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!


Random Saturday - Soap

It's Day 11 for me here in self-isolation (for those who don't know, I'm immunocompromised).
Gundel is tired of me wanting to smooch her all the time. Her look seems to say "DO something, something that doesn't involve me! Stop running after me!" That's cats for you.

These times definitely feel strange for all of us, strange and scary, and along with them come strange thoughts (and strange dreams which is the reason for me sitting here at 6 am writing a post about soap).
When I refilled one of my soap dispensers last night for example and checked how much soap I still had, it made me think of handmade soaps. I still remember the good times when postage from the US to Germany didn't cost an arm and a leg and I ordered one of my first handmade soaps from a shop on Etsy whose exact name I can't remember at the moment - although I'm almost sure it had the word "soap" in there ....

Anyhow, I wondered if I maybe still had some extra soap bar in the house and guess what, I do!
Nothing can go wrong now, can it?

If you wonder why I would have something like this, well, all I remember is that it was from a fleamarket stand in Esslingen maaaany years ago where we also got an old wooden Coca Cola crate for bottles. Collectors, eh? From what I could find about I'm thinking that this soap is probably from WW II or shortly after, but I couldn't find as much as I would have liked. I did finally end up in a wet shaving forum, so now I know that using vintage soap from the 1900s should be completely safe, and go for it if you find vintage aftershave as long as it still smells right!
As I said, nothing can go wrong now.