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The Elephant Story

Order Always Keep Your Elephants Calm

Once upon a time, while raising two teenage daughters alone, I had a home based cottage industry. A niche market of miniature quilt making and finely sewn quilted accessories. While sewing, I would listen to the radio and it would usually be NPR (being the conflicted liberal I am). The term multitasking was coined back then and that's what I was good at. Enriching my brain with Terri Gross and Ira Glass, hands busy sewing, throwing motherly side bar(b)s to those two teenage girls in the background. In the background they never stayed though. Egos, hormones and tempers flared in those days. The interview this day was about training elephants by nonviolent means. No pain or electric prods here. So, the first order of business was to keep the elephant calm; I guess in preparation of trusting the trainer, and of course, who would want to work with an agitated elephant. The suggestion seemed more significant because the male trainers voice was distinctly British with undertones of feminine sensibilities. Well, my little darlings were hurling mixed metaphors and discarded Beanie babies over my head and one of them must have hit me because I was struck with an epiphany on child rearing: "Always Keep Your Elephants Calm." My elephants were those girls!

Immediately, my mind set out to put a picture to those words. That’s what I do, I try to "illuminate" words and ideas. It wasn’t until a year later and the editing of dozens of sketches that I decided to illustrate the sentiment by making it look like a page from a Victorian Primer. This put the weight of history behind it and gave the importance of a published document. The image and text immediately took on a life of it’s own, obviously coming through me, not by me, as the saying goes. Everyone who saw it had their own interpretation of the text.

The image was originally drawn on a zinc plate and etched in nitric acid. I was able to pull about 200 prints over a few years. I re-coated the plate with asphaltum, redrew the image and re-etched the plate, enabling me to hand pull 200 more prints. The plate was so compromised at this point that I had to put it to rest. But the demand for the image continued. I accepted the inevitable and took the plunge into the world of reproductions. The print that you see now is an archival reproduction created with pigment dye on watercolor paper; mounted and matted on acid-free mat board and foam board. The sentiment is still yours to interpret.

Sincerely, Elizabeth Andrews

Elizabeth Andrews Etchings, 110 Ruskin Ave, Syracuse NY 13207 phone 585-278-8160

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