18630 Loyalist Parkway
Site 5, Box 4 Hillier,
ON, Canada K0K 2J0
About the ArtistsTeresa Fischer & Terry Wolfert
of Parx Productions
Teresa Fischer and Terry Wolfert are not just business partners but also life partners. They started Fables, Fantasy & Fairy Tales in November 1991 out of a desire to create original hand crafted items that took the viewer away to another world and relieved the stress of day to day life in the middle of a recession. Through customer feedback and their own personal fascination with fairies, their business evolved to producing original hand crafted fairies from porcelain. Today Teresa and Terry sell their unique creations at craft shows and through galleries across North America. Their fairies have flown all over the world and can be found in collections in Australia, Japan, Argentina, England, France, Holland and beyond.
Of Fables, Fantasy & Fairy Tales
Story by Steve Campbell, County Magazine
Photographs by Graham Davies
They were self-employed for about seven years, living in a two-bedroom condo in Richmond Hill and working in Employment Services.
During the recession of the 1990's, they began to re-evaluate the stress and time-consumption of their job, along with the cost of living in the Greater Toronto Area.
They started thinking about a new home and a new field of work.
Teresa had been making porcelain dolls as a hobby and their attention started to turn in that direction.
"It's expensive as a hobby," Teresa said, but it gave her an outlet for her creative instincts, and she found it relaxing.
"We were looking for ways to make money," she said, "so we took booths at some craft shows."
Somewhere along the line, tiny porcelain fairies were introduced to complement the collectable dolls.
"I grew up on stories of fairies," Teresa said. And she found she was not alone.
"One of the best things that sold was the fairy," she said. "People started to come back and ask for more."
The phenomenon grew, and Terry and Teresa saw a new opportunity: to manufacture finely-detailed fairies to meet the apparent demand.
"They're like mini-sculptures," Teresa said. They appeal to people's sense of whimsy and, as tiny pieces of art, they are welcomed into many homes.
"It's amazing how they were received," Terry said. "At any given show you'll meet somebody who has a fairy living with them, or have actually seen fairies."
"Fairies are a part of the lore in any culture," Teresa said. "It appeals to everyone who has a feel for the whimsical, all the way through to New Age people, who are real believers."
She says that creating and casting porcelain fairies is a great "stress reliever" and her customers find the highly detailed statuettes have the same effect in their homes.
"This is a real change from fast, fast, fast, work, work, work," she said.
"Now we're working in the fanciful and Other Worldly."
After the fairies were introduced to her craft booths, the demand kept on growing.
"Most of the business was word-of-mouth," she said. And they had regular customers as well. "There's lots of collectors out there ... one woman has 80 fairies in her home."
The decision to move from Richmond Hill to the country was part of their plan, and it seemed appropriate that they should choose a home in a converted church in Hillier.
"It definitely fits," Teresa said. "We were looking for a place with character, out of the city, with a different lifestyle.
Having jumped into a new career, Teresa and Terry began to explore the new territory.
They learned about all kinds of fairy lore from a number of different countries and cultures, and tried to create a unique environment for each of their creations.
This required keeping an eye out for anything produced by Mother Nature that could be used in their creations, such as rocks, vines, leaves, moss and grass.
"That's why Terry has to climb trees looking for twigs and different kinds of fungus," Teresa said.
They use a lot of imagination in their work and, when they need new ideas, they know where to turn.
"There's lots of books on the topic," she said. "Whenever we run short of ideas, we just go to the New Age section of a bookstore."
But they don't have too much trouble meeting new challenges.
"We've done fairies inside bubbles, a tipsy fairy passed out in a martini glass," and fairies standing, sitting and flying.
"There are two fairies that are unique to the County," Terry said. "The wind fairy and the Mermaid were both influenced by the wind and the water here."
The couple also creates custom figurines of all kinds, and many of these are one-of-a-kind.
"We do custom wedding cake tops in the likeness of the bride and groom," Teresa said. "We've also produced a special fairy for a woman who wanted to put it on top of her husband's urn."
"We've done birthday fairies, bridal bouquets and, of course, a tooth fairy," which is poised to drop a quarter into a pewter chest.
Creating fairies is not an easy job ... it takes dozens of steps to get to a perfect final piece.
"We work in cernit," Teresa said, which is an oven-baked polymer clay. It can be baked, then built up in stages to reach the final form.
Several steps of molds and recastings result in a final piece, and then a plaster mold is made. "It has to be plaster, so it will absorb water from the porcelain," Teresa said. We also use molds from some of the world's finest doll makers.
"The electric kiln is Terry's department," she said. "It's more planned and scheduled ... pouring and cleaning and getting them out of the molds ... everything has to be exact."
"We break a lot," Terry said, "especially the little hands in the early stages. After it's fired, it's okay."
And now for the key question: Do they believe in fairies?
"I believe in fairy magic," Teresa said. "The first time I had a fairy stolen from my booth at a show ... it was devastating," she said. "But then I figured: that fairy won't do them any good!"
Their primary market is still craft shows in Canada and the United States - Dallas, Michigan and Pennsylvania - and "a lot of mail order."
From their Hillier home, they can reach the world, and yet still enjoy the private country life.
Terry and Teresa are known as PARX Productions which, according to Terry, stands for Performance, Attitude, Results, and Excellence.
And, if all of these elements fail ... they can always seek help from the Other Side!