Monday, March 14, 2011

Top o' the Mornin' Final, Part 3



D. R. McAnally in his 1888 book Irish Wonders describes a Leprechaun:  ‘He is a diminutive of size, about three feet high, and dressed in a little red jacket or roundabout, with red breaches buckled at the knee, grey or black stockings, and a hat cocked in a style of a century ago, over a little old withered face.  Round his neck is an Elizabethan ruff, and frills of lace are at his wrists.’ 
The Leprechaun we often see depicted now is a bit different; he is dressed mostly in green with a bowler style hat of the same color and has a red beard.  All seem to agree that he is a shoemaker and when working wears a leather apron.
So we do have some leeway with our choice of Leprechauns and their clothing.  
Years ago I “fell in love with” a strange little pose-able Mattel figure from the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone series…Griphook, The Gringotts Goblin.  I have used him several times in different miniature settings.  His face is so like the 1892 Leprechaun illustration by British illustrator John D. Batten (1860-1932) that I knew I would be using him for my shoemaker…even knowing it meant that those of you who chose to do the same would have a hunt on your hands.  Griphook’s are out there, quite often on eBay, still in their original boxes.


For the transformation I first antiqued the skin with a half and half mixture of Delta Gel Medium and Dark Brown Acrylic, using brushes and QTips to remove the medium until the desired aging was reached.  Next I applied pink and red Pastel Chalks with a soft brush to the nose, cheeks, ears, forehead, lips, chin and tops o hands, slightly blending into the surrounding skin.  The coat & tie were painted green; the pants a flat black; buckles and all buttons, a metallic silver.  A red-orange bunka-type cording was pulled until it frizzed and.  It was glue in small segments to cover the painted hair and to form side burns.  If desired a beard of the same material would be an appropriate addition.

 An apron was cut of soft cotton material that had been tinted with a watered down version of the brown antiquing mixture used above. Fine leather cording was used for the neck side straps.  You may choose to make your apron of fine glove leather.  Cut your chosen material on the fold.  With a tacky glue, turn back a 1/16” or so hem all around, clipping the corners as you go.  Do the same with the pocket. Glue the pocket to the apron, bottom and side edges even.  Use a pointed toothpick  to run a thin line of glue down the center of the backside of the pocket and press to apron; do the same with the side pockets.  Cut apron ties, longer than you think you will need from thin leather cording or ribbon and glue to apron for neck ties and for waist ties.  After the apron is tied on your Leprechaun you can cut off excess lengths of ties.  The apron patter is simple and can be adjusted for any size Leprechaun.    Make an extra apron to hang on the wall.

Click on pattern to enlarge.  Copy and paste to your computer.  Set printer to print at actual/exact size or 2.73"w x 2.28"h


Of course you will need a pot of gold in your scene because this is where the Leprechaun stores the coins he earns from cobbling for the fairies.   The gold is said to be found at the end of a rainbow and, if certain criteria is meant, one may steal the pot…but the Leprechaun is wily and will try to prevent this….and who can blame him as he is very industrious and works hard to fill his pots of gold. 

The pot I used here came in the package with my Leprechaun but just about any large pot or cauldron will work here.  I aged mine a bit by dry brushing first with matt black acrylic and then lightly with a rust color.  The pot was filled with crumpled aluminum foil wrapped in thinner gold foil.  Then I punched various sizes of rounds from solid gold cardstock and used these to top the gold foil(using glue) and to sprinkle around the base of the pot.

  Click on rainbows; copy and paste to your computer.  Print to size desired.

 If you would like a rainbow make copies of the rainbow printies; cut out and glue together, back to back, trimming for a perfect match if necessary.  Use quality glue stick for adhering.  When glue has set, lightly curve the rainbow so that it flows out and away from the pot of gold and the end touches on itself.


Of course you need a way to get up to the Pot of Gold.
Of course to get to his pot of gold our Leprechaun needs a ladder.  I used 3/32” thick  bamboo skewers because of its strength but ordinary dowel will work fine.  Cut two rails 6” long and 10 rungs 1 5/8” long.  Paint and stain all pieces for a dark wood look. Working a on piece of waxed paper tape the two rungs down 1-5/8” apart from each other, ends flush.  Measure and mark 10 lines on the rails ½” apart, starting ½ up from their bottom.  Glue the rungs between the rails, each centered on a marked line.  For added strength ad just a tiny drop of Krazy glue to each join. When glues are set carefully pull ladder from paper. 

For added interest I used very thin coils snipped from a full sized grapevine wreath to wrap around the rails.  Soaking the coils a bit beforehand helps with the process.  You could also use a thing twist of floral tape.  The top tips of the rails were adorned with a tiny pinecone of sorts (another “bottom of the potpourri” find).



The shoes are made from Plaster of Paris using a push mold (available at craft stores and ).  Follow the directions on the Plaster of Paris box for working with molds and pour the 4 feet only.  Stir the plaster and water slowly to prevent bubbles and if they form blow on them to remove.  Fill the molds just a bit over the top and when the plaster has set a bit use a something rigid like a credit card to scrape across top of mold to removed excess plaster. When plaster has cured (it doesn’t take long) push feet out of mold.  If you would like higher shoes drop on a bit of the prepared plaster on the ankle of the foot, or for a turned up toe to the end of the top of the foot.…see picture.  When the plaster has dried completely use knifes, files, sandpaper, a Dremel Tool, and what have you to carve out the inside of the shoe, shape the outside to a pointed toe, add a cuff and otherwise play cobbler. 

When all is as you want paint the shoe with acrylics or water colors…plain colors for most elves & anything goes for the fairies… a top coat of metallic or pearlized or glitter nail polish (there are so many wild colors to choose from...check $stores for good values) adds fun.  Get out your finest glitter, tiniest no-hole beads, paper punches, metallic papers, sequins, etc. and have fun…decorating the shoes is like they say about peanuts “you can’t stop at one”.   And speaking of just one…the great part is you don’t need (unless you choose to) to make a matching pair of shoes because, as everyone knows,  Leprechauns only make one shoe of a kind at a time because fairies just wear out one at a time and the left and right shoes are the same.



The shoe form consists of 4 parts:  a ½” punched round of black cardstock topped & centered by a piece from a pocket sized chess set (one can often find these at 2nd hand stores and them have many mini uses), with a plaster foot on top ( made from the mold as described above and shaped as seen).  This assembly is painted a flat black and when dry lightly dry-brushed with rust colored acrylic.  This assembly is glued, centered on a ¾” square piece of ¼” thick balsa (or other scrap wood) wood which has been stained a medium brown.  On the exposed edge of the paper circle four evenly spaced holes, were poked thru the paper and into the wood.  Tiny (3/32”) nails/brads were poked into the holes with a bit of glue.

The Left Wall

Hanging on the left wall is an extra cobbler's apron.  Under is a redo of a purchased barrel filled with rolls of leather.  Next to it is a simple box made from rectangle Woodsies with paper lace hardware; more leather rolls are on and next to it.  I kept this space simple but there are certainly more fun items that could be placed here, for instance a jug of poteen, a hat, & leather pouches.

The End

I had hoped to get this third part of the project up sooner but you know how real life  tends to interfere, esp when you are deep into a project, and it seems like this last week was a good example of this for for me...but I guess we all have to take time out to "de-cobweb" now and then ...and I did, in both my home and my mind.
If you make this project in whole or part do let me know...and I love photos, they energize me.

I am now engrossed in dreaming up an Easter vignette for you which I hope will turn my mind to spring rather than this eternal rain and wind that will just not stop....everyone knows that PNW natives have webbed feet but I feel like I may be growing gills too.  My new mantra is "Rain, rain go away, (not so little) Joann wants to play".

So, I do hope your mornings are the "tops", as well as the rest of your days. Have a fun St. Pat' Day, and if you forget to wear green, feel yourself pinched!!!



  1. Just adorable! And doable-thanks to you and your great instructions.
    I am now on the search for my leprechaun!
    Thanks again!

  2. Totally inspiring. Thank you so much

  3. Many thanks for another wonderful project

  4. What a fantastic blog Joann. I am so glad to have found you. Your projects are fantastic, thank you for sharing them. The problem is going to be fitting the rest of my life around all the new things you have inspired me to make. Wonderful. I look forward to following you from now on. Best wishes, Carol :)

  5. I am truly amaze with how you guys create such superb minis like these! It's fun to see such great work of art!

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  6. Wow, so much information. What fun. I will have to come back to read everything. I am now a follower. Thanks for such a fun blog. Susan