A few months ago I wrote a tutorial on one of my favourite creations, the Tooth Fairy House, which I loved making. I decided to challenge myself to another little house, but this time I went with a more natural theme. We have all seen some beautiful toadstool fairy houses all over the internet, and they really are fantastic, but I thought, “what else would a fairy or gnome collect in order to create their house?”. I reasoned that an old, discarded leather boot would make a very cosy habitat for these lovely creatures, so I went to work!
This tutorial is a little more intricate than some of my other tutorials, so although it is by no means expert I would suggest trying some of my beginner tutorials before this one if you have no experience in using polymer clay. Other than that, I hope you enjoy!
What you’ll need:
- Polymer clay (dark brown, light brown, light yellow, a few shades of green, red, white, beige, bright purple, bright pink, black)
- Cutting tool
- Rolling tool
- Aluminium foil
- Dried moss
- Liquid clay
- Strong craft glue
- Pin or needle
- Varnish (I use regular Fimo gloss)
- A small paintbrush
- Two or three real leaves of different sizes
- An oven
- A very clean surface
Begin by crunching up some foil and slowly building up a very basic shoe shape. Make the top a little longer than it needs to be for a realistic boot, because it will also hold the beginning of the roof. Mine is approximately 4 inches tall, but you can go with whatever measurements suit you! Just remember that the smaller you make it, the more difficult the more intricate details will be to make later.
Roll out a large sheet of dark brown clay, at around 1cm all over. Cover all of the foil, leaving around one inch at the top and also the main part of the sole. Now draw a faint rectangle shape on the neck of the boot (like the photo above) and pinch the sides gently, so that it gives the impression of the tongue of the boot. Add some more clay to the heel and blend it with the rest of the clay, so that the boot stands up fairly evenly.
Using the inch of foil you left at the top earlier, mould some more foil around it to act as the roof. I added extra height so that I could hold it easier, which I snipped off later, but that is optional.
Roll out a sheet of black clay, again at around one inch, and mould it around the sole of the boot. Cut off the excess and keep the line between the black and brown clay as straight as possible. It doesn’t need to be perfect because some of it is going to be covered later, and besides, it’s supposed to look rustic!
Take a handful of foil and scrunch it up. Press all over the brown clay, occasionally scraping gently. This just helps to add a slight leather effect.
Roll out sheets of your different shades of green and press in your leaves. Gently press over it using your rolling tool, then peel the leaf off. Cut around the leaf. You want the indents of the real leaf to stay on the clay. Repeat until you have lots of leaf shapes, then cover the roof. Be careful not to leave any gaps. Press the leaves together so that they are secure. Snip off the excess foil at the top and carry on placing the leaves until the roof is completely covered and no foil is visible over the entire structure.
Now take your light brown clay and roll out some relatively thin snake shapes. Press them onto your seems: where the “leather” connects with the sole, and around the tongue. Take your dotting tool or ball tool and press lots of even dots all over.
I decided to place my door on the toe of the shoe. I didn’t take an exact measurement, I just made a rough sketch of the shape onto some rolled out light brown clay and held it up in front of the boot to make sure it would fit right. I then cut it out and used my cutting tool to score some shallow, even lines to give the effect of panels. I used my pin to quickly draw some squiggly lines which faintly resemble a wood texture.
Next, twist up a ball of black clay with some white and yellow, just enough for it to give a marble-type appearance but not to that it blended completely. Form some small, irregular pebble shapes and stick them all around the door shape. Use some dots of liquid clay to keep them secure.
Use some more liquid clay to attach the door onto the front of the shoe, then attach a small, slightly flattened ball of black clay for the “doorknob”.
Take six small balls of black clay and flatten them a little, then poke a neat hole with your dotting tool into the centre of each. Using the lines you created around the tongue as a guide, place three on each side using liquid clay. Place them as evenly as possible, using the photo above as a guide.
Roll out a long, thin snake shape of yellow clay. Beginning at the bottom two holes, press the yellow clay gently so that it meets to the opposite diagonal hole, continuing until they reach the top two and very carefully form a loose bow shape. Trim off the excess and use very small dots of liquid clay to keep it all in place.
Now for the windows. Twist together some vibrant colours (I used purple, pink and green) until they resemble a kind of tie-dye effect. Do not blend the colour too much. Now roll it out and cut out a circle. Mix some light brown clay with a very small amount of black clay- not so that it blends completely, but so that there are specks of black within the brown clay. Roll this out and, using the colourful circle as a guide, cut out a hollow circle which can then be placed around the vibrant one to give the appearance of wooden panels framing the “window”. Again, use your cutting tool to draw a few faint, even lines to further show the panels and use your pin to add a wood texture. Stick the panels onto the window and the window onto the side of the boot using liquid clay.
Repeat step twelve, but this time making a larger, rectangular window. Stick this onto the roof with liquid clay.
Now for the really fiddly bit. Use the same brown/black mixture that you used for the panels to cut out a flat rectangle shape. Keep it approximately 1 cm thick all over to keep it as durable as possible. Roll out a long, thin snake shape of the same clay and cut off a few shore pieces, then press them onto the sides of the rectangle so that they hold up the bannister. Now take two more long snake shapes and twist them together, making sure it is long enough to wrap around the two sides and the front of the balcony. Balance this twisted piece onto the small sticking-up bits you just created. Press them down slightly and use dots of liquid clay to keep it as secure as possible. It will still be delicate, but not ridiculously so.
I know this step is a little confusing, so if I haven’t explained it well enough, please just use the photo above as a guide!
Bake the whole balcony in the oven (at gas mark 4 or 180 degrees Celsius) until hard, which should take approximately 20 minutes. Leave to cool at one side.
Using some light yellow clay, create a basic rose by flattening lots of small balls, wrapping the first “petal” into an upright spiral, then wrap each new one around, overlapping the last one slightly. Use your fingertips to very gently spread open the petals, then cut off the excess at the bottom of the flower. Attach this to the front, right side of the roof by pressing the bottom on gently and then adding some liquid clay on top. Don’t worry if the join is a little messy as it will be covered with moss later, anyway.
Repeat step fifteen, but this time forming two smaller roses which you will then attach to the bottom of each side of the door using liquid clay.
Your balcony should be hard and cool by now. Take a ball of red clay and attach it to the middle of the balcony. Now take another ball of red clay and imagine a horizontal line going around the centre, then follow that line and squeeze between your fingertips. This will be the start of your gnome’s floppy hat. Now very carefully bring the top of the hat up into a point, then twist it into a little spiral shape. Connect a small oval shaped piece of beige clay to the bottom the hat to act as the nose. Again, this is difficult to explain, so please try to copy the photo above!
Flatten some very small balls of white clay and press them evenly over the “hat”.
This part requires quite a bit of patience. You need to attach the balcony to the front of the house, below the window. Push it on with some light brown clay, then carefully build it up so that it feels fairly secure, and the “join” is completely covered in clay, including the underneath. Add as much as you think you need- this will look ugly for now, but it’ll be covered with moss later.
Using your light brown clay, roll out two very long, thin pieces which you will then twist together, like you did earlier for the bannisters. Cut out two longer pieces of “rope” using this twisted clay, and hold it up to the side of the balcony to make sure it is the correct length. Cut out four shorter pieces, placing them horizontally so that they attach the two longer pieces and look like a rope ladder. Attach it to the balcony using some more clay and liquid clay.
Bake everything in the oven until hard. This should take approximately 40 minutes on gas mark 4 or 180 degrees Celsius. Check on it every ten minutes to check that the heat isn’t causing any discolouration or burning!
Once cooled, glue your moss on with the strong craft glue. I added it around the rectangular window, covered the joins between the balcony and roof, and the balcony and the ladder. I then stuck it around the back of the larger rose, trailing it down and around some of the circular window. I also put it behind the two smaller roses and trailed it up a small part of the door.
Wait for the glue to dry completely. Apply a coat of varnish over all of the clay (using a small brush to get into every little nook), again leave it to dry and then it’s finished! Yay!
Thank you for reading!
I know this tutorial was a little long-winded, but I was satisfied with how my house turned out and I hope you can all enjoy making your own!
Please check out the rest of my site for more craft tutorials, and feel free to share them with any friends you think might be interested.
Have a magical day!