The fairy-maker: ‘There are fairies in royal circles, Australia, New York – everywhere’

Dinah Nicholson's meticulously-recorded magical creations range from doppelgangers of real women to the whimsical Gin & Tonic fairy and have been created at home, on the move or even in the queue at the bank.

Whenever she has a spare minute, Dinah Nicholson reaches for her snippet bag, which contains all the ingredients she needs to make Christmas-tree fairies: mohair, glass beads, tiny pieces of antique material and ‘anything beautiful,’ she says.

Mrs Nicholson has been making fairies since 2002 and, this year, her 70th, she produced fairy number 4,000, whom she named Octavia after her youngest daughter.

the fairy-maker

Each fairy’s details are recorded in a ledger – noting the date she was made, her name and number – before being sent out into the world. ‘There are fairies in royal circles, Australia, New York – everywhere,’ enthuses Mrs Nicholson.

‘I’ve even gathered a petticoat when standing in a bank queue.’

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She’s a great-niece of the artist William Nicholson, so it seems creativity runs deep through Mrs Nicholson and her family. ‘I often make a fairy before breakfast when listening to the Shipping Forecast, but I also make them on the bus and the beach, as well as while waiting for hair and make-up when I work as an extra,’ she explains. ‘I’ve even gathered a petticoat when standing in a bank queue.’

the fairy-maker

The fairy bodies are fashioned with workaday materials such as Blu Tack and pipe cleaners, but it’s when clothing each character and painting their faces that Mrs Nicholson’s imagination really takes flight. Indeed, no two fairies are the same: there’s a gin-and-tonic fairy, who wears a Schweppes bottle top as a jaunty hat, a seashell fairy with seaweed hair and bridesmaid fairies that are mini-doppelgangers of real bridemaids with matching dresses.

the fairy-maker

‘They always have pants,’ notes Mrs Nicholson. ‘I sell them at charity sales and people always flip them over to check.’

Mrs Nicholson was inspired by her mother, who made dolls for all her children. ‘I have four daughters and none of them have time to make a fairy,’ she muses, ‘but I’m teaching my grandchildren.’

To see more of Dinah’s beautiful fairies, visit