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Where Friendship Meets Inspiration: A Talk with Artist Mary Sallee Stams

Posted by Ronna Moore on 8th Aug 2018

There are few artists whose work not only inspires, but transports audiences to another world. By looking at it, you’re not only engulfed in what the artist wants you to see, but you’re suddenly in a space where your own dreams are being pushed to the forefront. Perhaps a piece of art reminds you of your childhood, or a friend you had long ago. Either way, art touches all of us, and the inherent artistry found in fairy garden houses and decorations is no exception.

mary sallee stams artist

I am proud to feature talented artist and my friend Mary Sallee Stams and her artwork at Fairy Homes and Gardens. I recently sat down with Mary to talk about her inspiration, her love for her work, and how she sees her art developing in the future. Join me as we take a closer look at the woman behind the designs.

Presenting Mary Sallee Stams

Ronna: Hi Mary. Thanks for chatting with me today.

Mary: Not a problem.

R: Let’s talk about fairy gardening first. The world of fairy gardening is so niche, but so vibrant and expressive. How did you find yourself a part of this world?

M: It was a progression for me. I always dabbled in art, doing bulletin boards and displays for my children’s school and doing the nativity scene for my church and the like. I was about 48 before I took my creativity to the next level and began building bird houses, replicating houses and historical buildings in St. Joseph. I built thousands of customized bird houses, even selling to Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Mo. until someone took my ideas and undercut me. After that, I just moved on to my next idea. I took a pottery class at a local college, mainly to learn about the kiln, firing, and glazes. It must have been around the same time that I met [Ronna] because I was asked to sell my toad houses and wren houses at the nursery.

R: Yes, I remember that. They’ve been such a great addition to our inventory. I want to pivot a little and talk more about your art pieces. What inspires them?

M: My garden, birds, and nature. I also love to look at children’s books. 

mary sallee stams watercolor

R: You mentioned starting out with your art designing bulletin boards for a school library. However, fairy garden figures are mainly 3D, sculpted pieces. Is there a medium you prefer when it comes to artistic expression?

M: Not particularly. I love sculpture, watercolors, acrylics, painting on fabric, and woodworking. I love to create in many mediums.

R: And what is it about fairy gardening in particular that pulls you in?

M: Well, I think I began to get really into it when you approached me about selling my toad houses as fairy houses in your shop. My appreciation for fairy gardening just built from there.

R: Is there a piece out of your fairy garden collection that you’re most proud of?

M: I do love all my pieces equally, though I do still have the first teapot I ever made. Usually, the sooner I get a piece out of my shop, the sooner I can create another one.

R: Sounds about right. In that case, what is your most important artist tool?

M: Unconventional answer here, but mind, hands, and spirit are my most important tools. If they don’t all work together, I can’t make art.

R: I like that answer. With that said, how do you see your art changing in the future?

M: A lot. I’m very flexible. Every time I create, I get new ideas and develop new techniques, and another idea pops into my head.

mary sallee stams artR: I agree. You always come up with such interesting new ideas. I’m really curious about your creating process. What do you think of while you’re developing new art pieces?

M: I’m lost in another world because I tend to always listen to my radio. When I am in my shop, time passes and I have no idea where the day has gone. Some days, I giggle at all of the creatures I have created sitting on the shelves watching me work.

R: And how do you know when a piece is done? Who usually gets final say?

M: I get final say, but my best critics have always been children. They always say what they mean and if they love it, I know it’s a hit.

R: Thank you so much for talking to me today, Mary.

Find all of Mary’s designs and pieces at Fairy Homes and Gardens today

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