Gnome More Sad Faces
What’s up gnomies! I’ve got a fun project to show you today. At least it was fun for me. Do you have any garden gnomes hanging around your yard looking a little faded? Let’s add some bright attitude back to these playful decorations with a little paint. That’s right, I’m showing you how I restored these hand-painted garden gnomes to give these antique men a fresh look.
Also, be prepared for some serious gnome puns throughout the post.
This post is a part of the Less Is More Thrifty Thursday series where our group of designers shows you ways to make the most of thrift, repurposed, and dollar store decor. Make sure to check out the links to their projects at the end of this post.
The Story Of These Little Men
I was recently gifted these 2 garden gnomes from my Grandma as she was cleaning up the house. She knows that I have a collection of gnomes throughout my backyard. I tuck them into various spots under bushes, behind trees, and between flower pots. It’s amusing to come across ones peeking through the greenery as the summer days get longer.
What’s special about these antique gnomes is a memory I have of them. They may not look like much but I remember watching my Grandpa paint these. I can’t recall if he was doing touch-ups because they had faded once before, or if they came without colour and he was brightening them up. They sat in the window sill of their front living room for years, tucked behind a coffee table. I would sneak behind that table which was covered in houseplants plants to admire the little gnome men my Grandpa had hand-painted.
My Grandpa has since past away, which is one of the reasons why my Grandma has been downsizing her belongings. I am glad I got these antique gnomes. They were needing some attention, and I wanted to do a good job to make my Grandpa proud.
The Prep Process
The paint was not only fading but also chipping off the garden gnomes. The first thing I did, and what you should do too, to clean them up is to use a soft bristle brush on them. Gently brush off all the loose and chipping paint. You could use a toothbrush or a vegetable brush.
After that, I used a diluted mix of soapy water and a microfibre cloth to give the gnomes a could cleaning. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. You want to get all the loose and stuck on dirt off them. This way you’ll have gnome regrets when your busy painting. Your canvas will be clean.
Next Step: Paint
Hey! Did you hear about the gnome that got baked? He could finally hold his head up high!
Speaking of heads, you may want to take some extra time to make the face a blank slate. What I mean is, paint over the face details in a white or skin tone of your choosing. This way you can see the facial details that the previous paint job may not have emphasized. Depending on where you got your gnomes, some store-bought ones can have funny eye placements. But the mold for the gnome has the eyes shaped perfectly.
While you are checking out the face details, look over the rest of your gnomes for any details you’d like to highlight. When I did this, I discovered that there was a feather in one gnome’s hat! And what I thought was a lunch box in the others’ hand, was actually a lantern. So be sure to give these areas extra attention when you start painting them.
Painting Your Garden Gnomes
Most garden gnomes are brightly colored. I have seen some pretty cute theme ideas on Pinterest you could paint your little men too. I stuck with colors that you can find in my yard decor, a turquoise blue, brick red, sunshine yellow, and vibrant purple.
Take your time, and use a few brush sizes. I used 3 art brushes: a flat brush, a regular brush, and a fine brush.
Start by painting larger surface colors. So this will be the color for the pants, shirt, and hat of your gnomes. Don’t worry about details yet. I used the flat brush for more coverage.
Next, you’re going to paint the skin tone areas. If you haven’t already, then turn your gnomes face into a blank slate like I discussed earlier.
Now you can start painting any accessories and going for detail. The faces will take some time and patience. Follow the curves built into your gnome. On mine, the lips took a lot of work to look natural.
Add shadows in the creases of the clothing, a sparkle to the eyes, wisps of grey to the beards, and outline the fingers if you choose.
These details are what will take the longest, but they will really bring your garden gnome to life, gnome sayin’?
Here is how my restored antique hand-painted garden gnomes turned out:
Whole New Gnome
These hand-painted garden gnomes look so different from what they started as! I hope this inspired you to give your gnomes a fresh coat of paint to restore them instead of tossing them out. And maybe give the ugly ducklings at the thrift store a second chance at life by taking them to your gnome sweet gnome. It’s also a good idea to cover them in a clear lacquer for protection. I used Beauti-tones Indoor/Outdoor clear lacquer in a spray can.
Before you go, check out these ideas from my fellow designers in the Less Is More series.
Junette @ Windmill & Protea: Kitchen Countertop Transformation Using Vinyl
Jaclyn @ One Thousand Oaks: DIY Wooden Spoon Display For The Kitchen
Thanks for stopping by!