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.


  1. Ava just saw this from behind me and she is so jealous of your students! coolest art projects ever! These are so adorable:) I wish I had access to a kiln.

  2. Anonymous2/28/2013

    You are such a wally!!!!!
    Love it!

  3. oh they are adorable :)


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