Retro-Style Paper Clay Snowman

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By General Crafts Contributor Michelle

Create your own snowman for the top of your tree, your mantle, or a centerpiece!

Bring some retro charm to your Christmas home this year with this whimsical paper clay snowman.   Follow the directions to make your own, one-of-a-kind, cheerful and glittery winter friend that stands nearly 18-inches high.

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Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:

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To begin, add a dab of hot glue onto the bottom of the largest, 4-inch Styrofoam ball, then carefully push the ball down onto the top of the paper cone.  Push it down firmly so the ball is sitting so the tip of the cone is about the very center of the inside of the ball.  You don’t want the ball just barely sitting on top.

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To begin making the base on which we’ll apply the clay to, begin crumpling and rolling your newspaper into long “snakes.”  Next, start wrapping and using hot glue to secure them around the “neck” area of your snowman to fill in the gap between the head and body.  You want your snowman to still have a bit of a neck, so don’t fill in the space so it is as wide as the base, we just want him to appear a bit more plump.

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Continue to wrap the snakes down the cone a bit to make your snowman’s body more cylindrical in shape, than cone-like.  Feel free to make him as plump as you like.

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Cut a length of wire about 18-inches long.  Place the wire on the edge of a sheet of newspaper, glue in place with hot glue, fold over the newspaper to cover up the ends of the wire, and then roll up the sheet of newspaper to form a tube around the wire, gluing as you go to secure.  Shape the ends as needed so they are rounded, these will be your snowman’s hands.

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Bend the tube into a “C” shape, and glue onto the back of your snowman at the shoulder region.  Bend the arms in such a manner that they curve out at the edge of the body, and the hands touch the body in the front.  We want gaps in the “elbow” area so your snowman can carry his Christmas treasures.  Be sure on one side to leave a gap about the size of a quarter, so the tree will fit through.

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Tear smaller strips of newspaper, and begin hot gluing them over the “coils” made from winding the newspaper “snakes” around the body.  We’re doing this to make a smoother surface to work on, and ultimately use less clay, as you won’t have so many gaps to fill in.  Don’t get too worried about how this looks, as it will be covered with clay, just focus on covering big gaps around the shoulder and armpit area, and any big gaps you may have between your newspaper snakes.  When you have covered your body, position the arms (leaving a large enough gap so he can carry things), and glue the hands to the front of the body, one overlapping the other .

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Next, to build the hat, cut a length of wire and bend it into a flat bottomed “U” shape.  Make the hat as tall or short, or as wide or narrow as you desire.  Add a dab of glue to the bottom of each end of the wire, and push the legs of the “U” into the top of your snowman’s head.  Add a little more glue around the base of each leg, if needed, to secure.  Make some balls of newspaper, and stuff them inside the “U” shape to fill out the hat, flatten the top, if desired.  Use hot glue to secure.  Then, wrap strips of newspaper around the whole hat, shaping as you go.

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Next, mix some of your paper clay with water, according to the directions on the package, and begin covering your snowman with a thin layer of clay.  Focus on covering all of your newspaper, and making smooth transitions in areas like where the arm connects to the body, and where the hat connects to the body.  Use enough clay to cover and make a smooth surface (1/4-inch is great), but don’t apply it way too thickly, as it will take a long time to dry.  Better to apply thinner layers, and do more than one, than making one thick layer that takes forever to dry.  Try to make a smooth-ish surface, but remember, this is a snowman made of lumpy snow, he shouldn’t be totally perfectly smooth.  I carefully rounded a thin layer of clay down around the entire bottom edge of the cone and up a 1/4-inch or so up the inside of the cone, pressing the whole snowman gently down a bit to smoosh that clay on the bottom and make sure my snowman didn’t  wobble.  It’s up to you if you want to do this, you could just work right up to the edge, instead of choosing to cover it, I just thought it made a nicer finished edge.

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Build up the arms some (remember to leave that gap between the arms and body), making them a bit broader toward the shoulders, and round the hands to look like a mitten shape, adding a tiny oval of clay onto the inside of the top hand to form a thumb.  (Refer to picture 15 for thumb position).

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To make the brim of your snowman’s hat, cut an oval or circle out of your cereal box in whatever size you want the brim to be, and then cut a slit up to the middle, and cut out the center until it fits fairly snugly around the bottom of your hat at the top of the head.  This is just a cut to fit deal, so cut, fit, adjust, fit, until it fits correctly.  You can adjust some for gaps with the clay, so it doesn’t have to be just a terrific fit.  Place the brim in place, and then cover all over with clay, rounding the edges of the brim.

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To form the cheeks of your snowman, roll two balls of clay about the size of a quarter. Stick them to the outer edges of the front of the snowman’s face, and gently press them around the edges to mold them onto the face.  Press the tops of them a bit to make them not quite as rounded.  Keep molding and pressing the edges until your cheeks look as plump or flat as you want them to be.  Make two “snakes” of clay about an inch long and press them onto the eyebrow area.  Just like the cheeks, press around the edges with your fingers to mold them to the face.  Roll a ball of clay whatever size you want the nose to be; mine was about the size of a small jelly bean.  Roll the ball into a little oval, and apply to the face like you did the cheeks, but don’t flatten it as much, it’s supposed to stick out more, since it’s a nose.

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Roll 3 balls of clay that are about nickel size, form them into ovals, and evenly stick them down the front of the body (I placed one of mine above the hands, and the other two below) to be coal buttons.  Press the edges onto the body, and as you do so, square up the sides to make them rectangle shape, and gently press the tops to flatten them.  These are lumps of coal, so they don’t have to be perfect, by any means.

Now it’s time to let your snowman dry.  I let mine dry a couple of hours on the table to begin to harden the clay, then I sped up the drying process by turning my oven down to the lowest setting (170 degrees), laying him on a middle oven rack, and letting him bake a couple hours until hard.  This is my method for drying the clay, if you choose to do this, do so at your own risk and do not leave it unattended.  If this method isn’t for you, you can turn your oven onto the lowest setting, let it fully heat, **TURN IT OFF**, and then carefully set your snowman in the **OFF** oven with the door shut for several hours.  (The paper clay package also has suggestions for drying the clay).  Depending on how thick your clay is, how wet your climate is, and the drying method you choose, your snowman could take from a few hours to a couple of days to dry.  Using my drying method, I finished building the snowman in one afternoon.  When your first layer of clay has dried, you can go over any areas you need to with a second layer of clay, and then repeat the drying process.  The second layer should dry much more quickly than the first.

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While your snowman is drying, cut some lengths of crepe paper streamer and lay them out on some newspaper.  Spritz the streamers with the distress stain spray to get a mottled green effect with speckles.  Let dry completely.

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Paint your entire snowman white.  Let dry.  Paint the hat black.  Let dry.

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Mix some white and red until you get a light pink color.  Paint a dime-sized circle of pink paint onto your snowman’s cheek.  Rinse your brush, and then begin gently rubbing the wet brush around the edge of the pink circle, in a circular motion, so the paint bleeds outward.  Use more water as needed to get a faded effect.  If the middle of the circle is too pink, blot it gently with your brush or a paper towel.  We want your snowman to look like he has rosy cheeks, not like he’s wearing way too much makeup.  While you have the red out, paint the snowman’s nose red, let it dry, and then give it a little curved stripe of white paint on the top right to be a reflection.

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Next, using a small round detail brush, make two small black circles for eyes.  Let dry.  Then, using the detail brush, place a tiny white dot in the right top of each eye to be the reflection in the snowman’s eyes.  Use your black to paint two thin eyebrows on the curved brow you formed, and then give your snowman a nice smile.

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Paint the mittens red, and the coal buttons black.

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When all the paint is dry, use a big flat brush to brush the white areas of your snowman with a thin layer of Elmer’s glue.  While the glue is wet, sprinkle with the ultra fine crystal glitter.  Don’t paint over his facial features, just the white areas around them.  Don’t try to glitter him all at once, start at the top and work down.  Glitter his mittens and coal buttons.  Let dry.

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Crinkle the streamers up accordion style, then using the hot glue, begin gluing them around the snowman’s neck at the lowest place you want the ruffle to be.  Glue one layer all the way around, then begin gluing the next layer right above the first, working up.  Glue ruffle layers until you are happy with how thick it is; mine is 4 layers.  Gently fluff the layers when done.

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Glue a length of ribbon around the hat for the band.  Glue a cluster of holly to the hatband.

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Remove the circular wooden base off of the bottom of the tree.  I did this by gently twisting as I tugged.  Push the end of the tree through the crook of the snowman’s arm, gluing to secure.  You’ll smoosh the bottom bristles of the tree some pressing them into the arm gap, but that’s okay, he’s supposed to be holding it.  Glue some glass balls to the tree by adding a dab of glue to the hanger end of the ball and up the sides of it a bit, then press the ball firmly into the bristles of the tree.  Cut the candy can chenille stems in half, and form each half into a candy cane shape by bending the end into a crook.  Pull the plastic string hangers off of the snowflakes, and then glue some snowflakes into the crook of the other arm.  Arrange candy canes amongst the snowflakes and tree, gluing as needed.

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Using a small brush, gently brush the edges of the paper neck ruffle with Elmer’s glue.  Sprinkle with the shredded gold glitter.  Let dry.

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Using your small brush again, brush the top of the hat, inside of the brim, end of the nose, the top of the arms, top of the tree, top of the candy canes, and anywhere else you want glitter “snow,” with Elmer’s glue.  Sprinkle the clear shaved ice glitter over the wet glue.  Let dry.

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Now stand back and admire your cute snowman decoration, as unique as any snowflake, and made just by you!

Happy Crafting!

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