Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Gnomes

It has been a while since I last participated in the Art Elements challenges, and a lot has been going on since - and still is going on.
I'm not here to talk about a virus today, but about how I try to distract myself from it at least sometimes. The Art Elements March challenge seemed like a very good opportunity to me and I couldn't resist the topic that Jenny chose for it - gnomes.

Even though being German, I never owned a garden gnome of my own. That doesn't mean, however, that I didn't see my share of them in other people's gardens. For some reason I remember those best that were in the very small garden behind a friend's house. There was only a rather small spot of grass with at least one lying fawn and a gnome. Classic. We had to move them over every time we wanted to play crocket.
Of course I know all the stereotypes, German gardens overflowing with gnomes, but I can't remember ever having seen one of those myself. Thinking of it, the gnomes I knew must have been very lonely.
Then again, maybe they enjoyed the solitude like the sleeping gnome I have shared on my blog before.

My project was inspired by several things.
One of them were pictures from childhood, much like the one with the snail riding gnome in Jenny's post.
Another one were my friend Star's incredible polymer clay snails some of which carried tiny pixies (the link is working now, I had changed it to go directly to the Flickr album and had mixed some extra links in, doh!). One of them is Maeve, the snail racer, and she's not even the smallest pixie rider (yes, that means you should check out all of Star's snails ... but wait, after reading this post!).

Of course my gnome was going to be a little bigger than those pixies, but I still intended to make him ride a snail. It started with the snail (not a kiss ;-)). I was determined to use a pair of my beloved small vintage glass eyes that I had only used once before.
A little reminder or for those who don't know it, my ex and I collected Steiff animals. One of our finds was a tin full of vintage glass eyes of all kinds for plush animals plus some other stuff. We used some of them or actually the ex did as he was better in attaching them, especially with bigger heads because you really had to pull on the thread to make the eyes sit right and then tie the knot.
There were those small eyes, though, that we never found a use for. The tin - and you may have been expecting this, it WAS a cookie tin! - stood around for many years as I haven't added much to my part of the collection and completely forgot about it. When I started needle felting, however, it caught my look again right away.
Just look how many of them there are! I even like the waxy paper bag they came in.

The glass "sticks" reminded me of snail eyes, so I figured I'd simply felt around the sticks and use a little glue at the top part to keep the glass from sliding back out. I poked my fingers a lot even though wearing my finger guards, but it worked the way I had imagined it, yay! I went from the eyes to the body which was okay as well, but don't get me started about the shell. It took forever because I didn't just want to add a ball on top, I wanted a swirl that was noticeable, at least a little. In the end I added the contrast color - inspired by our snails, the colors are just the other way round on them - to make it clearer.

Next was the gnome. I hadn't made a figure yet, but I knew I would need something to reinforce the limbs, and the pipe cleaners I had were way too big. I ended up using some of my stainless steel. There have been better ideas in my life, but although it took me even longer than the snail shell I did not give up.
Mr Gnome got some brown pants, taupe boots with black straps to go with this tall taupe hat that has a little red zigzag embellishment around the edge, and a forest green tunic that is highly fashionable thanks to his belt that I made from some satin gift ribbon and a copper jump ring.
His nose and hands are huge. I'm sure he can smell his way all around the forest and if he had an axe, he'd cut down those twigs like no one else! His eyes are seed beads (shhh, I think he may be a wee bit jealous of Schneggle's eyes).

Of course there was no chance in this whole wide world that I could move Mr Gnome's limbs afterwards to make him sit on the snail by himself. Maybe you can tell that I already designed him in a slightly sitting posture. I could have made him sit right and attach him (what a terrible thought), but he had become too big. The two of them kept falling over, and while they had a good laugh doing it, I decided they'd rather walk together in the end, well, or crawl.
Oh well, I'm sure Schneggle - which is Swabian for "snail" - didn't mind not having to carry Mr Gnome. After all he has two feet that (almost) work perfectly well, doesn't he?

This is not just a design challenge, it is also a blog hop, so please check out the others' posts as well! Thank you!


Cat (that's me ;-)) - Hope - Linda - Sarajo - Tammy  

AE team members

Cathy - Claire - Jennifer - Jenny - Lesley - Marsha - Niky

P.S. Hey guys. This is Mr Gnome speaking. I wanted to tell you what the lady is not saying. Schneggle and I have been trapped. Forest, my foot. Walking together? Inside a vase?? Yes, you read that right. She. Put. Us. In. A. Vase.
Of course she said it was only temporary while we are still hanging in the light tent. It's too dangerous there for us without a place to hide. Because of Gundel. The huge panther who has been trying to kidnap innocent felt critters like us. The other day she stole the voodoo doll, she said. And the black cat head. Both could be saved. It's no fun being in a vase. After all we are not genies!
So if you could tell her to set us free if she hasn't done so yet when you are reading this post, we'd appreciate it. A lot. Thank you!


  1. I enjoy reading about you thoughts and the process of your creations! Your friends snails are just wonderfully weird creations! But your felted one is also cool especially with the glass eyes. And please tell your gnome, that social distancing is also important for him and his snail! ;)

    1. Thank you, Claire!
      Aren't Star's snails wonderful? :-D

      I'll tell Mr Gnome, but it's going to be hard as he'll and his pal will go living in my Steiff collection ...

  2. Mr Gnome and Schneggle are adorable! All of the tiny details are wonderful.

  3. OH I have to go check out Star's snails. Thanks for sharing that info. I adore your Schneggle-those eyes are so perfect for snails. Your Mr. Gnome is quite the character. I really love his feet. He is perfectly fine walking alongside Schneggle;-)

  4. Too stinkin' cute!! Needle-felting is totally not my thing (I tried, I failed, I gave all the supplies to my niece years ago) so I know how time-consuming these cuties were to make. I hate that your vision didn't turn out as you expected, but they're made and you did it! Awesome job.
    (Oh, and the link to Star's page doesn't work... :( just fyi)
    And, hey - release those two from the vase! They were meant to roam this world together!!! ;)

    1. Yeah, I'm an idiot. I had changed the link to go to her snail album on Flickr and left some extra letters in there by accident. It's workingn ow.

      Thank you, Hope! I'm used to my visions not working and am glad I made it - or should I say, they made it - in time, anyway.

      P.S. Here's Mr Gnome. Thank you, Hope! Can you believe that this woman moved us from the vase to the drawer and then forgot about us again!
      Thanks to you she just let us out!!

  5. Well, no offense to the very handsome Mr. Gnome with his fine cap and all, but that snail has stolen the show. Very adorable, both of them.

    1. Thank you, Tammy!
      Both of them blushed when they read this and they are sending you a virtual hug.

  6. When I got to the end I almost snorted coffee out of my nose.

    Oh , I am so glad this challenge resonated with you! I love everything you have done. Personally I like to think of Mr Gnome and Schneggle as companions. I am sorry the panther is harassing them! Perhaps a photo essay of them travelling your home while we are on isolation? They can still have adventures!

    Also - how cool about the glass eyes! Nice touch for Schneggle! Thank you all 3 for joining us!

    1. Thank you for the theme, Jenny, and I'm glad I could make you laugh :-D

      I love the idea of them having little adventures round the house!!

  7. I freaking LOVE this whole post! Don't worry Mr. Gnome - Cat has your safety as a priority! These are SO wonderful and I am delighted that you were able to work and get your brain focused onto other things these days... :)

    1. Thank you, Marsha!

      The two buddies made it to a safe place with a lot of other forest critters now. We'll see what Mr Gnome will have to say about that in a bit!

  8. I love that part of it was "written" by Mr. Gnome and his friend Schneggle. They are a good team. We all need to slow down during this period of isolation and Schneggle has talent in that direction. Mr Gnome has big hands that can hold onto the precious memories that they create together.

    1. You are so right, Linda, I love that thought, thank you for it! <3

  9. So cute! Although I think your snail steals the show!!

    1. Thank you so much, Sarajo! I better not tell Mr Gnome, though ;-)