In 2011, Greg and I totally rocked our Christmas presents to each other. With his gift to me, I became a proud owner of the greatest football franchise of all time, the Green Bay Packers. Yep, I’m a real shareholder in my home-state team, with voting rights and access to a special owner’s only area of the pro shop. The gift was completely unexpected, and I love being a part of the team.
With my gift to him, Greg became the proud father of two orphaned African elephants. I realized how much Greg loved elephants thanks to Pinterest. After I get done looking at all the pretty quilts and craft projects, I start browsing through other categories. And anytime a baby elephant would pop up on my screen, Greg stopped whatever he was doing to get a closer look. When it came time to start thinking about Christmas, I remembered an Oprah show I saw with Kristin Davis, of Sex and the City fame, talking about an elephant orphanage. After a bit of digging, I found the place—The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
The Trust protects animals in Kenya, but they are best known for hand-rearing orphaned elephants. Many of these elephants are orphaned when their mothers and the rest of their herds fall victim to poachers. Through the Trust, you can foster the elephant of your choice, choosing from the dozens of elephants they have in their care. The two elephants I decided on for Greg were Ishaq-B, an older girl, and Kithaka, a young boy.
Over the past years, we have loved keeping up with the growth of our elephants, thanks to the Trust’s Facebook page and monthly e-mail updates with details on each elephant. We’ve gotten to know their personalities, too. Ishaq-B was a troubled girl, getting into fights with other elephants, but now she has matured into one of the mother-figure elephants at the orphanage. We started fostering Kithaka shortly after he arrived at the orphanage and saw him struggle through the teething process without his mother’s milk (teething is a very dangerous time in an elephant’s life, it turns out). But once he came through that, he became an incredibly loveable guy—mischievous, a bit of a show-off, the runt of the litter, and the one who can be found chasing the poor gazelle at the Trust.
Since the elephants are a big part of our lives, I like to give Greg elephant-themed gifts once in a while, too. So for his birthday this year, I made these elephant place mats.
They each measure 12.5 x 17 inches. I sewed strips of fabrics that Greg had mentioned that he liked to form that background of each. Then I used a pattern from a free download I had gotten from Interweave’s Sew Daily for the elephants.
I’m not super experienced with applique or with my pack of Lite Steam-a-Seam 2, so the process wasn’t without incident. Despite reading the instructions for the umpteenth time, I still drew one of the elephants on the wrong side of the fusible. I didn’t realize this until after I had cut it out, however, so one of the elephant shapes has fusible under it and one doesn’t. I have to say, the fusible does help a lot in keeping the shape stable and easy to handle. And the shape without the fusible is starting to fray a bit already.
To see some of the amazing elephants at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, check out their Facebook page. And maybe consider adding an elephant to your family, too.