Saturday 4 March 2017


Do you believe in magic? Reader Jay explains how it shaped her childhood, her teen years and even her career...

Jay says:
My parents are toy collectors so I grew up in a house filled with curious objects; cabinets filled with tins robots and plastic transformers, vintage Barbie dolls and ball jointed figures. Weekends were for car boot sales, toy fairs and charity shops. We're not hoarders, just selective treasure-seekers. We rummage and find things to either sell on or to keep for ourselves. I'm a Jay bird, a member of the crow family, born to scavenge and fill my nest with shiny things. We're magpies by nature.

Jacqueline Wilson's book MIDNIGHT told the story of a girl so enchanted by fairies that she surrounded herself with illustrated fairies suspended on strings from her bedroom ceiling. As an avid reader, daydreamer and fairy-obsessed kid, I plastered my room with fairies too. I still have a bog book of Cecily Mary Barker's flower fairies that I would sit and draw my own versions of. My nana encouraged my interest in fairies and folklore, telling me stories and asking for drawings. I'd also cast spells on her so she could win at bingo on a Sunday night - much to our dismay, it never seemed to work! I made fairy rings with flowers in my gran's back garden and I imagined that my wardrobe was a portal to another realm. I was a very strange child and that hasn't changed, but it has fed into the work I make today!

The collector and the fairy queen in me have now merged and formed an alliance. I am still hunting and gathering materials as I always did, but now I am using my treasures to fabricate my own fairyland. I am currently studying for a degree in illustration at Leeds College of Art, but my practice is all about making. My passion for tactility and physical performance has pushed me to bring my illustrated characters to life in three dimensions. I use wire armatures, polystyrene and papier mache to construct the bodies of my dolls and I clothe them in garments made from old material and jewellery. After sharing my dolls online, I was asked if they were for sale... people actually wanted to buy my silly little pixies!

I now sell my 'pixie dolls' on Etsy and through a shop I work at in North Yorkshire. I love to see little fairy children get excited about seeing my dolls or perhaps receiving one that's been custom made to look just like them. All those years I spent chasing magical creatures, and now I can make them real with my own hands.

You can follow my pixies on
Instagram: @jaystellingdesign
or email at

Cathy says:
I love, love, LOVE these pixie dolls - and Jay's story is inspiring! It makes me want to mix up the paste and get playing with papier mache again... wow! Have YOU got a passion for something that you hope may one day become a career? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!


  1. Haha, wow I love this so much Jay! All these crazy details about our house and family seem so normal to me though and I forget that other people don't spend their time treasure hunting (either at a jumble sale or at the beach!).I also agree about the being selective part and that treasures should be precious and cherished- not hoarded!

    We were great kids though- honestly! I think that all our made up stories and imaginary games have also influenced my adoration for writing :)

  2. Your pixies look so amazing, I want some now!!!
    Well done & good luck.



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