Every once in a while you find an idea that you absolutely love, something that jumps out and smacks you in the face! When I first started the mood board for our guest room I wasn’t sure on a lot of things… the color palette was up in the air, the decorations were uncertain, everything was undecided except for the furniture.
Then I found Eyan the Elephant. At first I thought I wanted a large deer head (I mean one cardboard animal head is just as good as the next and the pictures on Pinterest convinced me a deer was a great idea) but upon further investigation I figured out that what I truly wanted was an elephant head!
It’s really not surprising though… take a look at how cute this guy is!
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The best part about cardboard is how easily customizable it is! I absolutely love the shape but once I decided on a color palette I needed a great way to incorporate all of the colors throughout the room. Luckily I have an easy solution: wallpaper samples!
They’re free, come in a fantastic range of colors and apply to cardboard like a dream. How fabulous is that?
One Cardboard Animal Head
Chip Brush (or foam brush… the main point is that it’s disposable!)
Snap Off Utility Knife
The very first thing I did was to detach all of the cardboard pieces from the boards they come on and organize them. They’re all conveniently labeled so it was super easy to lay them out in order (#1 being the smallest all the way up to #25!).
Now if you choose to wallpaper your animal in one continuous pattern or if you have a different pattern for each sheet you may not need to do this step… but if you’re trying to spread out your color palette laying your pieces out in chronological order is very important.
For example, I wanted my pieces to have a variety of navy, silver and sage. So by laying them out in order I was able to insure that two navy pieces weren’t touching or two silver pieces. I was also able to insure that over 70% of Eyan was sage green… which was important to my room design.
Bottom line: when planning your wallpaper sample order make sure to take into account where on the elephant your colors will be.
Bonus Tip: If you lay each piece out on your wallpaper samples first you can make sure that each cardboard piece fits it’s designated wallpaper sample! Then you can fit the smaller cardboard pieces into the negative space! Plus you’ll be able to insure that duplicate pieces (like your ears or tusks) have the same pattern.
Once you’ve decided which wallpaper sample goes where it’s time to glue! Go ahead and cut a loose outline of your shape into your wallpaper sample… I simply traced with my exacto knife about an inch from the cardboard.
I tried to leave my very first wallpaper piece intact and soon learned that the larger your wallpaper piece is the harder it is to get the edges adhered properly! Basically a piece of wallpaper that is roughly the same size as your cardboard piece helps all the edges to glue properly. I don’t know the technical reason for this but trust me… it works.
My second tip is to place your glue directly on the wallpaper… and then press your cardboard firmly onto the wallpaper sample. Go ahead and press all those edges down firmly… just to get an extra good seal!
Bonus Tip: Make sure you glue the blank cardboard side to the wallpaper… your little tiny numbers need to be visible so don’t glue them down! Otherwise you will have the hardest time putting these pieces in order for the final put together!
Once all of your pieces are glued down go ahead and cut the excess off from around the sides… and the little slots in the middle! The inside cuts don’t have to be perfect since you’ll be covering them with a different cardboard piece later.
I used a simple technique to cut the rectangular spots from the middle of each cardboard piece. The first step is to mark the top of the rectangle from the back. See how I place the tip of my exacto knife against the corner and then press down?
Now that I have two guide lines (one for the left and one for the right) I flip my cardboard piece over to the front. Now all I have to do is follow the cardboard down the entire space… don’t push just let the knife guide your hand. 9 times out of 10 it will try to follow the cardboard underneath.
Of course if that’s not working I find that holding your piece up to the light will give you a back-lit effect to cut a clean line
The final step is to cut the excess paper free! Easy peasy!
As for the sides… here’s a quick video on how I cut out each and everyone! I don’t know what y’all call it but it reminds me of cutting wrapping paper at Christmas! Go ahead and make your first cut and then let your blade glide along the edge all the way down… just like wrapping paper!
Once all of your pieces are cut that’s it! You’re done! Now you can follow the instructions to put together your very own cardboard animal head… or you can watch while your hubby does it! It looked super easy but since I conned him into cutting out half of my pieces he was fully invested in the project at this point… and he really wanted to assemble little Eyan all on his own!
I did get to put a few pieces of the trunk on though! They were easy!
Well?!? Do you love him as much as I do? He’s the perfect accent for my little room… quirky but still sophisticated! Yup… that’s a thing! Of course, the best part is that the wallpaper samples I used blend perfectly with the colors for the room. When deciding on wallpaper swatches I grabbed a color swatch in the same shade as our furniture and matched each sample against it. If the color wasn’t close enough we didn’t use it! Simple as that!
Of course since I was working with discontinued wallpaper books I couldn’t be too picky… but there are plenty to pick from! Since Eyan is so funky I decided to go with fairly traditional patterns to go with the furniture. Toile, stripes, french script, filigree… nothing too modern or funky here! When blending two different styles (modern: elephant, traditional: bedset) it’s best to pick a few elements from each style so that they work together a little easier.
I mean just look at that toile! The color is dead on!
The best part of this little elephant is the sentimental value. My Nana (my great-grandmother) lived in India for a time and as a little girl I loved to listen to her stories of the elephants. She collected them and you could find elephant pictures and items all over her sweet little house. I suppose that’s why elephants always make me smile… and why I chose Eyan the Elephant over Bucky the Buck.
I even decorated the dresser top with items that remind me of Nana… a little tiny elephant box that she gave me and an atlas that use to be hers.
When I was a little girl just learning to sew I made her a stuffed bunny rabbit and she absolutely loved that thing. Kept it on her bed every single night! She would have been tickled pink with a cardboard elephant head!
Just like me.