Thursday, 29 March 2012

Elephant No. 179: Tissue Paper Tufts

I think the last time I tried this was in Grade 6, when I made an elf or something using a similar technique. I needed something easy for today's elephant, so here we go.

I've covered tissue paper before, so I'll just dive right in to the activity itself.

I bought this kit a couple of months ago, thinking it would be something I could do quickly. It wasn't.

I decided I would only use the colours of tissue paper that came in the package, despite the fact that brown, orange, green and yellow aren't really elephant colours.

There were no instructions in the package, so these two little photographs were all I had to go on.

I thought there might a trick to rolling the squares of tissue paper into little cushiony things, but if there is, I couldn't figure it out. I essentially folded the corners towards the middle of the square, then sort of balled it up, then stuck it down with glue.

I could tell already that I wasn't going to have enough of any one colour to finish the elephant, so I decided to just do an elephant outline.

When I was finished with the elephant, I put a few orange tufts to define veins in the ear, a brown tuft for the eye, and a little flower.

I didn't mind this activity, although it took longer than I thought it would. It's a somewhat meditative exercise, so it's not all that irritating or fiddly. From start to finish, this took about an hour, mostly because of the time it takes to ball up the little squares of tissue paper. If I'd had more time and more of the brown tissue, I would have filled in the whole thing.

In real life, this actually looks rather interesting, and I like the texture. I can see myself using this technique again sometime, although probably more as an embellishment, rather than as the main medium.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Given the size of their brains, it would be surprising if elephants weren't among Nature's most clever creatures. In a monograph on elephant intelligence published by the Nature Institute, Craig Holdredge reported on one of the funnier tricks I've heard.

In Asia, many elephants have been belled as a way of warning people that they are in the vicinity. Many young elephants, however, have learned how to plug the bells around their necks with wedges of heavy mud or clay, so that the clappers cannot sound. This allows them to steal silently into groves of cultivated banana trees at night.

So quiet are the elephants that they can eat not only the bananas and leaves, but the entire tree—often right beside the hut in which the owner of the grove is sleeping—without waking the farmer or his family.

Elephant eating bananas at Elephant Nature Park,
Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Photo: Justin Watt

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