Provo couple uses pieces of outdoors to build ‘fairy houses’
PROVO — If you ask Mike and Debbie Schramer, stories are the best way of understanding ourselves.
“Sometimes you want things around you that make you feel like they’re lending you their story a little bit,” Mike said. “I’m just real comfortable with fantasy, and being a different person, or being in a different time period.”
The couple’s shop is called “Fairy House Vintage Antiques & Art,” but calling it an “antique shop” isn’t entirely accurate — they have more than their share of artistic talent, and they specialize in refurbishing old artifacts and adding their own unique spin.
“This one table here was a 1929 Mother Goose book that was in bad shape,” Mike said, gesturing to a small desk with colorful illustrations on its surface. “But we saved enough pictures off of it to make a nice table.”
“We can find something that’s broken, and we can refurbish it, bringing life back into things,” said Debbie.
They were married in 1975 and readily admit to being self-described “reformed hippies.”
“We went through that,” said Debbie.
“Yeah, we were coming out of it,” Mike said with a laugh. “We didn’t find what we wanted in that. We got out of that.”
One thing that’s remained constant has been their shared love of art and antiques — and stepping out of their store’s main room makes the “art” part of their lives even more evident. Instead of an antique shop, it seems more like a prop house for a fantasy film.
Mike and Debbie call them “fairy houses.” They rescue natural materials from the outdoors to imagine what the home of a fairy might look like.
“Instead of paint and paper, we started using nature itself,” Mike said.
“There’s so much artistic beauty in nature,” said Debbie. “In a flower, or a leaf, or a branch. We like to bring that out so that people will be inspired to go out and walk in the woods or do gardening.”
With roofs made of moss, stairs made of driftwood or tiny chairs constructed out of seashells, every part of these miniature homes is natural. The art may seem a bit unconventional, but Mike says that’s the whole point.
“To help people see,” he said. “And they always see how beautiful it is when they take a walk, and they always feel refreshed when they come back, but we were giving them a way to see it more intricately, and you can read a fairy tale book, but when you see something like this, you feel like it’s really here.”
“Everyone grew up with fairy tales,” Debbie said. “They like to imagine themselves in the houses. That’s kind of a fun thing to do, to take your mind off of the world and all the things that go on, to try to just imagine yourself in a really happy, beautiful world.”
Fairy houses are a bit of a trend right now, but Mike and Debbie may have been the first to fabricate these fantasies.
“As far as I know, I mean we didn’t know anybody that was making things like this at that time, in 1987,” Debbie said.
And so, these pixie pioneers are helping to spread their fascination with fables — they’ve published two books, entitled “Fairy House” and “Fairy Village,” and have a third on the way.
“Through writing the first book, we found that yeah, we do have some things that people wanted to hear,” Mike said.
They hope to encourage others to follow in their fairy’s footsteps and help them construct their own magical mansions. Their shop is available for photo shoots, and they’re also planning on teaching classes on how to build tiny homes like theirs.
“We’ve had a lot of customers that said, ‘I used to do this as a kid,'” Mike said. “It’s not that foreign to them. People know how to dream.”
So while Mike and Debbie may have left the hippie lifestyle back in the ’70s, a part of it still lives on in a small room in an antique shop in Provo.
“We’ve at least held on to the love, yeah,” Mike said. “And trying to create a beautiful world.”
Mike and Debbie Schramer’s shop is located at 36 E 400 N in Provo.
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