Thursday, 14 November 2013

Elephant No. 73: Three-Dimensional Wire Wrapping

I actually had something else planned for today's elephant, but when it came time to actually make the thing, I couldn't find a crucial piece of equipment. Sigh.

I made a wire elephant early on in the original Elephant a Day blog, and it remains one of my favourite things. I didn't think that it had taken a ridiculous amount of time, so I decided to try another wire elephant today.

I used some inexpensive 26-gauge wire, which is soft enough to bend and twist, but not so soft that it collapses in on itself.

I started by making a round shape for the body. I couldn't really remember how I'd made the first one, and I thought copying it would be cheating, so I tried to wing it. Apparently today's elephant was going to be a bit on the tubby side.

I kept wrapping wire around the body, eventually forming legs, then the beginnings of a head.

Next, I formed a trunk and some ears, then made some tentative wraps around both.

After this, I more or less just kept wrapping the wire around everything, lengthening or fattening where necessary, and eventually adding a small tail and some tusks.

To finish the elephant, I squeezed and bent things to give the elephant a bit of personality, then twisted and pinched various areas to make it nice and solid.

I hadn't remembered it being this easy, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself finished in about half an hour. It fills the palm of my hand, so it's relatively small, but it's also reasonably elephant-like—at least, compared to the one I made a couple of years back, which resembled a deer with a trunk and big floppy ears.

I poked my fingers a few times, actually drawing blood at one point, so I don't think I'll be giving anything like this to my little nieces. On the other hand, it is kind of fun in real life, so somebody somewhere might get one in their Christmas stocking.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Today's elephant lore features an interesting pair of puppet elephants, which recently roamed the fifth floor of a car park in Hull, England. Filmed as part of Hull's bid to become the United Kingdom's City of Culture in 2017, the elephants are made of papier maché and muslin, and are each operated by a single performer.

The elephants were created by the Dodgy Clutch theatre company of Newcastle, England, in partnership with the Market Theatre of Johannesburg, South Africa. They have already performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, on Broadway, and in South Africa. If Hull wins its bid, the elephants will take part in the opening parade through city streets.

Dodgy Clutch elephants in Hull, England, September 2013.
Photo: Jack Harland

Hull chose elephants as a theme because of the city's historical connections with the animals. In Edwardian times, the city's large zoological gardens were home to a number of elephants, which walked along the road each morning to take a bath in the River Hull. In 1931, the elephants were taken from Hull to a new home in Newcastle.

The video below shows the elephants in action.

To Support Elephant Welfare

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