Brown Bear Turns 50: Picture Book Endpapers Display Wall
In honor of three big events this fall surrounding Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?—the 50th Anniversary of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s acclaimed collaboration, The Carle’s pop-up exhibition Brown Bear Everywhere (August 13 - October 9, 2016), and The Carle’s gallery exhibition Brown Bear Turns 50 (September 13, 2016 - March 19, 2017)—the Art Studio recreated the endpapers of this iconic book. Constructing them in a larger-than-life scale required careful planning and lots of helping hands.
Our first step was to cover our wall with 36” wide white paper from a roll. Instead of collaging directly on the white background, we tore thirty-two strips from the white paper roll. In order to cover the wall, each of the colors represented in the endpapers, except white, was four strips long. (We decided to create the white strip using the negative space between two colors as Eric Carle did in the book.) Creating the display in pieces allowed us to work at a table whenever one of our staff had a few free minutes, and without disruption to any guest who might be working near the wall.
Next, we gathered large sheets of tissue paper in the colors of the endpapers and tore the short edges of the strips where they would overlap, since hard edges would be obvious once they were installed on the wall.
We created an adhesive mixture out of 1 part liquid laundry starch and 1 part tempera paint in whichever color we were working with. After coating one of the thirty-two strips with the adhesive, we lightly crinkled large sheets of tissue and placed it into the adhesive. Letting the paper crease and buckle wherever it wanted mimicked the visual texture in Carle’s endpaper art. Tearing the tissue paper after it was placed on the strips also helped create uneven edges that are characteristic of the endpapers.
Once the individual strips were collaged and dried, it was time to put them up! We started with attaching the strips with pins, to make sure all the strips fit together well on the wall. We ended up patching a lot of gaps because the paper strips shrunk while drying.
After another round of edge tearing referencing Brown Bear, we substituted staples for pins, and called it a day!
Our large scale recreation of Eric Carle’s endpaper art has been a hit so far in the studio. We hope you stop by and see for yourself!
Thanks to the fabulous summer art studio student staff who help with this project and this post: Leah Henry, Jamie DeSimone, Helen Austin, and Anne Hayes!