My little gnomes are based on the 5 minute Wizards carved by Tom Hines. I added feet and a few details to make a simple little carving I could do as a demo at shows. They've been a popular and fun design for people to carve and I've had a few requests to post a tutorial on carving them, So here it is!
I start with a 3/4"x3/4" square of wood about 2 inches long, with the grain running vertically. A corner is used to make sure the nose projects as it should. I roughly draw in the brim of the hat, nose, and a rough outline of the beard. I leave about 1/4" on the bottom for the feet.
I start with a stop cut all the way around the brim of the hat. Any sharp knife will do, but I am using a utility knife with a fixed blade.
You can see that I am removing some pretty good size chips, rounding the shape of the head underneath the hat.
It resembles a cheesehead type hat at this point.
Now, I remove the corners and round the top of the hat to a cylinder shape, like a chef's hat. My other cuts were below the brim and these are above.
Once it is rounded, I start carving the hat to a point, like sharpening a pencil. I turn the carving to make it taper evenly. You can also make it taper to one side or make the tip fold over.
This hat ends up like a large Hershey's Kiss. I 've drawn the wings of the nose out a bit.
I take a wedge shaped cut from under the nose and from the top of the nose, slanting back to the forehead. I will round over the tip to make it more of a ball shape.
Here is a front view of the initial cuts on the nose.
I've rounded the tip off to a ball shape and angled up the sides a bit to make the wings of the nose. I've also re-drawn the lines that I will cut to shape the nose.
I cut around the lines for the nose and round off the wings. I've also thinned the bridge of the nose down a bit. I make a deep wedge shaped cut on either side of the nose, to create the shadowy impression of the eyes. That also forms the upper curved shape of the cheeks. I take a little curved cut out of each size to form the nostrils.
I draw in the cheeks like upside -down question marks and then sketch in the moustache. I take a few cuts of the sides of the face, to tuck it under the hat. But be sure to leave some wood there for hair.
I now cut off the front corner under the mouth and round that down all the way to the feet. You want a rounded mound for the mouth, but it doesn't stick out past the nose. Then I re-draw the moustache and other lines,
I've added a little bit of curve to the bottom of the beard and also penciled in a center line, to help with balancing the moustache.
I make stop cuts around the cheeks and moustache and then cut back to them. Then I round over the cheeks.
Then a stop cut to outline the beard and then cut back to that, just to define where it will be.
Now I draw in the hair and his arms. His hands will be going into his pockets.
The shoes slant back and his pants are dragging the ground in the back.
Here is a back view with my lines sketched in. I'm going to make his pants come up higher than this, so it looks like he has them pulled way up.
I've removed those corners from the arms and rounded them a bit. The pants pockets are defined with just a cut.
Here's a back view. There's enough wood to make some type of robe, but I'm going to cut all those corners off!
Like so. Now the bottom is rounded and all the corners are gone. There is nothing that would indicate that this was carved from a square block of wood. Carving on the corners doesn't mean you are supposed to end up with a squarish carving.
All rounded off.
I've drawn the shoes back in. These will be pointing to each side a bit. And I'll cut a little groove to indicate the pants legs.
This shoes how the shoes slant back a bit.
The seat of the pants is just three cuts in a shallow Y shape. And I've raised his waistline a bit.
Shoes cut in and rounded a bit.
Pants cut in and I tucked his shirt in.
Hands in his pocket.
And we're pretty much finished! You can go back and spend a little extra time cleaning up cuts and fuzzy bits now.
Try making a few deeper cuts in strategic places, to create deeper shadows.Like where the cheek, nose, and moustache intersect, make that little triangle deeper. Or where the eyes are or where the hair and beard meet over the shoulder.
Add some wrinkles to the shirt or pants. Or back pockets. Or a belt!
You can change these up in a variety of ways, with different hats, beards, clothes. And you get faster at carving them after you have did a few! And don't worry if it takes longer than five minutes, you just get to have more fun with it! I hope this will encourage and help you to give one a try.