Sunday, 20 October 2013

Elephant No. 48: Oreo Cookies

Annie Carruthers sent me this idea yesterday, and I thought it was pretty cool. I'd never even heard of this, er, art form before, but a quick online search turns up many, many examples.

Oreo cookies are not a favourite in our household, so I trotted out to the store to buy a package. On the off chance that I'd feel guilty for buying food I didn't want to eat—and thus feel compelled to eat them—I bought a low-calorie version.

I began by twisting open the cookie. This didn't result in a clean cookie "canvas", so I scraped the icing off of both sides. This still doesn't entirely clean the cookie surface, so I dampened a paper towel and more or less scrubbed off any icing residue. Bonus: the slightly damp surface helps the icing design to stick better.

To give myself a bit of a headstart, I moulded a basic elephant shape, and placed it on top of the cookie surface. I didn't press it down at all, as I wasn't sure what kind of form it was going to take.

After this, I used my fingers, fingernails and a toothpick to make a baby elephant. The toothpick was by far the best tool of the three, because you can press, poke and scrape without the clumsiness of your hands getting in the way. I have relatively small hands, but they felt as delicate as big ol' bear paws for something like this.

This was the first elephant: a baby elephant, so I could avoid trying to make teeny tusks.

I didn't mind this one, and it only took about half an hour from start to finish, so I made another one. This was a simple African elephant head with tusks.

It's slightly finicky work, but not at all time-consuming. If you decide to try this, here are some helpful tips:

1. Although you'll need to "scrub" the cookie surface to remove icing residue, do this gently and with a barely dampened paper towel. If the surface seems wet, blot with a paper towel before adding icing.

2. You can mould the icing in your fingers beforehand, but it does become quite soft from the warmth of your hands. Better to handle it only minimally, unless you want to make a snake pattern or lettering or something.

3. The icing will take an impression very easily, so you may want to start out lightly.

4. A toothpick works really well to scrape stray icing back towards your design, and can also be used to make outlines, dots and shapes. The ear on my first elephant is slightly raised, which I could only manage using one toothpick below and one on top.

5. Don't try using water on the icing. It doesn't really smooth things out and, because the icing absorbs water to easily, it can quickly soften to the point of uselessness.

Because I don't love Oreo cookies, I'm not likely to try this again any time soon. Then again, it's always fun to play with your food.

Elephant Lore of the Day
My friend Nahal sent this link yesterday, featuring an elephant jam session in Thailand.

The piano-playing elephant is the genial Asian elephant Peter, who was previously featured in a well-known Samsung smartphone ad. Peter is apparently fond of the piano, and he's clearly having a great time here, as you can tell by his squeaks of joy and the happy flapping of his ears.

Elephants like music very much, and tend to move in time to what they hear, as you can see in both Peter's "dancing" and the cha-cha of the elephant beside him.

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

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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