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Stretch – the 52 year old giraffe

Restored by Kim Gardner

I am a Youth Services Librarian who dabbles in art. I had the opportunity last fall to restore our library’s mascot – Stretch. He was originally created by a few 9th graders from a local high school and donated to the library (and has been here ever since).

Because Stretch is so beloved, the poor thing started to suffer from wear and tear damage (in fact Stretch has had at least one other ‘redo’ sometime in the early 1990’s). I didn’t know how to restore paper mache but I knew that I wanted to have some of my young patrons help me. Before I let the kids assist me I sanded down the entire outside – not to take off a layer but help the paper have a bit of tooth to grab onto. After this, I created three sessions in which up to five kids were able to assist me.

I decided to not use flour and water due to concerns about allergies and elected to use the MethylCellulose LV Low Viscosity that Jonni experimented with. This worked out well. The kids helped me with two paper mache sessions and one where they painted the yellow. The spots are actually pieces of black construction paper and Modpodge (I did this part on my own). Hopefully, Stretch won’t need another makeover for at least 25 years.

You won’t be able to tell but Stretch’s nose was cracked in the before shot (you’ll see a line under the chin region). I used a two-part sandable epoxy to remold the nose. I have been told that Stretch is very boopable now.

I’ve included a link to our library’s quarterly newsletter that just happened to feature a picture of Stretch. This picture was taken in the early 1990’s and Stretch hadn’t yet had the first redo done in the 90’s.

Lastly, huge thank you to Jonni. I’ve admired your work via YouTube for a decade and this project gave me permission to try it out. I’m looking forward to doing future programming with the kids using paper mache because they really loved it. Thank you.

Giraffe at Rochester Hills Public Library
Giraffe at Rochester Hills Public Library

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