Baby Elephant Sculptures

I’ve just got back from my Art Safari workshop in Zambia, which was a great success. I’m still processing all my photos and reviewing sketches, etc. In the meantime, I thought I would share an experience from my first wildlife trip in Zambia.

nick mackman elephant sculpture

baby elephant sculptureElephants are fascinating to watch. They lead complex lives with each day appearing to have a schedule: 9-9.10am eat bush; 9.10-9.40am wallow; 9.40-10.10am doze.

It was in the downtime in the late afternoon that we found a small elephant family of around six individuals. Initially the baby elephants stopped still to see what we might do. But once the vehicle engine was turned off, and we kept respectfully quiet, they relaxed. One baby elephant played with his trunk, wiggling it around in the air; another wanted to see how much mud she could get on her head; and the third proceeded to push his bottom back and forth on a ridge of mud. Wonderful viewing!

baby elephant sculpturesBack in the studio I was fired up to make three large baby elephant sculptures, a mammoth task to be sure! It has taken me a number of years to understand elephant anatomy. Nothing is hidden, especially their skull which, if wrongly observed, can look very wrong.

Once I had sculpted the basic poses I mapped out the skeleton and skull, and after that the muscle groups. The final part, and by far the longest, was modelling the fine details; lots of wrinkles and subtle non-anthropomorphic expression, which help to tell the story.

Once the baby elephant sculptures were finished I simply glazed their eyes and smoke fired the body to create a subtle matt finish. Each elephant sculpture is approx 55cm long. I was delighted when all three baby elephant sculptures were bought by one client so they could remain together.