Project Elephant
Since 2009, I've been making an original artwork to donate to the North Carolina Zoo. The artwork is auctioned off at their annual event "Zoo-to-do". The funds from
this highly anticipated event goes towards the zoo and the foundations they sponsor. Companies and artists around North Carolina donate and sponsor this event.
3 years in a row I've donated paintings such as "Arctic Sovereign" and "Lunar Light". But  paintings don't sell well at this event.
Inspired by the works of local sculptors, and with the need to challenge myself, I've decided to make a large gourd sculpture...

Not just any gourd sculpture.

A life sized one. A baby elephant.
She started with a gourd base. 23 large gourds, provided by my grandmother Yvonne Spinks in Trinity, NC. I assembled the gourds with various high grade adhesives, wooden dowels for
internal support, and expanding foam to keep hollow gourds more solid. The process started February 15th and took around 21 hours. Here I am standing beside the gourd "skeleton".
Here the jaw is attached with nylon string. It will be removed for the next phase.
After the gourds were assembled, Phase 2 began. I had to build up the form to more elephant-like proportions. I used around 100 pieces of waded blank newsprint and 6 rolls of masking tape to
make a solid, smooth form. I left the head and feet unfinished so I could sculpt them with air drying clay during Phase 3. The bulking up process took 15 hours and began February 28th. As you
can see the workspace is my father's (Ricky Bevan, of Ricky Bevan Construction) workshop. It was the only space big enough to accommodate her size. Messy but I'll take what I can get!
All artwork and information (C) to Cara Bevan and Art from the Heart.   
Refer to
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Phase 3 was next, sculpting details. It began March 6th and continued to the beginning of April. Using exactly 39 pounds of air drying clay I added details to the underlying form to create
realistic textures and proportions. Glass taxidermy eyes gave it the realistic gaze and wire mesh layered with clay gave the ears its shape and rigidity. I used the same three tools the entire
time. A ceramic rib to compress the clay and create the wrinkles, a sponge for texture, and a sharp lined tool for finer details. Sculpting took 46 hours.
See more photos of Phase 3 here!
Kitty approves
Close Up
After the clay was dry and hard on April 17th, it was time to paint. It took 11 hours to figure out the correct tones of greys that looked natural. It was trial and error for most of it, and two full
bottles of black and white paint later she was done. I used a little burnt umber, red, and yellow as color accents and the rest was various greys. I used a light brush to accent the wrinkles. The
paint was then sealed and she was ready. She looked complete, but there was one more thing to do...
Hair!
She wasn't complete without a hairy tail, eyelashes, and an adorable hairdo of brown horsehair. The black and brown horsehair was provided by family and our own pet horse
Daisy. Each hair was placed by hand and glued into place. This took 9 hours, making the total work hours 103. She was officially completed May 3rd, 2012. She weighs 38
pounds and is 30 inches tall, 19 inches wide, and 40.5 inches long.
My gourd baby was donated to the North Carolina Zoo. She was auctioned September 8th, 2012, for $1,100! Personally, she should've gone for much more. But it's
more than the zoo had before. I hope the new owner takes great care of her!

More impressive gourd sculptures to come soon!
NC Zoo Art