We're so delighted and honoured to contribute to "A Book and a Craft" initiative. We love books and we love crafts, so when I saw this initiative, I knew my daughter would be thrilled to be a part of such a project.
I left it to my 5.5 year old daughter - Pari - to decide the book that she would base her craft on. And, I wasn't at all surprised that she chose "The Saggy Baggy Elephant" - a heartwarming story of a baby elephant - by Kathryn and Byron Jackson. The illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren are particularly endearing. Though, one may think this book is a little wordy for a preschooler; for Pari it really works because she's now at that stage where she reads voraciously and in fact likes it if the book offers lots to read besides having exclusive illustrations. We all love Elephants and have had many a trysts with this gentle giant of a creature. During some of our trips around South India, we have watched the Elephants in the wild, bathed them, fed them and played for hours. So, our love for Elephants is innate and deep-rooted. The Saggy Baggy Elephant narrates the story of a baby Elephant named Sooky who goes around the forest dancing and playing without a care in the world. He is not aware of his looks; does not even know he is an elephant. Until, he is mocked at by a tactless parrot for the oddities in his looks - his way too big ears, a rather long nose, and a skin that's all "bags and sags and creases and wrinkles.
The Parrot declares that Sooky should be called a 'Saggy Baggy Elephant'. Along the way, he is made fun of and even threatened by many other animals too, which makes Sooky feel lonely and demoralized and hurts his self-esteem. So much so that he hides in a dark cave shedding copious amount of tears. This is when he meets a herd of giant and beautiful elephants and discovers his own identity. And, Sooky regains his confidence, spirits and zest and even teaches his "one-two-three-kick"
dance to this herd.
In my opinion, this story conveys a meaningful message to kids (as well as to adults) in that we are all different and hence unique in our own ways and we should be proud of who we are. We are born with different looks, skin colour and talent and that's what makes this world a diverse and interesting place. For me, as a parent, the takeaway was to respect my child as an individual and not compare her with any other kid. The message apart, the story and the illustrations are bound to delight a child's heart.
Our craft, too, is based on the main character and the message and celebrates the spirit of "being different and unique".
Pari thoroughly enjoyed making this craft because the result is another book - an accordion book - with a story woven into it with the help of six different art techniques!
And, here is a step-by-step tutorial with pictures. I'll try to keep this as succinct as possible.
We discussed the concept and approach before we set out to make this. The concept was to make five elephants using different art techniques:
*Eric Carle style colouring on tissues *Mosaic elephant using styrofoam cuttings *Crayon rubbings with rays effect *Printing an elephant with leaves *Using the rolling tube with yarn technique
Her idea was to write a short story describing each elephant and his talent. But, the talent of the elephant would be decided and narrated only after all five elephant artworks were ready.
Step 1: I cut out a long strip of paper from a sheet of Ivory paper. The length was long enough to make four folds. The size of each fold will depend upon the size of the artwork you want to make on it. I made the elephant sketch for each artwork.
Step 2: The first elephant was made by cutting small pieces from the Styrofoam plate, colouring them and pasting them in the elephant body. Before that, she did the outline with 3D glitter glue.
Step 3: For the second elephant, she cut out the sketch that I drew on a paper; coloured the outline of the cutout with soft pastels and after placing the cutout on one of the folds of the accordion paper she rubbed the colour in a outward direction onto the paper underneath. This resulted in beautiful rays-like effect emerging from the elephant's outline. Then, she went on to decorate the inside with sketch pens.
Step 4: For the third elephant, we used the Eric Carle method of artwork. I had her paint a tissue paper with many layers of diluted tempera paint. We made sure that she did not move the brush too vigorously or the tissue would tear apart. It was also important that the next layer of colour was painted before the previous layer had dried. Finally, once the painted tissue was completely dry and stiff, I sketched an Elephant figure with a black marker pen and cut it out. Pari pasted the cut-out onto the first fold of the accordion book.
Step 5: She made the fourth elephant by applying paint on the back of the leaves and stamping them. We used three different leaves to make the elephant's head, body and trunk and painted the legs separately.
Step 6: Finally, she moved onto design the accordion book cover. For this, I first cut out an elephant from a Styrofoam plate and stuck it down in the centre of the book cover using glue sticker. The idea was to make an elephant surrounded by tall grass all around. To make the grass, we glued yarn around a hollow cardboard tube. Then, painted the strings with green tempera paint. While it was wet enough, Pari rolled the tube all over the paper, including on the Styrofoam elephant. When we removed the Styrofoam cutout, we had a white space in the shape of an elephant surrounded by green grass.
Step 7: Besides all those arty and fun techniques, we used a spin-art technique to make the rainbow coloured flowers. On a dart (part of Pari's toy bow and arrow), Pari placed some drops of thick colours. She then pressed the dart down and gave it a slight spin to reveal beautiful impressions with branched effect.
Step 8: Once the artwork was over, Pari sat down to decide names for her elephants who were all so unique and so different from each other, despite the fact that they were all the same creature. The Eric Carle style tissue elephant gave her an impression of night sky. So, she named it "Singing Elephant under the moon-lit sky". Among the rest of the elephants, one was a dancer, another was a designer and the fourth was a nature lover! She named her book with a fitting title - "It's Fun to Be Different"!
Rashmie is from New Delhi, India. She is passionate about creating a holistic learning environment for her daughter by means of art, nature, free play, books, music and traveling. She writes about her artful parenting journey at Mommy Labs. A former advertising and marketing professional, Rashmie, now, is a published photographer and a writer. She writes about health, travel, eco-friendly living, pursuing dreams and purpose in life etc. You can follow Mommy Labs here on facebook.
Thank you, Rashmie! To see the rest of the books and crafts in this series click the button below!