How to create garden gnomes

Rumour has it that garden gnomes will make your flowers grow faster, your fruit ripen more quickly and your vegetables grow to enormous sizes. While there's no proof for any of these assertions, there's no denying that the little garden ornaments bring a touch of whimsy to your lawn or garden. They originated in the Bavarian region of Germany in the late 18th century. In 1847, Sir Charles Isham of Northamptonshire, ordered 21 garden gnomes for his gardens at Lamport Hall. Lampy, the sole survivor of Lord Isham's collection, has been insured by his descendants for more than a million pounds. You can cast your own garden gnomes in concrete or resin for considerably less than that.

Make the gnome mould

Sculpt a garden gnome from the clay and bake it following packet directions on the clay. This will be the model for your mould. You can also choose to use a purchased garden gnome as your original model if you don't want to make your own design.

Stand the gnome in the centre of the plastic covered board, securing it with a drop of instant bond glue. Don't overdo it with the glue. You'll want to be able to remove the gnome later.

Cut a piece of PVC pipe that is at least 5 cm (2 inches) taller than your gnome.

Spray the inside of the pipe and the garden gnome model with vegetable oil cooking spray or a commercial mould release product.

Place the pipe over the model, arranging it so that there is about 6.5 mm (1/4 inch) of space between the gnome and the wall of the pipe.

Roll a coil of modelling clay and press it firmly around the outside bottom of the pipe to seal the seam between the pipe and the board surface.

Mix the liquid silicon or latex according to the packet directions.

Carefully pour the mixture into the pipe until it is just below the top of the mould. Pour to the side of the figurine rather than directly over it so that the liquid fills any undercuts or holes in the figure.

Allow the mould to cure according to the packet directions. Some quick curing mould compounds will be ready in a few hours. Others may need to sit overnight.

Remove the coil of clay from around the bottom of the pipe. Slide the pipe off of the mould and carefully peel the mould off the plastic base.

Carefully cut the mould in half with a sharp knife, following the outline of the figure inside. Remove the original model from the centre.

Cast the gnome

Spray the faces of both halves of the mould with mould release or vegetable oil cooking spray.

Carefully align the two halves so that they match up. Wrap the outside with cheesecloth or a sheet of paper, then wrap duct tape around them to hold them together.

Mix one part portland cement with one part sand in a plastic bucket or tub.

Slowly add water while stirring the mixture until it is about the consistency of heavy pancake batter.

Stand the mould on a flat, level surface with the opening facing up. Carefully and slowly pour the cement mixture into the mould until it reaches the top.

Set the filled mould in a warm place to harden overnight.

Cut through and remove the tape and cheesecloth. Carefully separate the two halves of the mould and remove your concrete garden gnome.

Paint and detail your gnome as desired.


Use the same procedure to cast a garden gnome from resin, following the packet directions to mix the resin.

Things You'll Need

  • Polymer oven clay
  • Plastic covered board
  • 10 cm (4 inch) diameter PVC pipe
  • Instant glue
  • Pourable liquid latex or silicon
  • Sharp knife
  • Spray vegetable oil
  • Cheesecloth or paper
  • Duct tape
  • White portland cement
  • Play sand
  • Plastic tub
  • Mixing stick
  • Paints
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About the Author

Deb Powers is an avid urban gardener who works with a community collective to promote sustainable urban agriculture and build partnerships between local business owners and community organizations. Powers serves as a social media and marketing consultant for local non-profits and businesses, and is collaborating with a coffee roaster to publish a cookbook highlighting coffee as a culinary ingredient.