This was another one of my strange Halloween decoration ideas (I'm sure some of you remember my "Severed Leg" prop!) , however this one required a very different process that I'd never experimented with before. Nevertheless, it was a fun project and I'll probably be making at least one more of these creepy little guys!
This "Gnombie" required few materials, but required some patience to put it all together. All you will need is some sturdy chicken wire, mixing bowl, measuring cups, water, and ShapeCrete (a type of concrete material that can be sculpted like clay) Continue to the next step to see how to begin!
Step 1: Assemble the Armature
When I built the armature for my Gnombie, I ended up with some leftover scrap material so I also built a Were-Gnome! (he'll be my next project) Assembling the armatures required the use of tin snips and wire clippers to cut the chicken wire apart, and some needle-nose pliers to twist the individual sections together to shape the armatures.
I started out with a "tube" shape for the body, then added legs and arms with thinner rolls of the wire. I then attached the figures to flat sections of chicken wire so they would stand upright on their own.
Step 2: Mix the Shape-Crete
Mixing the ShapeCrete took a little bit of trial-and-error before I got the consistency right for sculpting. On the bucket it says to mix 4 cups ShapeCrete to one cup water, however it really took about 6 1/2 cups of the ShapeCrete to get it thick enough for sculpting onto the armature.
Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling this material, and also it's very dusty so be careful not to breath it in when scooping from the bucket and mixing.
Step 3: Begin Sculpting
Start at the feet of your piece to prevent it from becoming too top-heavy as you work. I began by rounding out the feet, then working up the legs, and then adding flat sections of ShapeCrete to fill out the body shape. The arms I did last, again to prevent issues with front-heaviness before completion. ShapeCrete is about as heavy as regular concrete, so this is something to take into consideration while sculpting.
When I reached the face of my Gnombie, I used smaller pieces of Shape Crete to detail the nose, eyeballs and mouth. I used a sculptor's tool to put in the finer details and modeled the rest with my fingers.
Step 4: Add Finishing Details
After your zombie gnome has been shaped and sculpted to your satisfaction, smooth out the piece with a damp sponge or dip your fingers in water and smooth with with your fingertips. I finished out the entire base of this piece with a flat layer of ShapeCrete so the entire sculpture would stand up solidly, without risk of falling over, when dry.
Step 5: Set Aside to Dry
Now that Gnombie is completed, I set him up on a table to dry, with a fan blowing in his direction. ShapeCrete cures in 30 minutes to an hour or more depending on the size and thickness of the project. I propped him up with a metal rod under one arm while drying, simply to prevent an accidental tip-over. This will be removed when the piece is dry.
After drying, I'll paint him with creepy zombie-like colors!
Step 6: Paint and Detail
The ShapeCrete cured easily over night, and was ready to paint. I painted my "Gnombie" with regular acrylic artist's paint, and then sprayed the entire piece over with matte polyurethane finish, to protect the paint from washing off over time.
He is now ready for display in the garden, (along with his finished Were-Gnome buddy!) so together they can creep out a few Trick-or-Treaters this Halloween!