Friday, 12 March 2010

Safari Macabre

Sometimes I find the greatest things craft things in non craft stores. I bought this whilst abroad a while back - it's great. I really like these toys - they make me giggle so much even now. I loved the idea of being able to paint my own one too.

I could paint it brown and yellow, standing in the savannah eating the juiciest leaves from the tallest of trees like giraffes do. When I press the bottom, it could lie down in the warm ochre dust and sleep as the sun sets over the plains and a herd of wilderbeast roam across the horizon-line. There could even be several monkeys in the background singing the theme from the Lion King.

Or not. You see, I have spent most of the day showing friends round the city I live in. If I see another gargoyle I'm going to scream. I'm in a dark and brooding mood caused by quarterly reports and people with way too much enthusiasm which was not tempered by pointing at decaying architecture, standing in dank chapels, wiping years of dust off Latin inscriptions and trying to pretend I know a little more than nothing about the fineries of seveteenth centry silverwork.

Don't get me wrong, I love history and I like my city, I really do - just not today. I'm shattered, I worked sixteen hours yesterday then came home to a half-finished wedding cake and all I want to do is eat cake and sleep. It's grey, it's windy, it's cold and I am feeling decidedly sorry for myself. My friends are historians, so they need detail about these things and lots of time to admire the subtle differences in the architectural vision whereas I am a scientist so I will settle for "pretty cool" and trying to work out an easy synthesis of kifunensine on the back of an envelope whilst they point at things on the ceiling.

This toy, however, was in my bag the whole time as I wanted to go the the library to find some pictures. As it came along for the ride it is now part of my Gothic world. So in Africa it ain't. Not any more.

The nice thing about having access to on-line databases and a copyright library at work is that you can get hold of anything. Even books on the physiology and anatomy of the giraffe. I really hope they don't keep a permanent log of my library requests, or else I'm going to get fired. If I type "anatomy and giraffe" into Scopus, I get twenty-one hits straight off. There isn't a great deal about the skeleton though, although I've just learnt a great deal about the circulatory system of large African mammals.

A couple of quick coats of plain acrylic paint leave me with a wooden giraffe standing on a black base.

Then some white acrylic paint...

The little furry ears have to go, they are in the way, they are where the eyes should be and now covered with white acrylic.

Next the outline of the skeleton - in pencil first, then in acrylic, then tidied and detailed up with marker pen and shaded with pencil as marker pen and not totally dry acrylic seems to be a bad mix. A quick coat of craft varnish to finish off.

It is not asleep - it has shuffled off it's mortal coil. It is an ex-giraffe. And when I let go, it has risen and is on the search for fava beans and a nice bottle of chanti. Some days I worry about myself a just tiny little bit.


Van Schalkwyk, O.L. et al., A comparison of the bone density and morphology of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) and buffalo (Syncerus caffer) skeletons; Journal of Zoology 2004, 264,307 -315

1 comment:

Cat said...

That giraffe is marvellous.