Make a Gnome – Part 2

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In my last video I showed you how I made the foil armature for my DIY gnome. If you haven’t seen that video yet, or if you’d like to download the free pattern, click here.

Now the gnome is finished. I used the same products that I used previously for my experimental pumpkin. (And he’s still doing really well outside. So far, so good…)

If you want to make a house gnome, instead, you can use paper strips and paste or paper mache clay.

Some of the posts that were mentioned in this video:

(If I forgot anything, be sure to let me know.

In a nutshell –

How to finish the DIY Gnome:

Covering the gnome's armature with masking tape.

Step 1:

Cover the gnome’s foil armature with masking tape. I used Frog Tape because it sticks better than the regular white kind. And green is nice…

Options: You don’t need the masking tape if you’re making a house gnome out of paper mache clay. You will want masking tape if you’re using paper strips and paste, because it won’t stick to foil.

Covering the gnome with plaster cloth.

Step 2:

Cover the masking tape with plaster cloth.

Options: You don’t need plaster cloth under any kind of paper mache, but occasionally use it under paper strips and paste because the project is finished so much faster.

Covering the gnome with Mapai Ultracolor grout.

Step 3:

Use a foam brush to add a thin coat of the grout. I used about one part water to three parts of the powder. You won’t need very much – but don’t mix up any more than you think you can use within half an hour. It does set up fairly quickly.

To make the grout smooth, get your gloves slightly damp and rub your hands lightly over the grout.

Set the gnome aside for a few hours to get hard.

Adding a second coat of grout to the gnome.

Step 4:

Add a second coat of grout. I used more water this time to make it thinner so it would go on faster. I used the foam brush for everything except the beard and mustache. For the hairy parts I used a chip brush.

Sculpting the gnome's face with Magic Sculpt

Step 5:

Sculpt the face with epoxy clay. I used Magic Sculpt this time because it’s slightly less expensive than the Apoxie Sculpt that I usually use. I couldn’t see any noticeable difference between the two brands. You’ll need less than a pound of the product for your gnome’s face.

I always buy the larger containers, because it costs half the price per pound – they charge a lot of money for those little plastic tubs. But if you don’t’ think you’ll use the epoxy clay for any other projects, stick with the one-pound set, because it can dry up even with the lid on tight.

Let the epoxy clay cure overnight.

Options: If you’re making a paper mache house gnome, you can use air dry clay to make the features of his face.

Step 6:

Paint your gnome with acrylic paint. The colors I used are:

  • Tunic – ultramarine blue and white
  • Hat – cadmium red medium
  • Mittens – burnt sienna (but any color would work)
  • Boots – burnt sienna and burnt umber
  • Belt – burnt sienna and ultramarine blue
  • Face – Cadmium red medium, yellow ocher and white
  • Eyes – ultramarine blue with black pupils and white reflection spots
  • Beard and mustache – white and yellow ocher

You could also choose pre-mixed colors of craft acrylics at a hobby store. Be sure to give your gnome a final coat or two of exterior varnish. Folk Art brand makes an outdoor matte sealer that would look nice. Or find an exterior clear sealer at your local DIY store.

And remember – if you make a gnome, either for inside or outside, please come back and show him off. We really want to see it. 

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Make a Gnome Part 2

10 thoughts on “Make a Gnome – Part 2”

  1. Hello, Ms. Good. I started making clay figures half a year ago and from the very beginning I wanted to make a garden gnome. I don’t have a lot of experience with sculpting in general, but your tutorial and your videos in general have been utterly helpful for me. Here is my gnome. I made a more cartoon-like face. I loved the result and enjoyed the process. You’re an inspiration for me, Ms. Good. Thank you.

    Greetings from Mexico

    Reply
    • Hi Roberto. We didn’t get to see your gnome, but we would really like to see how it came out. Images need to be less than 250 kb to upload into a comment. I do hope you’ll edit the photo to make it smaller, and try again. If you don’t have image editing software you can use one of the free tools online.

      Reply
  2. Your gnome came out really cute Jonni! I love your experiments! They help us to think outside of the box for ourselves. One question for you…do you think it would be possible to also do the face with an armature covered with the plaster cloth? Didn’t you do that with your Santa face? Or did you just want a smoother look? Is there any chance the apoxy sculpt could shrink off of the sculpture over time and temp changes? Ok, I lied, that was more than one question! This would be a cute project for a paper mache class….thanks for that…always looking for ideas!
    Sorry about your cold weather, it has been cold here in PA but not like you in Minnesota. Winter has arrived. Sigh!

    Reply
    • Hi Eileen. Yes, the face could have been done with the foil first, then plaster cloth – but it’s hard to keep the grout from covering up details. I used plaster cloth to define the tops of his boots, and then lost that line when the grout was added. But I’m sure it could be done if someone had more patience. I wanted to play with the Magic Sculpt again, and it seemed like a good opportunity to do that. Will it be affected by our crazy cold weather? I guess we’ll find out. 🙂

      And it has warmed up a little – the temps will be back to normal tomorrow, at least for a little while. The Farmer’s Almanac says we might have to get used to the cold. Something about sun spots and a mini ice age. I hope they’re wrong…

      Reply
  3. Genious! Santa’s workshop is waiting for you Jonni – these gnomes are so much fun – who doesn’t want one of them? Their faces are so whimsical and easy to accomplish. You know one of my idols loved them too – his name, George Harrison. Love you.

    Reply

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