An Elephant for Andrew

paper mache elephantToday’s guest post is from Jane Lewis, who created a paper mache elephant for her brother Andrew. What a lovely tribute for a very special guy. Thank you, Jane, for sharing this touching story with us.

I’ll let Jane take it from here…

An Elephant for Andrew

©2017 Jane Lewis

Sometime in March this year my family received the sad news that my brother Andrew had liver cancer. Andrew was born with Downs Syndrome and lived in supported living. With only a few months to live the family started making memories with Andrew by spending quality time together on special days out.

One of these days out was at the zoo where Andrew loved the elephants and giraffes. I decided from there to make a life size baby elephant in Andrew’s memory.

Andrew At the Zoo
Andrew At the Zoo

I decided to make the elephant out of paper mache and searched the internet for guidance when I came across Jonni’s lovely example.

My husband found some ply board in the garage and helped me to cut out the armature.

The Plywood Armature
The Plywood Armature

Evenings and any other spare time that I could find I worked on Andy the elephant as Andrew was shown pics throughout the process and loved him!

Filling Out the Forms on the Elephant
Filling Out the Forms on the Elephant

In the photo above shows the bubble wrap, newspaper and masking tape stage….starting to take shape.

Andy the Elephant Gets his Paper Mache
Andy the Elephant Gets his Paper Mache

Now Andy the elephant is at the paper mache stage. Friends rallied round to collect newspaper for my project, like Jonni says this requires plenty!

Face Details, and Wrinkles
Face Details, and Wrinkles

Ok so now the ears have been added, I made up some paper mache clay to get some fine detail on Andy’s face. This stuff is amazing and I found it worked really well! When I was happy with the finer detail I used the kitchen towel with flour paste to achieve the wrinkled skin effect. Once dried it was time to paint Andy

Painting Andy the Elephant
Painting Andy the Elephant

Sadly, Andrew passed away at this stage, we managed to say goodbye.

Finally with the original idea to put Andy in the garden on dry days I have given him a few coats of marine varnish. This has made his colour a lot darker which I wasn’t sure I liked but the family think he looks good.

The finished elephant is extremely heavy and very sturdy so it wouldn’t be practical to carry him in and out of the garden. Jonni has also advised me that moisture may still get in, despite my attempts to protect with the varnish, so I won’t risk ruining my work by putting him outside now.

Andrew's Elephant, Finished
Andrew’s Elephant, Finished

Andy now takes pride of place in my lounge where the grandkids can sit upon him!

I am so grateful to Jonni for sharing her plans that have enabled me to enjoy creating and sharing this wonderful memory for my little brother. The photo below shows me and my brother just before he died 🙁

Jane and Andrew
Jane and Andrew

14 thoughts on “An Elephant for Andrew”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. The love between your brother and you and the beautiful elephant you created for him will leave you with many wonderful memories.

  2. What a lovely project and a beautiful story of love, kindness, and grace. I am so sorry for your loss.

  3. Jane, I am so sorry for your loss.

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story, your creation of the elephant at the various stages and your photos of your brother and you. I am so glad your brother got to see his elephant in progress. I am sure he was thrilled. It is a gorgeous elephant and a beautiful and sweet memorial.

  4. I’m so sorry for your lost…and I’m sure Andrew loved it…beautiful work of art love….from the heart….
    Love it…tfs

  5. Jane, what a lovely story. You will miss your brother and it sounds like he had quite a beautiful spirit. That will always be with you. So sorry for your loss but thanks for sharing your beautiful sculpture tribute to Andrew.

  6. Hi Jane what a beautiful memorial to your brother. I am sorry for your loss but your elephant and his enjoyment of it will bring a lot of great memories of a wonderful man. I have a down syndrome cousin whom I have a great relationship with. When my aunt and I pick her up for her weekend stay at her mother’s, and I come along, she makes sure I drive not her mother. Love comes in all sizes, shapes and abilities, no matter what. You are a great testament to that.

  7. Jane, that is a moving story and an awesome elephant. Thank you for sharing your process with us. One of these days, I hope to make something bigger. I love that the kids can sit on it. The darker color does not bother me at all. You have made a great tribute to Andy, and to this elephant. The best to you.

    (I’m working on a very small elephant now – a piggy bank – and I’m afraid mine is rather flat-faced! Now that I have looked at what you’ve done, even though mine has been painted, I think I ought to go back and add the towel and paste to make some wrinkles.) Thanks, again.

    • Thank you Rex and good luck with your little piggy bank , I’m sure everyone will love to see pics of the end result 🙂 Jane

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