Showing posts with label gnomes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gnomes. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2013

DIY: Ceramic Gnome Homes

A neighborhood of gnome homes.
 My hubs and I've been married for something like a dozen years. Not sure exactly because I lost our marriage certificate long ago. It wasn't a day that stands out in my mind because it was simply a fifteen minute session with the judge at the courthouse. I don't remember much except that I wore this horrible cornflower blue two-piece suit dress from Talbots thus making me look like Barbara Bush. Hawt.

Details of adorableness. You sure you can handle this much cute?

Wait. Where was I going with this? Ah, yes, married life. In the beginning, hubs and I were never apart. And it was lovely cause we didn't wanna be. This changed over time (like six months in) and I began to kinda-sorta freakin' love my alone time. You see, hubs has to go on these occasional work trips and when he does, I likes to party. And by party I mean invite a buncha buddies over for grown-up drinks, laughs and gnome-home making. Exactly what the Beastie Boys were talkin' about during their fight for the right to party.
Textures for clay: lace, crochet bits, burlap and plastic doilies. Although texture possibilities are endless. My personal fave: the bottom of my shoe.
 Let's say you wanna indulge in your own gnome home making merriment. Well, this here clay project is so easy you can still be successful after a grown-up drink or three. Here's what you'll need:
  •  clay (I use a low-fire clay like cone 04-06)
  • rolling pins
  • textures
  • cornstarch (clay can often be too damp and stick to your rolling pin and textures. Cornstarch makes it less sticky without removing too much moisture)
  • old toothbrushes and cups of water
  • wooden skewers (for cutting the clay)
I swear to you my hands are not this skin-removed pink. Although maybe they are. The kids can hardly focus when I demonstrate on the elmo (not the doll, you silly, the piece of electronic equipment). My favorite kid comment of late: (whispering) ewww, did you see her hands?!
 To begin, I create the bottom of my home. Pick a texture and place it on a non-sticky surface. Place your clay on top of that. If your clay is sticky, sprinkle it with cornstarch and set to rollin' wit your pin. Not your homies. Keep you clay at a 1/4" thickness. Any thicker can cause explosions in your kiln while any thinner can be too weak. You gots to get this just right, Goldie Locks.
 Peel your clay off and viola! You've got texture. Now let's roll it up and make it into the base of your home.

 Now you could just roll it up as-is as shown on the left. Or you could cut one end of your rolled slab with an interesting line to jazz of the piece. It's up to you. Whatever you decide, use your old toothbrush to scrub one side thus gluing the connected pieces together.
 For some variety, I opted for a different texture for the roof. Crocheted bits like this can be purchased at your local craft store or pinched from your grannies house. You know, that lady who dresses like Barbara Bush.
 Roll this up waffle cone style. Again, toothbrush before you attach one side of the cone to the other. It might stick while you work but there's a chance that without using the toothbrush and water to attach it might not remain stuck for long.

 Set the roof on your house and pray you made it the right size. And if you didn't then you just messed the whole thing up. Aw, just kidding. But you did kinda mess up. Sorry. Make your waffle smaller/bigger and try to get it right this time, would ya?

My other favorite textures? Stamps! The larger stamps could also be used for the base or the roof.
I decided to use the stamps for details like this little faux wooden door. Clay loves to adhere to stamps so go all cornstarch on it and you'll be fine.
 My fave finishing touches are doors, windows, flowers and hearts. There are endless possibilities. I mean, just take a look at this cuteness:

 Aww! Add a couple hearts to the top for you and that special guy you hope goes out of town. These were done with stamps but you could also use alphabet pasta. Just leave the pasta in and let it fire off in the kiln.
 Sweet little ladder. It's always good to have a fire escape.
 It's so adorable it's burning my eyes. Seriously.
Because I knew I'd have a hard time getting all these ladies back at the same time, I opted to have them make and glaze their houses in one sitting. For that I used The Clay Lady's Clay Paint. Her "paint" is an engobe (which is dried clay with pigment added). This can be painted directly on to wet clay. Once dry, these pieces were dunked in The Clay Lady Glaze. Because I love vibrant colors, I use Mayco's Stroke and Coat with the children.
I'm thinking that the creation of these homes just might have gotten the gnome bug outta my system (as evidenced by this gnome dress, my students gnomies and my own gnome homes). In fact, I think I'll turn to my longtime fashion consultant and ask her opinion. What say you, Barb?
Hey! That's my wedding dress!
Geez, so many caption options with this photo:

"Shhh! You'll wake the gnomes!"

"Smell my finger. Does it smell like Cheetos to you?"

"I know where your marriage certificate is but I'll never tell!"

Wow, Barb. Just, wow.

Merry gnome-home making to you! Until next time, enjoy your week.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In the Art Room: Chillin' wit my Gnomies

When writing about her gnomette, this sweet third grade artist said one of her hobbies was taking care of her pets when not working at the animal shelter. So sweet compared to the axe-wielding, sneaky-eyed gnome shown a little later in this post...

 Greetings from Gnomeville! Please feel free to pull up a mushroom, make yourself a tiny gnome-sized cup of tea and stay awhile. I've got many a gnome-tastic masterpiece to share with you, so make yourself at gnome, er home.
Despite the awkward placement of the fishing pole, I do love this sneaky-faced fisherman.
 You might remember we began our study of Germany and garden gnomes ages ago. I shared a very brief gnome history here and even whipped up a gnome dress for the occasion. Since then, the art room has become over run with these little dudes and I almost can't stand to be alone in the same room with all of them. They are Always Watching.
My collection of gnome books. The one in the foreground proved to be the most kid friendly. While I love Gnomeland, mooning and chest baring gnomes are just the kind of thing that principal lady of mine frowns upon. The kids were fascinated by How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack. It's important to be prepared.
 Wanna make your own gnome-tastic landscape? Here's how we did it:
  •  We started with a 12" X 18" piece of white paper. After a big fat hairy lesson on color mixing, we painted layers of color for our sky. This took us two thirty minute sessions.
  • The next week, we had a chat about Germany's Black Forrest. We learned that it got it's name from the Romans who called it such because the dense coverage of the trees makes the forest very dark. We talked about the textures of the forest while passing around objects from the photo above: wool, turkey feathers, pine needles and a brillo pad to recall how moss might feel.
  •  After that touchy-feely session, we discussed implied texture and how to create them. We spent one class using sponges or brushes to create clouds in our sky. The following class, we sponge painted green papers to imply the texture of moss. Lastly, we painted texture of tree bark on brown papers.
This is actually a grouping of first grade landscapes. They went about their sky differently by simply picking a sky color and adding clouds. They had already studying sky painting here. I'm sharing their work so you can see how the third graders also created their landscape.

  •  To assemble our landscapes, we tore our green painted papers and glued them down. In order to "plant" the trees, I asked the students to only add glue to the straight edge of the ground, not the torn one. This made it so we could tuck trees and mushrooms into the land later.
  • Another tearing sessions resulted in our trees and branches. The kids tired of the branch making business pretty early as you might be able to tell. The end result looks like some serious pruning happened in the Black Forest. Oh well.
 Disco Gnome complete with a ginger afro, funky glasses and a disco ball. The little Sweet and Sassy Gnome on the right is holding a Valentine's heart that reads "kiss me".
  •  When the landscape collage portion was complete, we set those aside for many a day to craft our gnomes. I am on a toilet paper tube project kick (see our hot air balloons here) and that's what came in so hand for the gnome bodies. Most of the kids painted them so that one color was on the top and a different one on the bottom.
  • While those dried, we began drawing the faces of our gnomes. We did our usual: draw with a pencil, trace with a sharpie, erase peek-a-boo pencil lines and add color, baby, color (don't ask me why, but I always say, "color, baby, color" like I'm Tom Jones or something). Those were cut out and glued to our tubes along with arms, shoes, hands and props.
Not sure if this is a gnomette or a princess waiting for her carriage in the distance. I do know that this artist started quite the trend among the gnomettes by requesting a "fluffy skirt" skirt (gee, I wonder where she got that idea?). My stash of coffee filters came in pretty handy. P.S., how cute is that fan?!
  • Once the gnomes were complete, the kids cut the tube up the back. Then they folded a small ledge on either side of the tube. This gave the tube a flat surface to better attach to the paper.
Okay, I'm in love with this gnome. Not only is he affectionate ("Kiss the Cook" apron, seriously?) but he's also rather handy in the baked goods department. Cookies and 1$ pies? Don't mind if I do.
  • Once the gnomes were attached to their landscapes, the kids continued to enhance their scene. Some kids requested to create another gnome from a tube, three boys decided they need tube-cars and, as you can see above, one tube was used as a pie stand. I have a very hard time saying "no" to the kids when they run their genius ideas past me. How can I deny their enthusiasm and creativity? This explains why our projects take for-evah.
The artist who created the work on the left requested a handle for his ax. We used a toothpick. And check out that fishing gnome. This artist even included a reel in the gnomes right hand.

Oh, look, it's Gnomeland's Got Talent. I'm not sure what happened to her back up singers but I'm totally diggin' the tip jar and the boom box. She's ole skool.
This work was created by the artist who affectionately refers to herself as Mini-Mrs. Stephens. She really wanted her gnome to look like the one I had on display. I'd say she did an excellent job. I especially like her addition of the fuzzy slippers.
Can you tell what this gnome is doing? He's leaf-blowing! What my photo didn't capture was the large leaf-blower he's wearing on his back. I love the wind blown leaves.
I have to tell you, I think this might be one of my favorite projects so far this year. The kids just went wild with ideas for their gnomes and they seemed to enjoy every minute. I do hope you've enjoyed your stay chillin' wit my gnomies. Until next time, as the gnome above would say, "Peace out, dudes!"





Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I Wore this Week #44

What I Wore on Wednesday: Don't ask me what happened to Monday and Tuesday. I'm on vacation. Which usually means pj's and unwashed hair for as many days as I can manage. In this case, it was only two. Mom came to visit on Wednesday, so I had to look semi-presentable. sweater: thrifted with vintage buttons added my me; skirt: vintage, thrifted; fishnets over tights (which I do believe I did every day this week): Target; boots: my good ole Seychelles; scarf: Germany
 Well, my Thanksgiving Break is now hours away from coming to an end. The reality of that has definitely not set in. I'm still knee deep in unfinished sewing/crafting/and Christmas decorating projects and I just can't bear the thought of leaving them untouched tomorrow. The silver lining is that I'm very excited about our upcoming unit on Germany. I've got my cuckoo clock dress and the coordinating lesson complete. But that's just for my second grade lesson. I've decided that my first and third grade are going to complete a gnome-themed project. Having done some research on gnomes, I thought I'd share it with you this week. They are quite the character.
Garden Gnome Liberation Front: Did you know there was such a thing? Apparently it's a group of (crazy) people in Europe whose mission is to rescue gnomes from their lives in boring middle-class gardens and return them to their original homes in the mountains. In this article, you can read how one group of guys can be hired to fight against The Front (as they're called) by dressing up as Snow White's Seven Dwarves to divert attention away from the gnomes and...I'm not sure what their services offer after that. They can also be hired for birthday parties. Something to keep in mind.
Thanksgiving!: Mom, hubs and I loaded up the cars and headed south to Birmingham, Alabama to visit the hub's parents and family. It was a deliciously lovely day that ended with a long walk down the railroad tracks collecting pine cones and railroad ties. dress: Anthro, picked up at Buffalo Exchange; blouse and belt: gifts from friends; boots: Frye, picked up for cheap at French's Boots in Franklin, Tn
So apparently, there is no definitive history of the gnome. It seems many cultures have their own version of a mystical dwarf, some dating as far back as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece. Fairy tales and folklore from medieval times are full of stories of goblins, trolls, leprechauns, elves, and fairies. This illustration is from Gnomes by Wil Huygen, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet.
Black Friday Shopping: We are rather lazy Black Friday shoppers as we didn't leave the house til 8am. By the time we hit the stores, shelves were pretty empty and the Crazy Shopping Zombies were gone. I could tell my mom was pretty bummed. She's a serious people watcher that was dying to go out at midnight. But I just don't have the stomach to watch humanity behave humiliatingly. sweater and tights: picked up just recently at Target; dress and belt: vintage, from a play I performed in during high school; boots: I only brought one pair on this trip -- Frye.
Story goes that the first gnome statue was introduced to a garden by an Englishman named Sir Charles Isham of Lamport Hall. After having built a huge rockery (er, that's a rock garden of sorts) and filling it with dwarf conifers, our friend of Lamport Hall just didn't feel his garden was complete. It was missing that certain gnome-y something. Sir Charles Isham picked his up in Germany where the figures were mostly kept in drawing rooms. When one gnome just wasn't enough, whole communities of gnomes were added to his garden. Image from pinterest.
Mom Love: After a slightly fruitless day of Black Friday shopping, my mom made the long drive back to Indiana. I'm guessing it took her around nine hours. Ouch. My butt goes numb after two. I'm so glad she made the trip.
The Gnome
by Margaret Morgan

Deep down he goes, the little gnome,
Deep down into his earthy home.
Deep Down among the roots he lives;
Such help to all the plants he gives.

He helps the seed to split its skin;
He helps the roots to settle in;
He helps the shoots to stand upright
And grow to reach the warm sunlight.

Sometimes he comes above the ground;
Sometimes his footprints can be found;
Sometimes, before the moon is up,
He drinks the dew from bluebell cups.



Exploring Birmingham Saturday: My mom-in-law took us on a tour of Birmingham's thrift and antique shops. We stopped by the awesome Peanut Depot for some cajun roasted nuts and some amazing baked goods at the Continental Bakery. We ended out tour with a view of the city. sweater: vintage, gift from my mom-in-law; scarf: Germany; skirt: Anthro; tights: Target
It's said that gnomes are optimists and that they breathe contentment. And I guess two gnomes are better than one. Especially when you've found your gnome-y match made in heaven. Image from the Gnome Habitat in Auburn, California.
Oh, look, it's me with my gnome-y love match. And he's almost got the gnome-beard to match. I'm working on a couple of matching conical shaped hats for us.
And I just had to include these gnome zombies by the artists Chris Stever and Jane DeRosa. You have to check out their etsy shop. I definitely would add these to my place-were-mostly-weeds-grow garden, especially at Halloween.
 Thanks for dropping by! And may the happy and optimistic spirit of the gnome be with you this week.