If I had my way, my whole yard would be hardscape. Most yard work around here involves a whole lot of weed pulling, so the more non-living landscape, the less weed pulling!
I got interested in working with cement for several reasons. It’s quite inexpensive, it’s fun playing with mud, and my results are always unique. No two items are exactly alike. If I am making any kind of shape, I get most of my molds from thrift shops or dollar stores. With the exception of the sand and cement in my materials list, every single item I used in this instructable is from either a thrift shop or a dollar store. And the trowel was a gift from a friend.
Here is my instructable for a cement gnome.
Portland Type 1 cement
Nylon pantyhose or nylon knee-highs
Trowel for mixing and shoveling cement into your pantyhose
Mixing bowl you don’t need for any other purpose
Yarn, string or ribbon
Elastic hair bands
Optional - wide mouth glass or plastic planter
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Step 1: Gather Supplies
These are the items I used for my gnome project.
Step 2: Prepare Cement
Mix 1 part Portland cement and 2 parts play sand in your mixing bowl. I used 2 scoops of cement and 4 scoops of sand which was enough to make 2 gnomes.
Add water to make your cement the consistency of brownie mix. I used 12 ounces of water for this project. If you have to go make brownies to understand this, now is the time.
Step 3: Make Your Stocking Mold
Cut off the pantyhose leg from the top and roll it down. Stretch it over a pail or wide mouth glass for ease of shoveling the cement into the stocking. It’s not entirely necessary to do this, it just frees up both of your hands.
Step 4: Shaping the Gnome
When you have scooped out about half of your cement mixture into the stocking, remove the stocking from its holder and shake it down to the toe of the stocking. Begin kneading the cement to smooth out the cement within the stocking. You will have moisture ooze out of the weave of the nylon which is actually desired as it covers the mesh of the stocking. If you use flesh colored stockings or knee-highs, you won’t have to remove the stocking in step 6.
Step 5: Add the Features
Now is the time to build the shape. Use your fingers to pinch some cement into rounded foot shapes and secure with an elastic hair band. Then move up the body and separate the head from the body. Place another elastic hair band to create a neck. After the neck is defined, tie a knot in the top of the head to secure the shape. Next is the nose. Don’t hurry, you have plenty of time to undo and redo as much as you like. This particular cement requires a 24 hour cure.
Step 6: Curing Time
When you are happy with your features, prop your gnome against a vertical surface for the curing process. The cement tends to settle and your gnome will list backward if not propped up.
Cure for 24 hours.
Step 7: Remove the Stocking and Elastic
Cut the top knot and remove the stocking and elastic bands from your gnome. This is optional. If you don’t want to remove the stocking, just remove the elastic bands and leave the top knot in place. Cut the excess stocking above the top knot.
I recommend you use scissors or even a narrow screwdriver to pry off the elastic bands. The neck band can be difficult to pry out, but your won't damage the gnome when doing this. It's pretty indestructible at this point. I have a dedicated pair of old scissors that belong with my other cement working tools since they aren't much good for anything else afterward.
Step 8: Accessorize!
Time for accessories. Mix a very thin solution of Portland cement and water. Cut a sock where the calf meets the heel and dip the calf piece into your cement mixture. Soak it through until all of the original color is covered with cement. Then fashion a cap onto the gnome’s head. Have fun. You’re making a fashion statement here! Spray the body with water as you work to dilute any dripping that may occur. Fashion a scarf using the same technique. My yarn didn’t take up the cement as well as the cotton sock did, but rather than use paint, I chose to leave it alone.
Step 9: Final Cure
When you are happy with your creation, allow the cement to cure overnight. Depending on how ornate your cap is, you may need to prop it up.
Step 10: Enjoy
That’s it! Have fun decorating your yard with gnomes. If you are anything like me, you will be overrun with gnomes and gnomettes in no time at all.
First Prize in the
Stone Concrete and Cement Contest