Create an Elephant-Themed Nursery
TOH reader Vanessa Butler painted a wraparound mural using colors she had on hand—and some classic elephant jokes
WHO> Vanessa Butler
WHERE> Rocky River, Ohio
WHAT> Painted a mural that practically walks and talks
When my husband, Jeff, and I were first dating, he tried to woo me with elephant jokes from a book he and his twin brother had memorized as kids. Can't say it worked. Luckily, there were many other charming things about him. But we still have that book, and years later, pregnant with twins, I thought it would be a perfect subject for a mural in their room.
Shown: The crib wall features a striking mural of elephants and speech balloons. Each speech balloon features a joke from the book 101 Elephant Jokes (Mass Market Paperback, 1964). Keep reading for the answers to some of the riddles featured here.
I work at a school, and that's where I got the idea of using an overhead projector to help create the mural. I began by doing a drawing on paper, overlapping the elephants so that I could fit more in. Then I scanned the drawing into my computer and printed it on a sheet of plastic called transparency film (available at office-supply stores). Placing it on my borrowed projector, I was able to enlarge the drawing to fit on one wall. After making small adjustments, I outlined the shapes in pencil. Now I was ready to paint.
My plan was to do all four walls, but I was seven months pregnant and pretty tired! So I flipped the transparency, moved the projector closer, and created a smaller version on an adjacent wall. I used round sponges from a crafts store for the polka dots on the ears, and an artist's brush for the freehand lettering.
Shown: The elephants' polka-dot ears echo the crib sheets, and different shades of blue tie the whole room together.
To save money, I painted three walls blue and then created a palette with what was left of the blue and other random leftover paints, some of which I blended and lightened with leftover white. Today our twins wake up surrounded by elephants asking silly questions. I love that their room is unique. Jeff can't wait till they're old enough to recite the answers.
Q: If an elephant didn't have a trunk, how would he smell?
A: Trunk or no trunk, he'd still smell terrible.
Q: What do elephants do for laughs?
A: They sit around and tell people jokes.
Q: What do elephants have that no other animal has?
A: Baby Elephants!
Q: How can you tell if there's an elephant hiding in your refrigerator?
A: The door is slightly ajar.
Q: How do you catch an elephant?
A: You hide in the grass and make a noise like a peanut.
Q: Why can't an elephant ride a bicycle?
A: Because he doesn't have a thumb to ring the bell!
A: How do you stop a herd of elephants from charging?
A: Take away their credit cards.
Q: What do you do if an elephant eats you?
A: Run around until you're pooped out!
Q: How do you know when there's an elephant on your back during a tornado?
A: You can hear his ears flapping in the wind.
Q: What did Vaughn say when he saw the elephants coming down the path?
A: "Here come the elephants."
Q: What did Jude say he saw the elephants coming down the path wearing sunglasses?
A: Nothing. (He didn't recognize them.)