Friday, 25 October 2013

Elephant No. 53: Rhinestone Box

I'm a bit of a magpie, in that I like sparkly things, so when a package of multicoloured acrylic rhinestones caught my eye a few days ago, I had to bring it home to make an elephant. What kind of elephant, I had no idea, but I figured I could glue them to the top of a box. So I bought a box, too.

The rhinestones were all in different shapes, sizes and colours, so I wasn't quite sure how I was going to make a recognizable elephant that stood out from its surroundings. My original idea was to make a multicoloured elephant against a multicoloured background; unfortunately, when I tried that, it was total visual chaos.

I decided to sort the colours to see what I had to work with, and discovered that the bulk of the rhinestones were either pink or red. So I defaulted to a pink elephant, thinking that I could form a background around it later.

I laid out the rhinestones on the box in an abstract elephant pattern, and ended up with the design below. I liked it well enough, and was almost out of pink rhinestones anyway, so I decided to go with this for my final design.

Easier said than done. Each time I picked up a rhinestone to add glue, I dislodged everything around it. It was a good thing I had the photo above as a reference, or I would have been lost. It might have been easier to create an elephant organically, glueing as I went; but I was now rather attached to the design, and was determined to re-create it on the box.

After about an hour, I'd more or less reproduced the original design. I left it to dry for a bit while I pondered what to do about the background. I tried a number of things. First, I outlined the elephant with clear rhinestones, adding other colours to the areas beyond. It was pretty hideous, and also impossible to discern the elephant in the midst of it all.

Then I thought that maybe using just clear rhinestones would work. It didn't, as you can see from the photograph below. It was just too much sparkle, and the elephant got lost again.

I went back to the original, which is just an eccentric pink elephant on a wooden box. I had expected to end up with something a little more fancy, but I still kind of like this bizarre little creature.

Elephant Lore of the Day
In Ayutthaya, Thailand, there is an elaborate monument to war elephants, created by artist Khun Khaimuk, Thailand's first professional female sculptor.

The monument features four life-sized bronze elephants, each facing one of the cardinal directions. Kitted out in full battle gear, the elephants are accompanied by mahouts, warriors and guards. 

Burmese war elephant sculpture by Khun Khaimuk (1938–1996).
Photo: Tricky Vandenberg

Thailand's war elephants were normally equipped with a special howdah, manned by an aristocratic warrior. Each elephant was also surrounded by four noblemen, who took up positions near each of the elephant's legs—a formation that has been reproduced in the monument at Ayutthaya. 

In battle, the goal of a Thai war elephant was to destabilize its adversary by catching and holding the opposing elephant with its shoulder and tusks. This helped to manoeuvre the warrior into the best position from which to attack the enemy.

To read more, click here

Burmese war elephant sculpture by Khun Khaimuk (1938–1996).
Photo: Tricky Vandenberg

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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