Moving an Elephant, on the Cheap

Looking for great ideas for your next paper mache project or a gift idea? Check out my patterns and videos for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts.

Now that my elephant is in a box, it’s official: I’m moving! (Papers are still not signed yet, though, so I really hope I don’t have to reschedule the moving van again. Mortgage companies can be such a pain…)

I know a lot of you have been wondering where I’m going next. I found a really cute house on Craigslist, a few miles from my daughter, in South Dakota. I haven’t actually seen it yet, but I signed a lease for 9 months. That will give me time to decide where to buy my next house, and, in the meantime, I get a chance to play in the snow with my grandson.

Now, about that elephant — people often ask me why I don’t sell my sculptures online, and here’s the reason: I hate packing them up to ship, and then worrying about whether they’ll actually get to their destination intact. That’s especially true with a sculpture this big, because the only box I could find that would fit poor Elsie was a used appliance box that had definitely seen better days. And packing peanuts were out of the question, since the only ones for sale here in town come in very small bags. It would have cost over $50 just for peanuts at that rate, and it cost way less than that to make the beast in the first place. (To see how I did it, click here).

So I cut up the appliance box so I could set the elephant down into the box instead of scooting her in through the end. Then I reinforced the box with some pieces from a set of wooden shelves. She weighs almost 50 pounds, and she’s not an easy shape to lift, but I did manage somehow. Next I padded the box all around with cushions from my loveseat and a chaise lounge, and some foam left over from a project I did a long time ago. I taped the whole thing back together with strapping tape, but it didn’t really look like something that would survive a trip half-way across the country. To reinforce it  I found some tie-down straps at Walmart. Now I just hope for the best.

By the way, if you start a pool to bet on whether or not the elephant actually arrives with ears and tail intact, please don’t tell me about it. 😉

[Edit: the elephant arrived at her new home in perfect shape!]

17 thoughts on “Moving an Elephant, on the Cheap

    • I don’t sell the patterns, but I know that several people have taken patterns to the local copy shop, and they can blow it up for you. If you can print the pattern on letter-sized paper, you might be able to get that done locally.

  1. Good luck on the move and finding a house and having Elsie arrive in one piece, that packing looks good! No way for her to get damaged when she becomes restless along the way :p My elephant is still very light so far but also still very vulnerable.

  2. I hope Elsie the elephant arrives intact. I know what you mean about mailing your paper mache, but I sell mine online and have had no problems so far. I did have a problem when I was just using clay like Sculpty. That was the only time I had a sculpture break during shipping and I got paid for damages because I insured it. I was also able to repair it later and it looked almost as good as new.

  3. Good luck with your move Jonni,
    I’m sure everything will be fine!- Elephants are very resiliant and are used to travelling long distances! Looking at your photo’s I bet the packing materials weighed more than the Elephant! Have a safe journey!

    • Yes, it was a bit overdone, packing-wise – but the cushions were going to be shipped anyway. I am worried about those ears, but I can always fix them if I need to. I wanted to take her with me in the car, but it was her or my dog – and I do rather like Banjo, so Elsie got the box, instead. 🙂

  4. This is so weird – I’ve been following the housing situation around Brookings for a while, and there’s a house on 1/2 acre a few miles out that has an unattached 2000 square foot pottery studio and a two bedroom, 2 bath house. It’s a foreclosure, and the price has just been reduced, as of yesterday, to $36,900! If I was younger, I’d grab it in a minute. It’s probably a great money sink – but couldn’t you have fun with that much play space for paper mache?

  5. My sister is buried on the Little Cheyenne River Reservation. She lived at Ridgeview SD and at Eagle Butte. I have been there so I know you should like South Dakota.

    • Hi Dodie. I think the Cheyenne River is quite a long ways away from Volga, but I intend to do a lot of sight-seeing, and I’ll try to go see that area. I’ve driven through the Black Hills, many years ago, and it was quite impressive. There are a lot of artists in the state, so I think it will be nice.

  6. Good luck on your move, I will keep my fingers crossed, Elsie makes it in good working order. I have a friend who lives in Brookings SD and the only thing she does not like is the cold in winter, but for the rest of the year it is a nice place to live. I have moved more times than I would like to admit, and packing and shipping across state lines was a hassle and a half. It is settling in that feels good.

    • Hi Christine. Jessie lives in Brookings, now, too, and she likes what she’s seen so far. The winter is the one thing that everyone warns me about, so I think it’s a good thing that I can try it out before committing myself to the area.

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