My house has run out of room for any more critters, even if they don’t eat or shed, so I’ve decided to be brave and try to make a paper mache elephant sculpture that will survive outside. I’ll try to waterproof the paper mache with marine varnish, like I discussed in a previous post. Wish me luck. [edit - I chickened out, and didn't put the elephant outside. ]
As you can see, I haven’t got very far yet. I looked up a lot of baby elephants on Google and chose an Indian elephant baby for my model. I created the sketch and turned it into a pattern by adding a grid, and then transferred the pattern to a piece of press board to create the “bones” of my sculpture. Once the armature is all glued together I’ll start adding crumpled paper muscles and paper mache skin. When I post the finished project I’ll include the pattern in case you decide you need an elephant in your back yard, too.
[edit - I made a video about this whole process. You can see the YouTube video about How to Make a Paper Mache Elephant here.]
The finished sculpture should be about 30 inches high. If I thought anyone would ever climb on it I would make it out of plywood, which is much stronger than the press board. However, I don’t have any plywood on hand, so I’m making do with what’s already here.
Thanks for everyone who contributed their two-cent’s worth to my previous post about an imaginary artists’ community. It sounds like I’m not the only thinking along those lines – and some of you had some very interesting ideas to add to the discussion.
My brother asked me the other day why I didn’t use my paper mache skills to make a house. Frankly, I think it’s a great idea – I think building one’s own home is the ultimate creative adventure. I’ve done a lot of remodeling projects, and I once built a small cabin – but so far, no house from scratch.
He was talking about clay and straw cob as a building material. Cob does look like good messy fun, but I think I’d prefer to make one of the earthbag houses. I especially like Nader Khalili’s designs, which are based on traditional desert dwellings. The natural cooling from the wind scoop sounds great right about now, and his designs have a natural aesthetic that some other earthbag designers don’t quite match up to.
I bought a book on the subject several years ago, but I didn’t realize until today, when I found some links in the latest Mother Earth News, that the idea is really catching on. Check out the plans at earthbagplans.wordpress.com. My attraction to these houses is their hobbit look and the fact that the materials are light enough for a woman to easily build one. But right now my small lot doesn’t even have enough room for another shed, so the biggest thing I’ll be building, in the next few weeks at least, is my baby elephant sculpture.
Maybe we should combine the art community idea with the earthbag houses, and build a fire-proof and earthquake-proof hobbit village overlooking a woodland lake. Hey – we can dream, can’t we?