A small statue of a gnome that's used by certain kinds of people as part of landscaping.

A classic shenanigan involves liberating a garden gnome and sending back postcards from all over the world as the gnome sees the seven wonders of the world.

Make Your Own Garden Gnome

In Europe (especially in Germany and The Czech Republic) as well as in other parts of the globe (including America), garden gnomes remain popular not only in lawns, patios, poolsides, and of course in gardens, but also indoors (mostly for collectors). Now while some may freely express their hatred against garden gnomes (why???), many are still very much tempted to buy them and bring them home as ornaments or charms (according to European folklore garden gnomes bring good luck). But how many of us have visited the local garden supplies shop, called the landscape artist, or even checked the Internet only to find ourselves discouraged because the cost of buying one is simply not worth it? Be at peace; you are not alone. And don't you give up just yet, there's still hope. The answer is to make your own.

Yes, your very own garden gnome! Imagine the sense of fullfilment you will feel the moment you've realesed this beautiful creature into your garden. It's simple, easy to make (heck even a seven month old fetus can do this!), and inexpensive (I swear it won't cost you a hundred dollars!). You can find all the stuff you need at home-if not, you can buy them at Wal-Mart or at the junkshop around the corner, or (don't do this!) you can steal from your neighbor, or scavenge at the city dump (yeah! bring me my gloves). So let's begin!

The Body
For the gnome's body you will need a deflated rubber balloon (you can get this at kiddy parties), any color will do; I recommend the pear-shaped ones over the spheres. Before we proceed, read this first: condoms are not balloon substitutes. Is that clear? Okay. So... Inflate the balloon until it is about seven inches in diameter (roughly the size of a basketball) then tie the end and make sure that the air inside does not escape (you may use elastic bands or the classic ribbon, it doesn't really matter). To keep it in place, set it on a bowl (yes, you may use Lalique) and tape it down (I suggest masking tape, duct tape is fine). Next, mix equal parts of PVA glue and water then using a paint brush, apply the mixture over the balloon. Then, coat the balloon's surface with pieces and strips of old newspaper or used paper bags (from the grocery). Let it dry. There! You now have the basic shape for the gnome's body.

Legs and Shoes

  • Legs: Use two cardboard tissue paper tubes to make legs. On each tube, add a ring around one end using rolled newspaper sheets (modeling clay will do but it is also more expensive). Secure them with sticky tape (you may need lots of tape, but tape's cheap anyway). Deflate your paper-coated balloon and, again, using tape, stick the tissue roll tubes into to gnome's body (the rounder end of the balloon's shell ).

  • Shoes: Scrouge up more newspaper and shape them into a pair of shoes; make sure they're rounder at the outer ends. Tape or glue them to the gnome's legs.

  • Arms
    Scrouge up more newspaper until it is the shape and size of a banana; use sticky tape to hold the shape in place. Make two of these. Hurray! Now you have arms for your gnome.

    Hands
    Get more newspaper and follow the techniques above to make hands (you know, scrouging up, shaping, etc.). Make sure the proportions are correct. Check the internet for gnome anatomy. If you're not smart enough to find any websites featuring proportions in gnome bodies, I suggest you find a stuffed toy about two feet tall and use it as your model.

    Hat
    Go to the gift shop and steal obtain a party hat. If you're too chicken to do that you can't, make one. Use coversheet paper or cardboard and roll it into a cone, the radius of the base should be close to two inches (you can actually adjust). Use more tape. I own stocks of every sticky tape company.

    Head
    This is where the fun begins. As in the body, you will need a balloon in making the head. Inflate it. The radius should be two inches (again, you can adjust this, depending on the size of the damned stuff toy's head). Same process as the body: newspaper strips, PVA glue, lots of patience. When it's dry, you can give it a face. Now while you can simply paint a smiley face there, why don't we make this more exciting? Let's give your gnome the face of a celebrity. For this activity, we'll use Tom Cruise's face (only because it's very easy to find).

    1. Find a front view picture of Tom Cruise's face (this is really very easy). Just his face, okay? You can either buy a poster at Target or you can google it (images.google.com). If you choose to get it online, save it on your Mac or PC.
    2. Find a sideview shot of Tom Cruise's face. Not as easy as the first one, but not so hard either. I think the movie poster for War of The Worlds or Minority Report has one. Oh, did I forget to emphasize that it has to be a sideview and not profile shot? Sideview okay?! Sideview! Alright. If you googled it, save it.
    3. Now for those with posters coz you were too dumb to search the net, scan it at 300 dpi (why 300 dpi? well why not 301!). Save it and open the file in photoshop (or GIMP, whatever). For those who found his pics online (and saved it in your My Documents folder (or elsewhere), open it also (yes you also have to use photoshop).
    4. If you found them online, resize the pictures so they're of the same resolution.
    5. Resize the front view (by the way, his headshot should be really symmetrical) and the sideview so they're the same height; use the nose the chin and the forhead as guides.
    6. Duplicate his sideview shot and use the edit/transform/flip horizontal command. Save it as "sideview.copy.jpg" (you can also save it as a bitmap or in .tif)
    7. Using photo printer, or laser printer, print his front view and his two sideview shots.
    8. Paste or glue the headshot to the gnome's head. Use modeling clay to outline his eyebrows, eye lids, pupils, lips, and laugh lines. The sideview prints will serve as your guides in molding Tom Cruise's nose. When you're done apply PVA glue over the face and coat it with a thin layer of toilet paper. Let it dry.

    As an added detail, cut out two tear drop shaped pieces of paper and paste one at the sides of his face as ears. Or find Orlando Bloom's Legolas shots or Liv Tyler's Arwen photos, and use their ears as models. You may photoshop them, print them, texturize them (using clay), and stick them to Tom Gnome's temples.

    Make his hair using leftover spaghetti or more modeling clay. Apply PVA glue and coat with more toilet paper.

    Add more detail (collar, buttons, cuffs, shoe strings, etc.) to make your gnome more realistic.

    Final Steps
    Paint your gnome with acrylic paint. Suggestions: the gnome's hat and his clothes dark green, black for the shoes, and flesh for the skin. I think dark brown looks nice for the hair, and dark blue for the eyes. When the whole thing is dry, glue the body parts togehter (head, body, arms, hands, etc.). For this, use rubber cement, wood glue, or super glue. Then, apply varnish to protect your garden gnome from the elements.

    In summary, you can make your own garden gnome in three easy steps.

    • Forming the body parts

    • Making the gnome's face

    • Painting and adding detail

    Adorable, charming, and very easy to make, a garden gnome is a definite must have in every house. So what are you waiting for? Make your own garden gnome now!

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