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Polymer Clay Tutorial - Make a gnome with Papa's Clay

Papa's Clay Gnomes


We're going to make a basic gnome in this clay tutorial using Papa's Clay polymer clay. The great thing about this tutorial is that it starts out simple, but you can add as much or as little detail as you like. And, you will see how experimenting with details will add a lot to your polymer clay sculptures.


Here's what you will need to get started:

Step 1 - Condition the Clay

Papa's Clay conditions differently than other types of clay. It just needs some gentle rolling and heat from your hands. Make sure to condition your clay before you start working with it. Small pieces take just a few seconds to condition and big pieces can take up to a minute or two. You can use a hair dryer to condition it even quicker. Your scrap pieces should be pretty quick to condition, but you might need a bit longer depending on how much white clay you need.

Step 2 - Make the gnome body

Take your main color polymer clay and turn it into a cone. You’ll probably want to do some adjusting here and there to get it into your desired shape and size. Spending some extra time to make sure your clay is not misshapen anywhere will be very helpful.


Once you’re happy with it, take a cutting tool and slice off the top. And, do a little more adjusting if you need to. You can also take your polymer clay cone and put in the refrigerator for a few minutes to harden it up so that it does not get adjusted by the cutting tool.

Cutting off Top of clay body


Gnome Body

 Our cone needs a little adjusting after removing the top.

Step 3 - Make the gnome nose

We mixed half latte and half ocher for the nose we created, but you can use any color or combination of colors for your nose.

Take your polymer clay and shape it into a little Tic Tac looking thing and press it on the top side of your gnome’s body.

Gnome nose

Step 4 - Make the gnome hair

Take the polymer clay you used for your gnome's hair and turn it into a snake using your fingers. You can use an extruder or other techniques to roll out your clay, but this does not need to be super-precise. Get it to a decent size based upon how big your gnome body is.

Fold the snake in half then twist it together so it looks kind of like a braid. Then cut it in half so you have two pieces.

Put one piece of hair on one side of the nose. And then cut off the excess so you can place the other piece on the other side of the nose.

Gnome Hair

Place your second piece and do a little adjustment so that it looks like hair is coming down from inside the gnome’s hat.

Trim off any excess.

Gnome Hair

Gnome without a Hat

Step 5 - Make the gnome hat

Make another cone out of your polymer clay for the hat, but use less clay this time than you did for the gnome body.

Spend some extra time making sure your clay cone is not misshapen anywhere. Then, make sure you get a nice, pointy end on it.

You can use your finger or a ball stylus to push in the bottom of the gnome's hat.  This will make it look like your gnome's hat is sitting on top of an actual head instead of smashed on top of the hair and nose you made.

Step 5 - Admire your gnome

Polymer Clay Gnome

Bake your gnome and then admire it. It took about 15 minutes total to make this, but we used a lot of beginner's polymer clay techniques. Techniques like making shapes, rolling clay, and adjusting as you work are very important for sculpting.

This beginner polymer clay tutorial is also great because it gives you a "blank slate" that you can add a lot of detail and personalization to.

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