Lately, Charlina Hurt has been feeling that a home is not a home without a gnome.
Hurt, 54, of Cedar Rapids, started creating decorative gnomes in January, right after Christmas.
“I saw a picture of one somewhere and I thought to myself, ‘I could do that.’ I just thought it looked like fun,” she said.
A day-care provider by day, Hurt uses her time in the evenings and on the weekends to work on her gnome creations.
“Now I really enjoy doing it and it helps me make a little extra money that I’ll put toward camping in the coming months,” Hurt said.
A hobby enthusiast and DIY maven by nature, Hurt said the gnomes are the latest venture in a long-line of creative interests. She has created so many that Hurt has started to sell her creations through her Facebook page and on Facebook Marketplace, even shipping gnomes to California, Maryland, Texas and Colorado. While times are challenging now — as a daycare provider Hurt is not allowing other individuals into her home — she said being able to accept payment via Venmo and PayPal and leaving the purchased gnomes on the front porch for pickup has worked out really well.
“I take pictures from every angle of the completed gnome to send to my customers for them to approve before they buy it,” she said.
The current pandemic situation also has forced her to get creative with the actual gnome construction.
“I was using rice to weigh down the gnomes but that is hard to come by right now so I’ve started using no clump feathers,” she said. “We’ve all seen how we have to change things up when something like this happens.
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“Making these gnomes takes me to a happier place. It helps keep my mind off things, especially these days. I’ve always had difficult situations in my life and used my creativity to escape. As a little girl I can remember making dollhouses out of shoe boxes. It’s my mental release.”
Hurt said she started small with her new hobby and each week started challenging her creativity and artistic skills with new ideas.
“I’ve always had a good imagination,” she said. “I don’t use a pattern at all. An idea will just pop into my head and I’ll get to work.”
The only tutorial she relied on was a video online on how to make her own gnome shoes. “They actually start out as a ping pong ball and a film canister.”
“Each gnome I create has its own personality,” she said. “I never really know what they are going to look like when I start out. And it’s fun to see how far my brain can take me.”
Holidays provide lots of inspiration. Hurt just finished up creating St. Patrick’s Day gnomes and now the Easter gnomes are cropping up.
“Because I can make so many different styles with these I think this hobby will stick around for a while. I already have ideas for fall gnomes,” she said.
Hurt said she also takes special orders. She’s created a nurse, a Mickey Mouse and a fisherman among others.
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“The most difficult one I’ve made was a scuba diver gnome. I even created the mask and tanks.”
Sports teams also are a popular request, she said.
“When you start a hobby like this you imagine everything as a gnome,” Hurt said, laughing. “I might see a coat with a fur collar and think it would make a great beard. You getting addicted to creating these.”
The gnomes, which range in height from 9 inches for her small sitting gnomes to anywhere from 13 to 26 inches for standing gnomes, also require varying amounts of time to complete.
“It all depends on how intricate it is and how much detail is going into the gnome,” Hurt said. “On weekends I can make two of the 26-inch gnomes. If I’m doing a simpler, smaller gnome I can do four in one day.”
Hurt also makes small gnome magnets and what she calls “flower pot gnomes” which are great for desks. “They just make me smile and I hope they make others smile, too.”
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