Creative Design: Graduate

Ivory and Irony

  • Constance R Spotts (Iowa State University)
  • Eulanda A. Sanders (Iowa State University)


In 1869, the production of billiard balls from ivory was threatening to exterminate the elephant population. A challenge was issued for a suitable substitute for ivory.  The answer was celluloid, the first industrial plastic (Schifter, 2019 and Peake, 2018). Over the last 150 years, the plastic inclusion in nearly every market has been prolific, with less than 10% recycled. I wondered if a wearable art piece could be designed that brought the plastic plague back into discussion? The chosen design was a toddler's dress centered around an elephant created out of its nemesis. By using authentic African fabrics and Uganda straw weaving with the use of plastic grocery bags as the subject matter, the design brings the issue of the elephant into full view for a discussion to be had by all viewers.  

Keywords: Africa, Plastic Waste, Elephants, Children’s Wear

How to Cite:

Spotts, C. R. & Sanders, E. A., (2022) “Ivory and Irony”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 79(1). doi:

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Published on
31 Dec 2022
Peer Reviewed