Artist brings fairy creation to kids
NEWBURYPORT CURRENT - AMESBURY NEWS
By Carol Feingold, Correspondent
“Who knows where our imaginations may lead us?” asked Elizabeth Golz Rush. “Mine has taken flight to fairyland.”
With her guidance, youngsters will take wing and create their own fairies at February Vacation Flower Fairies, a three-day class sponsored by Newburyport Youth Services at the Kelley School Youth Center on High Street.
“Students make all aspects of a fairy from start to finish,” Rush said. “We give wings to our imaginations.”
A professional artist and designer, Rush also has extensive experience teaching children’s art. When she lived in Amesbury in the 1980s and 1990s, she taught a wide variety of art classes, including puppet-making and animation. Then she moved to her native California for several years where she worked full-time as an in-house artist and art director. Three years ago she and her husband Richard Rush moved to Newburyport.
“This offered me a chance to get back into teaching,” she said, “and be part of the community. This is a nice way to get to know a lot of people and give a little to the community, too.
“Last summer I gave children's art classes. Closest to my heart were the fairy classes where groups of little ladies crafted fairies using wooden beads for heads, chenille stems for arms and legs, and felt and silk flower petals for dresses. And what fashionable fairies they were, too.”
Since then she has been working on fairy prototypes and developing workshops.
“I wanted to develop a fairy that children could put together,” she said. “I feel very strongly that kids benefit from using their hands. It’s an educational experience but it’s also celebrating their imaginations. They make their own fairies entirely themselves.”
Over the past year, Rush has refined the process, adjusting it to meet the skills of the youngsters. The fairy is made up of a felt bodice that the child cuts out from a pattern. The head is a wooden bead. The child paints the face on the bead and attaches a little wig made of fluffy yarn. The body of the fairy is made of chenille stems (formerly known as pipe cleaners), and the skirt is made of silk flower petals. Glittery iridescent wings made of net complete the fairy ensemble.
“Part of the challenge for me has been the design,” she said, “to see what techniques work and don’t work for kids, what parts they can do on their own and when they need adult help.”
For example, the fairies are not sewn, so they can be put together by little hands and Rush adheres the felt for the fairy bodice to a pattern to make it easier to cut with child-safe scissors. Much of the gluing is done with child-safe glue by the children, but there are things Rush must glue herself.
“They choose the colors of hair, bodice and petals,” Rush said. “They paint the faces. Then they can add jewels and make hats if they want. They are creating their own fairies within the format that I designed. They have a finished product they can show off and be proud of. They have a real sense of accomplishment.”
Rush has fun herself shopping for fairy materials in crafts and fabric stores.
“I wander down the aisles and get swept up in all the glitter and the jewels and the fairy dust,” she said. “The glitter and jewels are certainly adding lots of sparkle to my studio.”
In January, Rush held a Fairy Workshop at the Merrimac Public Library, and has another scheduled for the Wenham Museum, in Wenham on Sunday, March 20. She also has given demonstrations at the Topsfield Fair, and just recently at Newburyport’s Winter Carnival.
“The children come because they are excited about fairies,” she said. “That’s what draws them in. Fairies are a flight of imagination, and I think developing your imagination is an important thinking tool. That’s the serious side under the fun of fairies. Developing your imagination helps to solve problems and deal with life’s challenges. They also develop their fine motor skills and learn to work on a sustained project.
“Going through a step-by-step process can be challenging, as there are often new skills to be learned, but it's also very rewarding and a good learning experience. And, as you can see, there is no holding back on creativity. I’ve gotten totally hooked. Add a twinkle to your day and come make a fairy.”