Step 1: Choose your Hero
Additionally, you'll want to consider the physical feature of your gnome. Is it standing? Sitting? Does it have distinct features that lend itself to a specific superhero? In the case of the three gnomes I have here, there were definite characteristics that led me to choose the heroes I did. From here forward, I'll describe the steps to create a Batman, Robin, and Spiderman gnome set. These techniques can be used to make any garden hero.
Batman and Robin: One gnome is in a proud, alert stance. The other is sitting with his head resting on his hands. This gnome pair struck me as a great duo. To me, the obvious choice was the classic Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin. But I thought I'd change it up a bit and make the standing gnome be the Boy Wonder and the sitting gnome be the Dark Knight. I thought this was more unexpected.
Spiderman: I also had a crawling gnome. As I was holding it and positioning it in different orientations, I noticed that if I held it vertically it looked like it was crawling up a wall, and the knee area had a hole in it to use as a place from which to hang it. So to me Spiderman seemed like a no-brainer. I could position the gnome so that it looked like Spiderman clinging to a wall.
Step 2: Supplies
- Ceramic garden gnomes
- Sculpey (Super Sculpey is my preference but Sculpey III is good too)
- Bondo body filler
- Craft paint (any type that is rated for ceramics...some aren't. Read the label)
- Paint brushes (artist's and/or craft brushes)
- Spray paint (Clear, outdoor enamel)
- Razor knife (or Xact-o knife)
- Oven (to bake the Sculpey, silly)
- Aluminum foil
- Baking sheet
- Rolling pin (or piece of PVC pipe)
- A smooth, hard surface (such as a sheet of glass or countertop)
- Sand paper (120 grit and 200 grit)
- Wooden spatulas or tongue depressors
- Construction adhesive
- Accessories: such as little buttons, buckles, twine, etc.
Step 3: Sculpting
Make a little ball of Sculpey and squish it into a circle. Use it to decorate Robin's belt buckle.
For Batman's ears roll two Sculpey balls and shape them into pointy cones. Use your thumb to smoosh them into place on the side of the gnome's head. They'll probably stick there in place and hold on their own.
You should have excess Sculpey rolled out. You can use a razor knife to cut out a Bat-a-rang. Make a paper template if needed.
Step 4: Baking
Remember, there is nothing holding the Sculpey onto the gnome (no glue or anything). But the Sculpey will probably stick to the ceramic really tightly anyway. I doubt that the Sculpey will stick to the gnome long term so you should carefully pry the Sculpey piece off and glueit back on with construction adhesive. This will hold pretty well outside.
Step 5: More sculpting
Bondo is a two-part body filler material used in the auto body industry. It's like spackle but is really hard and durable when dry. Read the directions on the can. Mix it up in a plastic cup per the Bondo instructions. Then use a popsicle stick to apply it to the Batman ears and Batman mask where the Sculpey meets the ceramic. Let this dry a few hours. Drying Bondo smells great; it reminds me of being a kid when my older brother would work on cars. But you should probably head the warning on the can and ventilate.
Step 6: Sanding
Step 7: Painting
For Batman, gather some black, gold, grey, and blue. For Robin, you'll need green, gold, red, and black. For Spiderman, white, black, red, and blue. For all of the gnomes, you'll need some colors for the beards, and some browns and greens for the shoulder bags and foliage.
There is no need to prime. Just start painting. Another thing to consider is the costume. It's better to roughly follow the gnomes existing clothes than to crowbar in an exact interpretation of the comic book costume.
Download the characters' emblems from a Google image search. Use these as a guide to sketch out the emblem onto the gnome's cap using a soft pencil. The cap is the most prominent piece of clothing on a gnome. So it is best to put the emblem on the cap rather than, say, the chest. Once it was sketched out, paint the emblem in with a fine artist's brush and acrylic paints.
Step 8: Sealing
Step 9: Accessorizing
For Robin, take 24 inches of hemp twine and neatly coil it up. Then use construction adhesive to glue it onto Robin's shoulder bag.
Take some of the buttons and buckles that you gathered and glue them to the gnome's shoulder bags and jacket cuffs.
Step 10: Displaying
Take your gnomes inside during winter. The crime rate drops dramatically during the colder months anyway.