Tin Elephant

Tin Elephant, tin sheet, wood, enamel, and matte medium. Inspired by Sir James Emerson Tennent, The Wild Elephant and the Method of Capturing and Taming it in Ceylon. London: Longmans, Green, 1867, and online research.

In 1840 the Philadelphia Tin Toy Manufactory started to make exactly what its name suggests: tin toys. These would sometimes be static and sometimes kinetic, but they would almost always be lithographically decorated or painted with oils. I tried to recreate the same principle of motion as the Pulley Sheep with the wheeled base, but this sculpture is almost completely made of tin, except for the repurposed wheels from a modern toy truck. I did not have the means to lithograph onto the tin, so instead I used a thick layer of enamel to form the white coating. And when I say enamel, I mean two bottles of nail polish, an improvisation that I picked up in a jewelry class.


This is another favorite, mostly because of the elephant’s sweet face, but also because, like my dancing fox, he was based on a paper toy. I love the idea of using paper models to make a sturdy and strong piece of art.