Make one elf or 100 elves as Christmas favors! This clay tutorial for creating these expressive elves has been translated to English based on step-by-step instructions written by Sandra Gomez and originally posted as 'Duendes Magicos' at Manualidades y Artesanias | utilisima.com
Materials used include:
Acrylic paint, red, flesh, green, blue, black and white
Styrofoam balls No. 3 and 4
Pre-tint** enough clay with the acrylic paints to make:
Red body, shoes and hat,
flesh-colored head and hands, and
a small amount for green stripes and buttons.
Begin with making the elf shoes......
1. To make the shoes, create a cone shape with some red clay. Estimate the size based on the size of the foam balls you will use for body.
2. Press the base of cone to form the heel. Curl the thinnest end back on itself to form the toe.
3. Create 2 long cylinders of white clay for the legs. Fold legs in middle to form the knee joint and position as shown below.
4. Attach the legs to shoes as shown below.
5. Place the legs on a base of your choice. See photo in step 7 for positioning.
Optional: Carve an expanded polystyrene base into an irregular shape. Texture the base and paint it green.
6. To form the elf's body, embed a No. 3 Styrofoam ball in red clay. Start with a ball of clay about the same size as the foam ball and wrap it around being careful not to trap any air. Create a pear-shaped body by extending the clay at one end (shape as shown in step 7).
7. Glue the body onto the legs in position shown below.
8. Start with 2 cylinders of white clay to model the arms. Roll some green clay into a thin strip and cut some green stripes from it. Wrap arm cylinders with green stripes as shown below. Use glue to attach.
Fold arms in middle to form the elbow joint and set aside for now.
9. Model hands with flesh tone clay. Use scissors or a modeling tool to separate the thumb and mark 3 fingers. Make 2 hands and glue them onto end of each arm.
Attach arms to body, resting hands on legs as shown below.
Make a small ball of white and attach to neck area for collar, pressing down to flatten a little.
Insert a toothpick or wire in neck (for supporting the head).
10. For head, cover a No. 4 Styrofoam ball with flesh colored clay using the same method as step 6 except maintaining roundness.
With a modeling tool, give expression to the mouth. (or imprint a smile with a circle cutter)
Attach a round ball of flesh-colored clay for nose.
Form 2 teardrops of flesh-colored clay for the ears. Apply to side of head and use modeling tool to dimple the ears, using photo as example.
Use toothpick to make a hole in bottom of head to attach to neck but let head dry before painting eyes with acrylic paints (or apply a pair of water-slide eye decals).
11. Make the cap from an elongated cone of red clay. Hollow out the base to fit elf's head. Add ear flaps if desired.
12. Glue the head to the body and place the cap on it.
Mark different folds with modeling tool, giving motion to the cap and curl the tip.
Use small balls of green clay for buttons. Press onto body using modeling tool. Mark a couple of buttonholes with needle tool.
There! You're done!
Make some more elves sitting in different positions or with different expressions.....or make them in many different colors for lots of occasions.
Below they are shown with little name signs as placeholders for a Christmas dinner party. Note that candy canes, holly and other festive icons have been added.
**Update: Using cake decorator colorants (such as Wilton Set of 8 Icing Colors or AmeriColor #1 Color Kit Soft Gel Paste Food Color, 12 Pack ) might give you a brighter red or green than using acrylic paints to pre-tint clay. I also think it's less messy than using paints to pre-tint. However, if you don't have any of the paste colorants, artist acrylics will give you stronger color than craft paints because they contain more pigment.