Thursday, 6 September 2012

Elephant No. 340: Place Cards

I came across a pack of interesting papers for a mere dollar a few days ago, and thought it would be fun to try making small cards of some sort. I thought maybe place cards, given the relatively small size of the paper.

This is the pack of "leather-look" papers I bought. There were other colourways—browns, greys, and autumn colours, for example—but I liked this selection best.

I've never actually made place cards before, so I didn't even know what size they should be. Luckily, there are many, many online sites offering designs, templates and sizes. To make the most of the paper I had, I decided to produce a set of eight cards, each measuring about 7.5 by 5.7 cm (3 by 2.25 inches) when finished.

I started by cutting eight flat pieces—each 7.5 x 11.4 cm (3 x 4.5 inches)—which would give me my desired size when folded. I cut two from each of the four colours of paper, then folded them in half, creasing them with a bone folder. You could also use the side of a spoon or even your fingernail.

This was obviously a bit plain, so I cut random oblong shapes from contrasting colours and glued them onto one of the folded sides. I cut two oblongs of each colour as well.

Next, I made two small elephant templates. I figured out the size by tracing first around one of the folded cards, then drawing inside the shape. I didn't care if they fit perfectly on the oblongs—in the back of my mind, I was thinking the cards should be slightly off-kilter.

I traced each elephant shape onto the back of each of the four colours of paper, giving me one elephant shape in each colour. I then glued them somewhat randomly to the fronts of the cards.

This left me with a bit of a problem: where should I write the names of my guests? I didn't really want to scrawl across the elephant or the background, so I decided to cut random strips from scraps of each colour—except the navy blue—and glued them along the sides. I put four strips on the left side of the cards, and four on the right.

Although it took me about two hours to cut and assemble everything, it was certainly not at all difficult. And at only fifty cents for paper—since I only used half the package—it cost next to nothing.

Although I rarely use place cards, I have to say that I'm very happy with the way these turned out, and wouldn't be ashamed to see them on my dining table.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Although it's a bit too easy to anthropomorphize intelligent creatures such as elephants, sometimes they really don't seem to behave much differently than humans.

In the early part of the twentieth century, elephant keeper Henry Sheak reported watching circus elephants going through their routines on their own, without any prompting from human trainers. Starting at the beginning, they would perform the entire routine.

If one of them faltered, that elephant would either take itself off to the side and practice the problematic section, or the whole group would start the routine from the beginning and run through it again. Sheak thought it might be boredom that made the elephants run through their routines, but the fact that they were so orderly about it perhaps argues some higher level of thought.

In the late first century A.D., Roman historian Plutarch reported on something similar. Although most of the emperor's performing elephants managed to learn their routines relatively easily, there was one elephant among them who was a bit slow to catch on. One night, this particular elephant was spied in its enclosure, running through the entire routine on its own by moonlight, without a human in sight.   

Elephants practising at the Canadian National Exhibition, 1913.
Photo: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244

To Support Elephant Welfare

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