The glitter fairy
Laurie Davis and her ornaments shine
Spend any time with Laurie Davis and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll emerge with a newfound sparkle.
That added glow is due to a few things – her infectiously upbeat personality, her seemingly endless creativity and a very literal sprinkling of glitter.
Call it an occupational hazard. You really can’t visit GlitterWorks Studio, the thriving business based in Davis’ Wilton home, and leave without a hint of that extra glimmer on you.
“You’re wearing black…” she says with a knowing laugh as WAG checks in with her on a recent morning.
Perhaps not the wisest choice when you are going to see “The Glitter Fairy.” But it makes for the first of several lighthearted moments during a visit that explores the meticulous process behind the “gloriously glittered ornaments and whimsies.” The unique quality of her work has earned her showcases in a selection of local boutiques and even several television appearances with Martha Stewart.
This season is her busiest, with holiday-ornament production taking up most every moment, though the company is indeed a year-round affair.
Many ornaments are designed to grace a Christmas tree, though they might just as easily hang from a sconce during warmer months. A glittering sea star might hang from a window, while a sparkling watering can or wheelbarrow can accent a floral design. A sparkled artichoke easily turns from a place-card holder to a gift for a dinner-party guest.
In addition to her signature ornaments, Davis draws on her graphic-design background to create limited-edition GlitterWorks Studio greeting cards that carry not only a hint of glitter but often also clever wordplays and vintage images.
“This is my old kitchen from before we renovated our house,” Davis says, as she walks a visitor through the home she shares with architect-husband Winslow Kosior and into the studio itself. “We have turned it into a winter wonderland.”
For those who like nothing more than a bit of sparkle, it is indeed quite the wonderland. Jars are filled with glitters that carry fanciful names ranging from pink Champagne to tropical rain, baby’s breath to abalone. There are dozens of rolls of double-faced satin ribbons from the noted San Francisco company Midori – it imparts “a quality feel,” Davis says – while boxes labeled with everything from chicks to “duckies,” dragonflies to hummingbirds create tall stacks.
There is a common thread in the varied elements.
“Our whole thing is to make things that are beautiful,” Davis says. “People are overwhelmed with junky stuff at big-box stores.”
Here, everything is done by hand, with attention to detail.
“I have decided not to outsource and go to China and all that,” she says. “Everything we do has to be as perfect as we can make it.”
All the products share a certain aesthetic, says Pam Lillis, Davis’ colleague, who’s known as “Assistant Glitter Fairy.”
“The problem is everything Laurie makes is absolutely beautiful,” she says, adding she tries to resist but has filled her own nearby home with GlitterWorks Studio creations. “I love the product.”
The glitter business began in 1999. When Davis – who earned a fine art degree from Syracuse University and taught art – became a mother, she wanted to work closer to home.
Making children’s clothing eventually morphed into this new creative endeavor, which quickly found her creating glittered faux fruit first as teacher gifts and then as items for sale at schools and shops.
“It started out very traditionally with the natural colors, the greens and the reds and the golds,” she says, noting the business has steadily grown – and creatively expanded – over the years.
Today, Davis thinks nothing of accenting a plum-colored ball with a hot-pink ribbon or tying an orange ball with a stretch of teal.
“People have now become a little more open to different colors,” she says. “I don’t follow trends. I just do what I think is beautiful and what my customers ask me to do.”
It’s that unexpected mix and ability (and willingness) to customize her work that set her apart.
Though she is best-known for her signature golden pear, even that item is up for customization.
“If you want a pewter pear with silver ribbon, we can do that,” she says.
It’s easy, since Davis is drawing from a selection of some 300 shades of non-glass glitter.
Even traditional balls are made unique. They might have elegant lettering that spells out names, words such as “gratitude,” puns or even ZIP codes.
The creations, which retail from $16 to $50, are designed for a discerning customer.
“We’ve always kind of considered them a collectible,” Davis says.
That’s no doubt due to their underlying artistry.
“It’s not just throwing glitter on something,” she says, going on to explain intricacies ranging from opaque versus transparent to large flake versus small.
Carol Muraskiewicz has been carrying the creations of GlitterWorks Studio for years at Palooza, her Fairfield gift, framing and décor boutique.
“I saw some of her things and said, ‘I love them,’ and have been keeping in touch with her ever since,” she says.
Mainstays at Palooza include glittered letters, with a selection of beach-themed clear balls (filled with sand and other seashore finds and emblazoned with the names of local beaches) just in for holiday shopping.
“It’s all hand-done, and it’s done to perfection,” she says.
Davis is always thinking ahead, finding new outlets for her creativity, from a new design to a new venture. A book is in the planning stages, as is an expansion of the greeting-card line.
Davis says her company draws on her personal history.
Growing up first on a farm in Pennsylvania then in upstate New York, she remembers an excitement always associated with Christmas, especially the tree itself.
“Our parents made it very special,” she says.
The tree would be decorated, with the young Davis brought in for the big reveal.
“To me, it was this magical moment… I think that planted the seed, that feeling of wonder when those French doors opened.”
It’s that same spirit that she hopes her own ornaments evoke.
But there’s no time to dwell on sentiment on a busy morning at GlitterWorks Studio.
As the disco music is cranked up to add a bit of exuberance during a photo shoot, Davis takes a moment to glance at her surroundings.
“Glitter lends a sheen to other things you cannot achieve any other way, including floors,” she says.
But you know that for Davis, any glitter, no matter where it falls, is just part of the magic.
For more on Laurie Davis and her creations, including a list of local boutiques and her own online shop, visit glitterworksstudio.com.