Saturday, 26 October 2013

Elephant No. 54: Feathered Mask

Hallowe'en is less than a week away, so I thought I'd try making an elephant Hallowe'en mask. I made a masquerade mask in my original blog, but I've never tried making something like this.

Inspired by this $2.00 mask from the dollar store, I decided to deck it out with feathers.

And, of course, I chose purple feathers.

I started with by glueing on a bunch of feathers to make the elephant's ears. Although I'm useless with a glue gun, it was the quickest option, so that's what I used. I hate glue guns.

Next came the trunk. I'd been thinking about how I'd do this for a few days, and decided that it would work best if I used muslin for the general trunk shape, wired so that the trunk could be rolled up and out of the way, if need be.

I cut a piece of muslin measuring about 20 by 2.5 inches (50.8 x 6.3 cm), tapering slightly towards the bottom.

Before glueing feathers to it, I attached three lines of 22-gauge wire to the upper side with hot glue. Thin lines of hot glue are usually flexible enough to allow for the curve of the trunk, so I hoped this would work.

For the trunk, I chose small and rather fluffy purple feathers.

I began by glueing the muslin into the nose area of the mask, then stuck feathers into the same opening before the glue hardened. I then transferred my attention to the bottom of the trunk and began glueing feathers from the bottom up. Once the upper side of the trunk was done, I flipped it over and glued feathers to the underside, all the way into the nose area.

To finish up the design, I glued a pair of peacock feathers to the centre top.

This turned out way better than I expected it would, and it's actually quite wearable, as you can see below on the stuffed animal that I forced to wear it. I probably won't wear it myself this Hallowe'en—I'm pretty sure I'd scare tiny trick-or-treaters into the next county—but I like it enough that I may even look for a place to display it.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Elephants are the only mammals, other than humans, known to have specific death rituals.

If an elephant dies in front of them, elephants will at first try to revive the stricken animal by attempting to lift it to its feet. When that doesn't work, they begin to grieve with loud rumbles and shrieks, before falling silent. They then toss dirt and leaves on the dead elephant, and begin a solemn vigil that lasts two or three days.

Nor are they indifferent to fallen humans. Stories abound in Africa of elephants either trying to help hurt humans, or trying to bury humans they believe to be dead.

Kenyan game warden George Adamson (of Born Free fame), tells the story of an elderly Turkana woman who fell asleep under a tree on her way home. When she awoke, there was an elephant standing above her, gently running its trunk over her body. Knowing how dangerous elephants can be, the terrified woman stayed silent and still.

Soon, other elephants began arriving. Trumpeting loudly, they began burying the woman under branches, then stood quietly beside her for a while. In the morning, she was found by local herders, completely unharmed.

Elephants often pause to examine the bones of other elephants.
Photo: Karen McComb

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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