Friday, 8 November 2013

Elephant No. 67: Painted Paper Lamp

Today I was in what I'm told is The Biggest IKEA in the Land, where I came across an inexpensive lamp that looked like the perfect canvas for an elephant of some sort.

I don't normally shop at IKEA—I get confused too easily and end up lost and annoyed in bathroom accessories when I want office storage—but I was at a nearby mall anyway, so I went in and found this. The price was right at five dollars; although the price of the bulb at nine dollars was not. Luckily, similar bulbs are two for a dollar at the dollar store.

The name of this little number in IKEA-speak is "L├ąter", in case you want one of your own. What that name means, I have no idea. Google Translate says it means "lets". Gibberish in either language, if you ask me.

It comes, like most things IKEA, flat-packed and squished.

When opened up and smoothed out as much as possible, it looks like this. Good thing elephants are wrinkly.

I thought something realistic might be interesting—albeit not in realistic colours—so I decided to draw from a photograph. This is the photograph I chose.

African bush elephant.

I thought briefly about painting multiple elephants all around the lamp, then decided I'd rather not. One elephant was enough for today, although I thought I could probably continue the greenery all the way around.

Given that this is wrinkled, I settled on thinned acrylic paint as the least likely to flake off. I also wanted it thin so that some of the light would shine through.

When I saw this lit up in the store, it occurred to me that it would have been really cool to be able to paint something on both sides, so that it I got two different images, depending on whether it was lit or unlit. You can see what I mean in a previous post on hold-to-light images. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to take this apart without having to spend a lot of time reglueing it. Another time, perhaps.

I began by making a faint pencil sketch.

Next, I underpainted the elephant in various shades of purple.

I thought it might have more life if I used a bunch of other colours, so I added some blue, green, red, orange and yellow.

To finish it off, I added some outlines in a dark purple and painted the tusks white.

IKEA has a lot of paper-shaded lamps that would lend themselves readily to decoration like this. And most are reasonably priced. Despite the fact that I'm not fond of the IKEA shopping experience, it's a great place for stuff like this.

This lamp turned out a lot better than I expected, and only took me a couple of hours from start to finish. It looks much prettier in real life than in these photographs and, for five dollars, I like it enough that I'll probably end up going back to buy a couple more of these babies.

Elephant Lore of the Day
In March of this year, Australian tourists Kate and Marcus Westberg watched in amusement as a herd of elephant dithered about crossing the Chobe River from Botswana into Namibia.

Herd of elephants preparing to cross the Chobe River to Namibia.
Photo: Kate Westberg/BPNS

The elephants stood together on the banks of the river, venturing into the water twice before turning back. Finally, just before dark, the herd made a final attempt.

Quickly finding themselves submerged, the adult elephants formed a protective circle around the calves, and all stuck their trunks out of the water like snorkels. Happily, all of the elephants—including the babies—reached the other side safely.

Herd of elephants snorkeling their way across the Chobe River.
Photo: Kate Westberg/BPNS
Source: crossing-

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

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Big Life Foundation

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