Without a doubt, we were not prepared for the enthusiastic reception the little gnome mushroom house on Bronner’s catalog cover received in 2021. In view of this, we’ve asked the creator, Chelle, to show you how you, too, can DIY your very own Gnome house! Moreover, we’re sharing an insider’s look behind the scenes at the creative process of Bronner’s design team when they create these iconic catalog covers.
First, We Gnome Back To The Beginning
We’re taking you back to the beginning with a peek into the creative process of Bronner’s 2021 Christmas Favorites catalog. And subsequently the creation of Chelle’s mushroom house. To do that, we want you to meet the 4-person design team responsible for bringing Bronner’s catalog to fruition. It consists of photographers Wayne Bronner (President) and Lauren. And layout designers Erin and Heather. (The design team also includes catalog coordinator Dietrich Bronner.)
Quick Q&A With Bronner’s Design Team
Q- How are ornaments featured on the cover chosen?
Each year, Bronner’s shoots three cover designs. Wayne explains that, watching trends of course, featured ornaments are selected based upon “sales potential”. Did you know that Bronner’s Christmas Favorites catalog always features an ornament on the cover, despite the fact that you will find a variety of items within it’s pages?! Additionally, the chosen ornaments are, more often than not, Bronner’s own exclusives!
Q- Once an ornament is chosen, what’s the creative process when designing the catalog cover?
Lauren answers, “After an ornament is chosen, then the brainstorming begins. The cover needs to be striking visually, but also allow the ornament to stand out and shine on its own. Depending on the ornament, I try to come up with a theme or color concept that fits well with the ornament, pulling inspiration from magazines or photos online. Once an overall idea is planned out, then we physically setup a scene to photograph with the ornament as the focal point. Sometimes the idea doesn’t get fully fleshed out until you can see it all together through the lens.”
Q- Do you have a question for our catalog design team? Let us know in the comments below.
Handmade Gnome House
Gnome house designer Chelle says, “Working with clay is very relaxing. I am not a professional. I enjoy creating fun objects and I do it for my own pleasure. It’s very flattering to have one of my creations appear on the cover of Bronner’s catalog.”
The gnome house idea came in a pinch when the team was looking for Gnome accessories to feature alongside Bronner’s annual ornament. Chelle went home that very night, and working from an inspiration photo Lauren gave her, crafted this fun-gi! I asked Chelle if the tight deadline made her otherwise relaxing hobby stressful, to which she said, “not at all!”
And if I am being honest, I wanted to abandon my post at the camera and start sculpting right along with her because it does look incredibly relaxing and fun to craft a whimsical gnome house!
DIY Gnome Mushroom House Tutorial
DIY Gnome House
- Polymer Baking Clay White, Light Brown & Dark Brown
- Aluminum Foil Optional
- Acrylic Paints Red, Black & White
- To start, condition the clay by rolling it out with an acrylic roller and kneading it by hand for a few minutes. As a result, the clay becomes more malleable easier to work with. Alternatively, you can use use a clay press.
- As a result of using aluminum foil for filler, your gnome house will require less clay and therefore baking time. If using, create a cone shape, resembling a mushroom stem, with a flat base.
- Work in layers, according to desired thickness, to completely cover the aluminum foil with clay, keeping the base flat. Patiently shape and smooth until you are happy with the stalk.
- Next, working with a conditioned piece of clay, shape and smooth the mushroom cap. Create a small divot on the underside so that the cap lays flush on the mushroom stalk. If you choose to use additional clay for color, as opposed to painting, layer the top of your cap with a thin piece of red clay. Furthermore, you may wish to create mushroom gills on the underside of the mushroom cap with a flat-edged tool or knife.Mount the cap on to the stalk, working to seal the seams between the two adjoining parts.
- In the same fashion, with a small piece of clay, shape and attach a small dormer window to your mushroom cap.
- Follow steps 1-5, making a smaller mushroom which will be connected to the stalk of your first mushroom.
- To make the door, condition a small piece of light brown clay. Roll it out and then shape it in to a small arch. Using clay tools, or a toothpick, carve out door details and then affix to the mushroom stem.
- Next, working with dark brown clay, roll two tiny balls for doorknobs. Press down slightly onto the doors. In similar fashion, roll and flatten out two more circles to carve out heart windows for the doors.
- Using a clay baking oven or your regular oven, bake the sculpture at a low temperature. Baking time will vary, of course, depending on your piece. For bigger items, such as this gnome mushroom house, Chelle bakes at 275°.
Baking Tips From Chelle
- Bake 30 minutes per quarter-inch thickness.
- Thicker pieces are suggested to bake for 15 minutes initially. Followed by 5-minute increments. (The clay needs 15 minutes to properly cure.)
- If you opted to build your gnome mushroom house from white clay, once your piece has baked and fully, cooled, paint details. Basic acrylic paints work well.
Once cooled, paint your gnome mushroom house any way you wish! We added a few mica flakes to our newest home for an extra whimsical touch.
So Much Gnome to Love At Bronner’s!
This DIY gnome house is the perfect accessory to Jim Shore’s gnome collection.
Go Big Or Go Gnome
By the same token, Bronner’s features a fun selection of gnome items, in-store, that you’re sure to love! Here are a few of our top picks:
Every Home Needs A Gnome …
If you loved this DIY, you’ll surely feel ☘️lucky☘️ with our DIY St. Patrick’s Day Sock Gnome Leprechaun tutorial!