Into the Goblin Mine!

Going down where the Goblins Go – BELOW!

This was a project I’d been wanting to ‘dig’ into for a SO very long!

For years now I’ve been seeing more and more Fairy Doors for sale, both online and at craft or renaissance festivals.  These miniature doors, usually brightly colored with rounded tops, are typically intended for placement at the base of a tree outdoors, the idea being to add a little whimsy to your landscaping.  

It’s an idea that I love.  Such a simple way to add a tiny bit of storytelling to yard or garden – implying the magical presence of a “secret commonwealth” hiding below our normal line of sight.  Unlike most yard art (think big plastic flamingos) fairy doors do not usually call attention to themselves.  They are truly a gift to the observant among us!

As they’ve become so popular, there is now a huge variety available in both quality and style, with much mass production, resin casting, etc…, and a lot of different designs and colors to choose from.

But I have seldom seen any Fairy Doors designed to speak to the, shall we say, “darker side” of Faerie lore.

Faeries are, at their very best, temperamental and prone to easy insult.  Imagine then, that we have all these people literally laying out the welcome mat for all the ‘good people’, with nary a thought toward the less friendly sort!  A million little yellow doors designed for friendly sprites and brownies, but nothing for the faeries of the Unseelie Court, the ones who already have a bone to pick.

A recipe for disaster, to be sure!

Did no one ever actually pay attention to ‘Sleeping Beauty’?!  Snub a dark fairy and be prepared to reap some serious consequences!

So even before I started woodworking professionally,  I’d been wanting to build a series of Fairy Doors that leaned toward the darker side of the Hidden World.  And now here we are, with the release of the first of what I am calling the Unseelie Portals.


Enter the Goblin Mine.

I chose The Goblin Mine to start off with because I wanted to do something unexpected, something very different than the standard fairy door.  No graceful curves or dainty frills here, I wanted sharp angles and worn edges.  I poured over photographs of actual old-fashioned mine entrances, and settled on a classic post and lintel doorway that would be familiar to anyone who’s seen a gold mine from an old western, but which also faintly recalled the entrances to the many megalithic tombs that I’ve visited on my travels to Ireland.

With a design now firmly in mind, the goal was to execute something that looked like it was huge, but on a tiny scale.  The surface carving and color treatment of the “timbers” had to give a feeling of genuine weight to the whole affair.

When it came time to execute the metal work for the hinges, rather than trying to carve something that small out of wood, I chose instead to work in Polymer Clay.  Applying all my experience in Ceramic Sculpture gave me a bit more freedom to produce something that really looked like the sort of hammered metal hinges which I think goblins would be inclined to use on their doors.

Along the way, it occurred to me that adding a scale model of an old Mine Cart, filled with ore, would complete the look perfectly.  And so began another round of experiments until I got the look (heavy and worn) of the tiny carts exactly right.  

There really has been a lot of trial and error along the way with this project, but in the end, I am overjoyed with the results!  Each Mine Entrance & Cart pairing is unique in their individual details, but still very much of a kind.  They look great as an almost hidden splash of color and detail in the underbrush of a garden setting, but will also make a fantastic conversation piece if displayed on a book shelf, or against a wall in an indoor setting.   They look, to my eye, like something goblins could actually live in, and come pouring out of, just as soon as the sun sets.

And I’m sure your local goblins will love them!

The Goblin Mine is available for sale, along with my other creations, at the Inner Orchard Workshop on Etsy.  Come on in and have a look around!

Unseelie Portals logo, featuring a green fairy with unruly hair and purple wings overlooking the Words Unseelie Portals.

Visiting the Creevykeel Court Tomb in Co. Sligo, Ireland in 2010. One of many sites which inspired the design of the Goblin Mine.
With the carving complete, I begin to apply the first coats of paint.

The goblin mine rests against the cut edge of an old tree stump which is jutting from the leaf covered ground, turning what might otherwise be considered an eyesore into a place of magic.A Goblin Mine can add a dash of surprise and mystery to an otherwise unremarkable feature of yard or garden.

This image shows the goblin mine lit by moonlight. The mine entrance rests against a tree stump and is surrounded by shadowy underbrush and presents a mysterious scene.
By the light of the moon, just moments before the goblins emerge to continue their work.