Elephants have long fascinated me. The tight familiar bonds, high intelligence, ways of communicating with one another, and the apparent displays of emotions in these gentle giants make me in awe of the God who made them. An elephant gourd has been in my mind to make for years but I wanted not just to feature one of these animals but a whole herd.
The gourd itself was grown and given as a gift to me by Wade Crowe. It is a fairly large gourd with a lovely shape and even coloring. That made this gourd the perfect choice for pyrography and for my subject. The rim is finished with braided leather. The beautiful leopard wood stand was designed and made by my talented and supportive husband.
The entire gourd is done with pyrography with the exception of the very bottom. A few of the elephants' trunks extend beyond the lower border.
I wanted the main theme of this gourd to show the familial bond and especially display the care and protection of the babies of these enormous creatures. As the gourd is turned, there are babies tucked under a mother's trunk, or being caressed by big sister or being a little cheeky with his unruly trunk!
It was daunting to start this as I have never worked on an elephant with pyrography before. Once I got to burning slowly and cautiously all the little details, wrinkles and folds, it turned out to be the most enjoyable piece I ever worked on.
Many thanks to Bananenbrot from Wermelskirchen, Germany on PaintMyPhoto and Bisakha Datta on Unsplash for your wonderful reference photos.
Some fun facts about elephants:
There are 2 kinds of African elephants, Savannah and Forest. The ones I pictured are Savannah. Asian elephants can be distinguished by their smaller ears.
Elephants have such strong family bonds and they are led by a matriarch. The matriarch is the oldest female and she looks out for the herd, leading them to where there is safety, food and water.
They have such memories and emotion that they will pause at the place where member of the herd has died even years after it occurred.
They can communicate using infrasound, which is at a lower frequency that humans cannot hear it. The rumble can be felt through the ground, and can travel over large distances.
Elephant herds are typically 10-20 members, but they occasionally join up to form a "super herd" which can be up to 100 elephants!
My current favorite elephant documentary is The Elephant Queen which depicts a herd of elephants struggling to survive the dry season in the African Savannah. It was eye opening to witness the hardships they face day to day. I highly recommend it if you would like to learn more about elephants and enjoy beautiful nature cinematography.
On a side note, this gourd took about two months to complete. I was able to finish it in time to enter it into the American Gourd Society competition at this year's PA Gourd Festival. It received an award in the pyrography division!
I am Jenn Avery, gourd artist of over 20 years. Art has always been a part of my life, and my work has taken many twists and turns and I have worked in almost every medium available.