How to Make Clay Gnomes

By Tasos Vossos
The conical hat is a distinctive element of gnomes.

Gnomes are dwarfish creatures -- mostly represented as old bearded men -- found in European folklore. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, medieval mythology regards them as guardians of treasures hidden in the earth. Nowadays, gnomes are primarily used as decoratives for the garden, and are depicted singing, working or simply standing upright. You can create your own garden gnome from scratch, using modeling clay. However, as the gnome will remain outdoors, you need a sturdy material that the rain can't affect; thus, polymer clay is an option for this craft.

Mold the polymer clay with your hands to form the basic figure of the gnome. This includes the legs, torso, arms, head and the conical hat of the gnome. If the gnome is playing an instrument or uses a work-related tool, form its shape too during this stage.

Use a carving tool to form the gnome's details. This includes carving the eyes, nose and ears, drawing lines on the beard to give it a more-realistic look, adding buttons to the clothes, separating the shirt from the pants and adding a belt.

Form a circular base for the gnome using a compass, so that it can stand upright. The base must be made from polymer clay and measure three times the size of the gnome's feet in diameter and half-inch in thickness. Gently press the gnome's feet on the base.

Put the gnome in the oven and bake it for 30 minutes per quarter inch of thickness. Also, see your polymer clay's packaging to determine the optimal baking temperature, which is typically between 230 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Allow the gnome to cool down overnight. Use acrylic paints to color the gnome and complete the craft.

Warning

Make gentle moves when you are using the carving knife. Unbaked polymer clay is quite soft and reckless moves can ruin your gnome's shape.

About the Author

Tasos Vossos has been a professional journalist since 2008. He has previously worked as a staff writer for "Eleftheros Tipos," a leading newspaper of Greece, and is currently a London-based sports reporter for Perform Sports Media in the United Kingdom. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication and media from the University of Athens.