Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Making Tomtes to celebrate my heritage during the holidays

While our family has a true multi-cultural background, a significant portion of my heritage is Swedish and Norwegian. 

For most of the year that has little influence in my family's life, but when Christmas rolls around that Scandinavian heritage suddenly becomes all-important. Or at least it is, if you base it on the lefse, sandbakkels and spritz cookies consumed in my house during the month of December.

I'm Betsy Skagen of Paper Calliope, and I decided to celebrate my Swedish heritage in a non-caloric manner by making some little tomtes. I experimented with two different media, CelluClay Instant Paper Mache and Lumina Air Dry Polymer Clay.

I did not start out with the intention of making two different kinds of tomtes, but someone who will be going on Santa's naughty list caused this to happen.  

First I hand formed the Tomtes with CelluClay Instant Paper Mache and let the clay dry overnight.

The nature of paper mache requires sanding. 

During the sanding process, I made the mistake of leaving them on the kitchen counter when I needed to go pick up my daughter from basketball. 

Boomer, the golden retriever puppy, does not discern food from non-food in what he eats.

Don't let the cute face fool you. He's guilty of tomte-cide.

Poor little tomtes--only a few survived.

Next I made tomtes from Lumina Air Dry Polymer Clay. They required no sanding.

I added a coat of gesso. After drying, I painted with pink and red acrylic paint.

I then added some vintage angel hair type material. (I think it is fiberglass insulation) Based on how my skin reacted to working with it, I'm pretty sure this must be some toxic substance now banned in all 50 states.

I don't think the description on the vintage packaging would be used today.

That's it. Thank you for stopping by today. Have a great day. - Betsy

Great Stuff I used
CelluClay Instant Paper Mache
Lumina Air Dry Polymer Clay
Red acrylic paint
Pink acrylic paint
Vintage angel hair


  1. these are so precious. Frustrated for you in your struggles, but the end result was awesome.

  2. These are adorable! I like to hear/see people's traditions. I like that we can still hold onto our heritage and be proud of where we came! I do beleive that our differences is what make us more interesting. Irish, African, German, Native American. We are all the same basic humans but different in our beginnnings, cultures and traditions. THANKS Betsy.

  3. These are super cute! On the caloric side, I'm still having some ostakaka . . .

  4. These are so cute, Betsy. TFS your traditions and heritage!