Monday, 19 December 2011

Elephant No. 78: Jigsaw Puzzle

For today's elephant, I thought I'd try making a jigsaw puzzle. Well, not making a puzzle exactly, because I wouldn't have time today to cut out the pieces, but at least creating a design on top of a pre-cut puzzle.

The earliest jigsaw puzzles were paintings on wood which were then cut apart into shaped pieces with a jigsaw. The London mapmaker and engraver John Spilsbury is believed to have been the first to commercialize jigsaw puzzles around 1760.

Dutch puzzle from the eighteenth century. Many early jigsaw puzzles
were dissected maps.

Although most jigsaw puzzles today are made of cardboard, three-dimensional puzzles with foam-backed pieces, as well as high-end puzzles made of wood, are also available.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a children's paint-your-own-puzzle kit in an art store. I didn't pick it up at the time, and they were out of them when I went back earlier this week. Luckily I found this much cheaper version at a discount store.

Obviously the first thing was that Santa had to go. I had originally thought I'd paint over him with white paint to create a blank "canvas". I had even dragged out my paints and had some white ready to go, when it occurred to me that I could just flip the puzzle over and use the side that was already blank. Duh.

Since I now had plain wood to work with, I decided I might not like to paint at all today. I didn't mind pyrography when I did it weeks ago, so that's what I went with for today's elephant.

The first thing I did was sketch something on the wood. I'm not so confident of my pyrography skills that I wanted to risk trying to draw with the woodburning pen, sight unseen.

Next, I inscribed the main outlines of the elephant. I won't bother rehashing how pyrography works for me, except to say that getting a solid line isn't that easy with the tool I have, because it tends to catch a little on the grain of the wood. Still, it's not a horrible process, and it's simple enough to go back in afterwards and fix things.

After this, it's a straightforward process of filling in the design with shading and so forth. I did this quickly, so I didn't photograph any stages along the way.

When I was finished with the elephant part, I added a series of dots to the outside of the frame, just to add a bit of visual interest.

I enjoyed making this puzzle, and I'm rather pleased with the way it turned out. If I'd done this earlier in the season, I might even have considered making a couple of these as Christmas gifts. Oh, well—there's always next year.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Kandula was a famous Sri Lankan war elephant in the first century B.C. According to the Sinhala chronicle, the Mahavamsa, when the future King Dutthagamani was born in 101 B.C., many valuable items appeared spontaneously. These things were found and brought to the infant by various people. One of the gifts was an elephant found by a fisherman named Kandula.

The elephant was named for the fisherman, and became the constant companion of Dutthagamani. When Dutthagamani became a man, Kandula served as his mount during the wars that led to the unification of Sri Lanka. The mascot of today's Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment is called Kandula, in honour of the royal elephant.

Kandula VII, mascot of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment,
inspecting the troops and accepting their salute. The regiment has had
an elephant as its mascot since 1961.

In 2001, an Asian elephant born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., was also named for Kandula. This Kandula is only the second elephant ever conceived by artificial insemination.

To Support Elephant Welfare 

Elephant sanctuaries (this Wikipedia list allows you to click through to information on a number of sanctuaries around the world)
Performing Animal Welfare Society
Bring the Elephant Home
African Wildlife Foundation

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