'm going to need a LOT more walking to get in shape. Sigh.

    Ann Arbor is not as hippie as it was in the 60s. It's liberal and has a social conscience, but there's also a lot of affluence (both from high-end professors and doctors, plus a lot of the students who come from out of state). Maybe the fairies eat Pixie Stix! I know I do, and I am a faerie.

    I think it's pretty unique about Ann Arbor, and I do think it's cool! Thanks for stopping by! Come again!

    I've mentioned the fairy doors but I don't think I posted about them--though it is possible I left a link in a comment. Sometimes the brain is a little scattered. Asheville sounds like the perfect place for a fairy door or two.

    I agree a tree or a garden is the perfect place for a fairy door. My mom used to have a little miniature garden for fairies, which, if you knew her, would be quite out of character! ;-)

    Being a faerie myself, I can say that some kind of garden element is critical to entice fairies through the door, regardless of how or of what that door is made. (And we can choose to differ on that count.) Chocolate helps, too, but that may only be a personal affection.

    I wonder if in fact other cities have this kind of thing!

    Sweet Bay,
    College towns definitely have a unique energy!

    Happy Easter, ya'll! ~Monica

  26. I loved all of wonderfully creative and imaginative. I cannot imagine living someplace where the folks wouldn't think you'd lost your marbles if you created a fairy door..LOL And since I'm accustomed to being a square peg in a round hole and folks around here a pretty certain I never had any marbles to begin with...I believe I'm going to create my own fairy door...LOL Thanks for the inpiration!

  27. How clever, Monica! I had no idea there were so many fairy doors around; I will have to start looking for these. And if I don't see many around, I'll just have to mention to some of the powers that be in Champaign that Ann Arbor has them--Illini don't like to be upstaged by another Big Ten town:)

    Enjoyed your previous post with all the snow--beautiful pictures, but I don't care to see any more snow here. I guess we had a little snow on Monday, but I was still in Arizona at the time where it was 90 degrees!

    Wishing you a happy Easter!

  28. What a fun day and gift to live in Ann Arbor ... love it! Happy (no snow) Easter, Monica!

  29. Fairies need doors? I thought they were capable of sliding under them. I think my cats are helping them out by shredding the weatherstripping. Love the tour, Monica.

  30. Love all your little fairies....


  31. I feel pretty certain that fairies do not "need" doors.

    I also have a hunch that some sort of fairy "door" first appeared in trees, rocks, the earth.

    The urban fairies are unique in that they are a bit less "skittish" (though largely unseen). Like any fairy, the DO seem to be inquisitive. This bunch show signs of mimicking some human conventions of architectural elements... including hinged and knobbed doors. Sometimes you might even note staircases which would be unnecessary for a winged creature. Perhaps they have non-winged guests at times?

  32. What an incredible idea ~ I love the different fairy doors. They are delightful to see.

  33. How rare to find a city with a sense of fun. In my area we are not likely to see anything whimsical. I think the tiny doors help bring a sense of magic to the ordinary world.

    In Belvidere which isn't too far east of here, all the downtown buildings have murals. Rockford runs more to graffiti. Winnebago just has a bunch of empty buildings.

  34. These are wonderful - do you think that if I wish hard enough a fairy might just hear me and pop through a door here to say hello! I need a fairy door!!!:)

  35. Hello, Monica! Greetings from up the road in Lansing!

    This is my first visit to your blog and I'm so delighted to find a kindred spirit close at hand!

    Well, for all I've been in AA, I confess I never knew about this. How many times have I been to the Ark? These are fabulous!

    I'll be back, and do stop by!

  36. It was a very cheerful clown, Monica, not a scary one. It was juggling coloured balls.


  37. Monica, I'm sorry I haven't been here until now!! After leaving your comment on my first post of the little door in my garden, I followed your link to see about the doors in Ann Arbor myself. Someone is having a LOT of Fun over there! Finer craftsmanship than my little door, but it's okay. Someone industrous has moved in. ;-)