by Ardeana Hamlin
of The Weekly Staff
OTIS, Maine — It all began with a movie.
The winter before last, Resa Beal and her husband Jonathan Barneschi of Otis were watching a movie that featured magical and mythical creatures in mystical landscapes. Jonathan asked Resa if she would build him a fairy house like one they saw in the film. Resa thought about his request for a year or so and in March after the snow had gone, she roamed around on their property and began collecting materials for the fairy house.
But something else happened in the process. The idea for the fairy house expanded over the weeks she worked in it into the miniature village of Otishia populated by more than 40 creatures.
Jonathan, who has spent much of his life in the building and carpentry trades, and who also builds rustic shelves and picture frames from recycled wood and found materials, built a base on which the village grew.
Armed with materials from nature found around her home, and a glue gun, Resa began building each component. She used moss, lichen, seashells, pine cones and pieces thereof, pussywillows, beechnuts and their spiny husks, dried leaves, twigs, mushrooms, stones and flower petals and leaves to fashion her vision of Otishia. It took her five weeks.
“Everywhere I looked,” Resa said of her outings to collect materials, “I saw elephant legs and crocodiles. At least, that’s what it looked like to me.” She also saw ways to assemble the materials in such a way that they became a miniature turkey in a swing, a mouse, snake, lion, goats, a bunny, snail, moose, porcupine, frog, fly, bear, turtle, deer, dragonfly and fish. Not all the creatures are of the same scale — the turtle is larger than the goats, for example — but that only adds to the charm of the village.
After the village was finished, Resa branched out to making freestanding pieces, such as a mermaid on a rock, a miniscule puffin and other fanciful scenes. And in the process she created her own business, StudioB Infinity.
It was from the experience of creating Otishia that Resa realized she has an artistic side.
“But I think I come by it rightly,” she said. “My mother did cake decorating and she used to make amazing things out of frosting.”
Resa grew up in Millbridge with three sisters, the daughter of a lobsterman. She spent her childhood doing what most Down East Maine youngsters do — she attended school and in the summer months picked blueberries and went out on the lobster boat with her father to help him. Her job, she said, one she chose for herself, was baiting traps. And never once, even in the heaviest of seas, was she seasick, she said with pride. Being on the ocean and living in an area of scenic beauty fed her love of nature.
As an adult she spent many years as an office manager. Now she cooks at a local store in Otis.
But every day for a few hours, she goes to the space in her home that serves as her studio and works at crafting new pieces. One of her works in progress is an owl in a tree.
She stores materials for her creations in boxes — flats — she brings home from the store where she works, and repurposes them. Storing the materials that way, she said, airs them out and allows them to dry before use.
“I love the detail part of it,” Resa said of her craft. “It’s very relaxing. It’s a whole other world.”
Some of Resa Beal’s creations are on display through December at the Ellsworth Chamber Commerce.
For information about Resa’s work or custom pieces fashioned by her or Jonathan, email email@example.com or call 207-460-1088. Photographs of her work also are posted on the Studio B Infinity Facebook page.