Friday, 14 October 2011

Elephant No. 12: Paper Garland

I've only made a paper garland once in my life: one of those stick-men chains you learn as a child. If I remember correctly, mine looked more like a string of murder-victim chalk outlines, and I somehow ended up cutting through the parts that were supposed to hold the figures together. So, although I was assuming that today's elephant activity would be fairly easy, I was prepared for anything. After all, since kids can make invisible ink and origami cranes, and I obviously can't, it was also conceivable that I wouldn't be able to make a paper garland.

Paper garlands are believed to have originated in Victorian England as Christmas decorations. The first paper garlands were made with rings of coloured paper, linked together to make a chain. In later Victorian times, Christmas garlands were often cut-out strings of angels holding hands.

Although I have a long offcut roll of paper from a printing firm, I thought tissue paper might make the prettiest garland. Since I wanted to use a range of shades in the same colour, I bought a couple of packs from the dollar store to supplement what I already had.

The main problem with tissue paper is that you can't get an entire garland out of one sheet, so you need to attach a bunch of sheets together. If you don't want to end up with bicoloured elephants, it's also a good idea to make sure all the sheets are the same size. I was going to simply tape the sheets together, but I didn't want the joins to be too thick or stiff. Instead, I used a glue stick to attach them in a simple overlap.

Once you've got a length of tissue paper all glued and dried, it's time to make the folds. The number of folds obviously dictates the number of elephants, so it's not a bad idea to figure out the general size of elephant you want before folding. Because I lack the type of brain that thrives on paper engineering, I needed to fold and refold a couple of times before I was happy with the width. The folds don't have to be razor-sharp or precise, but they should be as close to uniform as you can make them.

Once I had my final folds, I made a template of the elephant design. The design should be the width of one folded panel, and it's important to remember that each side must touch a fold, in order to create a point of attachment. In this case, the elephants attached at trunk and tail. Since I didn't want pen lines on the final result, I clipped my design to the tissue and began cutting.

Due to the thickness of the tissue, I nibbled away at the design, moving the clips as necessary. When I was finished cutting, I opened it very carefully—partly because the points of attachment were skinny, and partly because tissue paper from the dollar store is thin and cheap.


It won't stand up to a party, but how could you not like seven feet of purple tissue elephants?

Elephant Lore of the Day
One of the most eccentric late Victorian buildings in the United States is Lucy, the Elephant Building. Located in Margate City, just south of Atlantic City, New Jersey, Lucy started life in 1881 as an attention-getting gimmick for a real estate development. Originally called "Elephant Bazaar", the structure was nicknamed Lucy in 1900.

Lucy, the Elephant Building, Margate City, New Jersey

Despite new architectural and engineering technologies of the time, the idea of constructing a building shaped like an animal seemed impossible. Enamoured of the exotic world of Indian maharajas, the developer—25-year-old James Lafferty—hired an architect who was game enough to tackle an elephant-shaped structure. Lafferty was so sure the building would be a hit that he took out a U.S. patent allowing him the exclusive right to make, sell or use animal-shaped buildings for a period of seventeen years.

Lucy's intricate lines and 90-ton structure required the hand-shaping of nearly one million pieces of wood. Clad in hammered tin, Lucy stood six storeys high when completed, and could be seen fifteen kilometres (eight miles) out to sea. Lucy generated a wealth of national publicity, and Lafferty went on to build two more elephants: a twelve-storey structure called the "Elephantine Colossus" at the Coney Island amusement park in New York, and "The Light of Asia" for another potential real estate development. Of the three, Lucy is the only survivor.

Over the years, Lucy fell into disrepair, and by the 1960s was slated for the wrecking ball. In 1969, however, a Save Lucy Committee was formed. Nearly two decades later, Lucy was moved to a city-owned beachfront site, where she has been restored and turned into a popular tourist attraction. More recently, there have been plans to completely refurbish Lucy, with a museum inside.

To Support Elephant Welfare
World Wildlife Fund
World Society for the Protection of Animals
Elephant sanctuaries (this Wikipedia list allows you to click through to information on a number of sanctuaries around the world)
Performing Animal Welfare Society

No comments:

Post a Comment