Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Elephant No. 29: Upcycled Pop Bottle

I've seen this technique several times, mostly to make upcycled flowers for jewellery. To get a general idea of how it works, click here to see the tutorial I used for inspiration.

I couldn't find a tutorial showing how to make elephants—or any other kind of animal—so this was going to be an experiment. My main fear was that I'd accidentally set something on fire, given the combination of plastic, an open flame, and my general clumsiness.

I began by cutting apart a 2-litre soda bottle. There are tutorials on making flowers using every part of the bottle, from neck to base, but I figured I'd need only the central area.

I sketched an elephant shape, with separate ear, onto the plastic with a permanent marker, then cut out both parts. Because I didn't want blue on my elephant, I cleaned off the marker with alcohol. I also washed the piece carefully, so that it wouldn't catch fire or something when I put it into the flame.

Holding the main piece of plastic over a tealight flame with tweezers, I waited for it to soften enough that I could shape it. It actually shapes itself before you can really do much. It also shrinks a bit.

Because it has a mind of its own, I started holding various areas over the flame, catching them as soon as they softened and doing what I could to shape them before the plastic rehardened. I also noticed that I didn't need to hold the plastic all that close to the flame for it to begin softening.

I ended up with something that was curved in on itself, so I softened the centre of the elephant's body, quickly pressing it onto my work surface to flatten the whole thing a bit.

The tail and trunk also needed a bit of attention, so I softened them each several times, twisting and bending them with the tweezers.

Once I had finished the main body of the elephant, I worked on the ear. This mostly consisted of touching the edges to the flame, allowing them to shrink and ripple a little on their own. To finish the ear, I softened the middle of it, and flattened it slightly on my work surface.

I attached the ear to the body with super glue. Some sources suggest that you can heat both parts to stick them together, but I'm not that adept with flames and I didn't want to risk ruining the pieces I'd so carefully shaped.

Many tutorials will suggest colouring the final piece with permanent markers, but I liked this piece as it was. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, as it lies flat rather than standing up on its own. It is, however, much thicker and harder than the original material, and has a sort of glassy look that's rather appealing.

This was quick and easy and—big bonus—I didn't burn or singe my fingers. I liked it enough that I already have a larger project in mind for this technique, if I ever find enough time to carry it out.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Although fully grown elephants are almost impervious to solitary predators, they can sometimes be taken down by lions hunting in groups. It takes seven lionesses to kill an elephant, but only two male lions—and young elephants can be killed by a single lion. In one case in Botswana, a solitary male lion ran full tilt into the side of a six-year-old male elephant, knocking it over before killing it.

Interestingly, as lions have gotten better at hunting elephants, elephants have developed ways of defending themselves. In a notable experiment in 2001, Karen McComb of the University of Sussex played the roars of male lions to a herd of elephants. The older matriarchs—who are usually the leaders of elephant herds—hardly reacted at all to the sound of  single lion roar. When presented with the roars of multiple lions, however, they quickly ushered the herd into a defensive formation.

When hunting elephants, lions almost always attack from behind. They circle a baby or a straggler, then jump onto its back—away from the powerful trunk—and drag the hapless elephant to the ground. Since lions never go for a frontal assault, elephants form circles with their trunks and tusks facing outwards, and the weakest members of the herd in the centre.

The video below shows elephants reacting to the recorded sounds of multiple lions roaring. To read more from the original article, click here.

To Support Elephant Welfare
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India) 
The Elephant Sanctuary (Tennessee)

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

No comments:

Post a Comment