"Seen the elephant"

  • Advertise with us
Project by mpounders posted 11-05-2018 04:01 PM 954 views 2 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

“I’ve seen the elephant” is a western expression dating from around the mid 1830s.

The expression to see the elephant has several related meanings, which have to do with the idea of an elephant as a remarkable thing that one could see, or to see or experience all that one can endure; to see enough. This may come from the idea that once you have seen an elephant, no other sight could be as interesting. The major sense of the phrase is ‘to gain worldly experience; learn a lesson; lose one’s innocence; see remarkable sights’. An additional meaning refers to seeing combat, especially for the first time; to confront sudden death.
This long- winded introduction is for this bust I did in a class with Vic Hood. Vic encouraged us that our carvings should tell a story, to invoke a feeling in the viewer. As I carved this salty old sailor, I was reminded of my time in the Navy, of sights and sounds and places far away. Of lessons learned and of elephants seen. Thanks for looking!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

18 comments so far

View hunter71's profile


3276 posts in 3358 days

#1 posted 11-05-2018 04:16 PM

I have also “seen the elephant” up close. My travles around the world has shown me a lot. Great carving and insperanational message.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View Brit's profile


7520 posts in 3014 days

#2 posted 11-05-2018 04:30 PM

Wow Mike. You have really outdone yourself this time. It is awsome from every angle. When I look at his face, I want to spend time with him and listen to his stories. Was he modelled on an actual person or did you just make hime up?

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brit's profile


7520 posts in 3014 days

#3 posted 11-05-2018 04:32 PM

Also, I’d love to know what wood it is and what you did with regard to finishing it.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View mpounders's profile


894 posts in 3067 days

#4 posted 11-05-2018 04:46 PM

Thanks all! I had a photograph of an old guy, but a single photograph doesn’t help much when carving in the round, so it was never intended as a portrait. The instructor suggested making the beard more dramatic and the guy sitting beside be showed me a technique I used on the cap. The wood is butternut and I finished it first with several coats of boiled linseed oil thinned with mineral spirits. After drying for several weeks, I sprayed it with lacquer and then paste wax. Here is a picture of the block of wood I started with on the first day.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View taterjoes's profile


22 posts in 967 days

#5 posted 11-05-2018 05:07 PM

Very impressive!

-- It’s all good!

View PaulDoug's profile


1613 posts in 1875 days

#6 posted 11-05-2018 05:21 PM

Very wonderful carving. Lots of character in that face.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View Brit's profile


7520 posts in 3014 days

#7 posted 11-05-2018 05:27 PM

Thanks Mike.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Northwest29's profile


1661 posts in 2662 days

#8 posted 11-05-2018 06:39 PM

Dang Mike this is absolutely impressive work! Super well done. 10++

-- Ron, Eugene, OR, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View jbay's profile (online now)


2736 posts in 1071 days

#9 posted 11-05-2018 07:05 PM

That old guy has seen more than an elephant. He looks like he could really tell some stories.
Very realistic, good work.

-- “Hanging onto resentment, is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” (Ann Landers)......

View Underdog's profile


1207 posts in 2207 days

#10 posted 11-05-2018 07:19 PM

Wow. You really made him come to life Mike. Very impressive.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8494 posts in 2500 days

#11 posted 11-05-2018 08:04 PM

This is really a stunning carving.

Well done!

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View therealSteveN's profile


1565 posts in 746 days

#12 posted 11-05-2018 10:20 PM

Outstanding!!!! Mike you bring these guys alive.

Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the 3.

-- Think safe, be safe

View oldrivers's profile


1455 posts in 1738 days

#13 posted 11-05-2018 11:54 PM

Out standing !Love the detail to make him so realistic.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View Andrek's profile


428 posts in 2081 days

#14 posted 11-06-2018 12:12 AM

Wow I’m impressed, with the look on is face, with something alive hard to express, Bravo says everything. this is carving art.

-- andrek

View Pimzedd's profile


612 posts in 4314 days

#15 posted 11-06-2018 12:30 AM

Outstanding Mike. I am always so impressed with your work.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

showing 1 through 15 of 18 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics