Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Elephant No. 71: Polymer Clay Buttons

I made an elephant button for the original Elephant a Day blog, but I was at a meeting today where this activity was being offered, so I figured it was time to try it again.

I began by rolling some sparkly acid yellow into a log shape, thinking I would make a series of buttons from a bunch of discs. Then I decided not.

Instead, I smushed the yellow together again, and shaped it into a vague elephant shape. I then rolled it flat with a piece of PVC pipe, reshaping the edges a bit as I went.

Because this stuff can be stamped with rubber stamps, I found one with a pretty floral pattern and randomly covered the surface of the elephant with overlapping flower imprints.

I then reshaped the edges again and poked an eyehole into it with a toothpick. To give the elephant some delineation, I pressed a couple of lines into the surface. To finish up, I pierced it with a cake tester in two places to give me sewing holes.

This wasn't completely hideous, and I had lots of time left, so I made another elephant in blue.

And a rather garish red.

After this, they needed to be baked in a 230˚F (110˚C) oven for about 20 minutes.

Obviously there's no buttonhole on earth that could accommodate any of these, so they're just decorative. Decorative, highly abstract, and somewhat silly, but I still like them well enough to keep them around.

Elephant Lore of the Day
I was surprised to learn today that the first buttons to be placed in the ears of the famous Steiff teddy bears—and the company's other stuffed toys—featured an elephant.

Original Steiff ear button, 1904–1905.
Source: http://www.worthpoint.com/blog-entry/identify-

Beginning in 1904, all Steiff bears left the factory in Glengen, Germany with a metal button in their ears. In that first year, as well as in 1905, the small brass button featured a tiny elephant. Similarly, the early cardboard tags worn around the bears' necks also featured an elephant.

Early Steiff chest tag.
Source: http://www.worthpoint.com/blog-entry/identify-early-

By 1906, the elephant was gone, and subsequent Steiff buttons were blank, then imprinted with an "S", and finally the word "Steiff".

A Steiff teddy bear, ca. 1920.
Source: http://www.worthpoint.com/blog-entry/identify-early-

Why an elephant? Interestingly enough, the company that became famous for its teddy bears was famous first for its toy elephants.

In 1880, Margarete Steiff found a design in a magazine and made elephant pincushions for her friends. Discovering that children were playing with the pincushions, she began producing elephants and other animal toys for children.

One of Margarete Steiff's first elephant pincushions, ca. 1880.
Source: http://needleprint.blogspot.ca/2013/03/steiff-

It wasn't until 1902 that Steiff created its first teddy bear. By 1907, the company was manufacturing nearly a million bears a years—a number that has increased every year since.

A modern replica of the first elephant pincushions manufactured by Steiff.
Source: http://needleprint.blogspot.ca/2013/03/steiff-elephant-pincushions.html

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