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The Birdhouses of Ansley Cliff

By Joey Lee & Julie Orr

Uploaded Wednesday, May 20, 2020 5:01PM EST

Upon receipt of your birdhouse from “From The Ground Up”, you are immediately transported back in time to a miniature land inhabited by Hobbits and forest creatures. The attention to detail is breathtaking and we honestly expected small puffs of smoke to emerge any moment from the chimney. But the reality is these birdhouses are a product of a very talented artist, owner of “From the Ground Up”, Ansley Cliff who grew up in Anderson and now resides near Columbia, SC. In a phone interview, we asked Ansley how she came to this artistic point in her life:

“For twenty years, I worked at a hectic pace as an IT professional until a diagnosis of Lyme disease in 2015 ended my career. After five years of a very slow, grueling recovery,I found nature offered more to life than a successful IT profession. Last Christmas I received a gift (a rustic, cute wooden birdhouse) which triggered an artistic focus in me which still burns with intensity each day I wake up.”

We were absolutely mesmerized by the exquisite details of the miniaturized elements which adorned the birdhouse and so we asked Ansley to tell us a little about collecting these gems:

“I have an advantage: The woods are out my back door where the forest offers treasures of different sizes, shapes and colors. I am fascinated with moss and the array of varieties. Bark has become one of the most beautiful things in a forest to me--the way it grows, the colors, shapes, the crevices and textures I love. I believe nature is God's playground and I find it a place of healing.”

Our conversation then turned toward the subject of Ansley’s recovery from Lyme disease and the symbiotic relationship with her art:

“As part of my recovery, I exercise by taking long strolls through the woods. My husband was encouraged to see me emerging into life; he made house frames and convinced me to continue making these houses. As my ‘Fairy houses’ evolve with each house, new ideas form and off into the woods I go: for the right chimney, moss, curly vines, acorns, lichens ... it’s all at my back door. And with each house I continue to heal–through the meditation I find walking the woods and the art therapy from making a house. I now to listen to the sounds of the woods--these are the sounds thatclear mymind and breathes life back into me. Each house has a multitude of blessings; and foreach I am thankful.”

Ansley’s health has improved remarkably and for that we are grateful. And her recovery has been enhanced by her Fairy House projects for which we are equally grateful. When asked what her advice would be to a prospective buyer of one of these precious works of art, Ansley said: “You may find a cocoon on your house and if so, take a walk in the woods----and listen!”


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