Introduction: Grocery Gnome: Candy, Fundraising, Collecting and More!

About: I adore instructables and use it when I'm playing with ideas for my students (I'm a certified art teacher and the Art Director for a children's summer camp). I have found that it fuels my creative process as …

I was asked recently to create something to hold receipts from a local grocery store in town.  The receipts are collected and tallied and the parent store donate money to the school.  So creating something catch that people look at or remember is helpful to get them to bring in more receipts.  So, this year I decided to create a Grocery Gnome or GG for short.

While he is used to hold paper receipts he can also hold candy to pass out, small toys, tickets, names for a drawing o even used as a wicked cool trash can by your desk.

Step 1: Materials Needed

I'm going to list materials I used, however keep in mind creativity is key and you can easily use other materials that work for your project.  I made something similar last year you can look at for ideas as well if you click HERE or even this instructable of mine

Small trash can
Large bouncy ball
spray foam insulation (Great stuff)ylic
poster board
tin foil
acrylic paint
hot glue & hot glue gun
blue disposable shop towels
acrylic paint
fake fruit

Step 2: The Basic Shape

I had to decide how I was going to crate the basic gnome shape. I found this great trash can that had an angle to the opening and a great big ball at wal-mart and decide this would be my gnomes basic make up.

Now, you could use a gallon bucket, balloons or other material, but I was in a time crunch so as I walked along the aisles of wal-mart these items caught my eye an I thought, AH HA! 

Step 3: Weight

My trash can was light weight and I knew I was going to have a big hat on this thing, so I had to do something so it wouldn't fall over when someone sneezed,  Art teachers have hordes of random items around rooms, we all are secretly pack rats.  Alright it's not that big of a secret but we hope people don't notice.  So I had a ton of shooter marbles running around (I still have more and I used a lot!).

I placed them on the bottom of the trash can then used an entire can of the spray insulation inside the can and set the ball on top and went away for the weekend.

The idea was to have the islation fom around the marrbles and up to the ball and create a vacuum effect for the ball as well as not allowing the marbles to move around.

Step 4: Details

The ball is now in place and the marbles no longer rolling around.  It was time to add more detail to the basic gnome shape.  Using poster board and tape I created the shape of the hat.

Using more spray foam insulation I put details on the gnome like his beard and hair, I filled the hat to make it sturdy, and created a foot.

I did put it in a box to add these parts because I knew foam would drop and spray foam insulation is super sticky and it is a pain to clean up!

I took a cardboard box and cut it to look like a paper sack and glued it to the outside of the trash can so it appeared that the sack was sitting down by the gnome.  (you will see this pictured on the next step)

I also took tinfoil to make the nose shape and taped it on the ball. 

Step 5: Paper Mache

There are a million ways to paper mache.  (ok I'm exagerating a little bit but there are at least a dozen if not more.)  I like using glue and plaster, I used it in this instructable as well. It's light weight, easy to use and really durable.  For something that was going to be used by kids and in our school office, this seemed like the best choice.

Take the blue shop paper towels and rip them into sheets.  Wet the sheets in a bowl and ring them out.  This helps break down the binder in the towel.  Mix equal amounts of plaster with white glue then add a splash of vinegar.  The vinegar keeps the plaster from getting to hard to fast.

I like doing things by cup so:

1 Cup White School Glue
1 Cup Plaster of Paris
1 Teaspoon of Vinegar

Once your mixture is nice and smooth, dip the damp paper towel into the mixture and place over your  form.  Use your fingers to smooth the towel evenly over the form and get you details in.  If you create a wrinkle, and you don't want it there, now is the time to remove it or you are stuck with it.

You CAN tear the towel into strips and dip, but the nice part about this paper towel is it's durable and soft, I would keep it pretty big chunks.

This is when you can add details as well, use small bits of paper to create bumps and so on, then sandwich them in another layer of paper towel.

Two layers is plenty to get a nice sturdy mache.

Step 6: Paint It!

It takes 24 hrs for the mache to dry.  If you want to be on the safe side wait 48 hrs.  Once dry you can use acrylic paint to bring you gnome to life.

Step 7: Attention to Details

Because this is a grocery gnome with a grocery sack I thought it should look like he had just been shopping.  Adds a little fun to the fact that receipts go in the sack to collect as well.  I bought some cheap fake fruit and hot glued it to once side of the sack.  GG was then ready to go rock his bad boy self in the school office!

Step 8: PoofRabbit's Tips and Tricks!

Brainstorm!  This was a project for the school so my students were very involved in the design and ideas behind this gnome, it was fun and a great way to show them how to be creative and use every day things to make something different.

Draw it out!  It's always helpful to draw out your idea so you have a good solid design.

Plaster gets hot.  When plaster gets wet it starts a happy chemical reaction, that reaction creates heat.  You can burn yourself with plaster.  The vinegar helps with this, but just be mindful so you are not bathing in plaster.

Paint is your friend!  If you made an error it's amazing what you can hide with paint!

Possibilities: This gnome has a lot of possibilities for use, if you ever make something remember that one day it may need a new function and there is no reason you can't change it or add to it to fit your needs.

ENJOY!  No matter what, always enjoy what you do.  I don't feel there is a right or wrong way to art as long as you are enjoying yourself and learning!

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