Saturday, September 23, 2006

Children's Books Display - Part 6

The bear was the next character I tackled, because it was next in line in the right to left order of the display, and because it was to be the largest part of the display after the tree.

Sadly, the bear was one of the most exhaustively documented pieces of this installation, and part of the batch of photos which were deleted.

Initially, I marked out the size I wanted the bear to be (roughly a bit taller than 2 feet) on a large sheet of cardboard. Then I drew out an outline of the bear on the cardboard (front view) cut it out and built it up using wadded up batches of newspaper, some of the same thick florist's wire I used for the opossum's tail as support for the arms and legs, and a wooden block in the bear's behind, which was going to be screwed to the same base as the tree. Once I had a rough bear shape, I started to paper mache.

After the initial paper macheing was completed, I decided that the bear's snout was too teddy bear like, and so built it up into a blockier form, a bit closer to the initial concept sketch.

The paint scheme for the bear was something I was never satisfied with. I didn't want him to be painted like a real bear, as he was more whimsical looking. At the same time I didn't want his paint scheme to be too far removed from reality (I'd toyed with two shades of blue, two shades of green, and red and white) because the raccoon was fairly realistic in nature, and I thought the juxtaposition might seem jarring. I'd settled on yellow, but then decided he looked too much like Disney's version of Winnie the Pooh, so I dry brushed some umber over it, which with the yellow undercoating gave him a nice caramel or honey sheen, which seemed about right.

Originally, the bear's paws were painted on, but I thought I could do better. Using a mixture of newspaper pulp I made by tossing it into the blender with some water, and the paper mache paste, I sculpted onto the bear's muzzle a pretty good nose. I used the same pulp to build up the pads on his feet. This pulp mixture was a life saver many times on this project.

His eyes were plastic animal eyes. I opted for the plain black ones rather than more realistic brown one's with black pupils, as I felt the real ones made him look like he'd just sat on a bee, and I wanted to give his face a softer appearance.

The copy of "Blueberries For Sal" is a fake book I constructed from scratch. A reduced color photocopy of the cover was glued over a cardboard "hardcover." Blank pieces of paper were glued inside to create the illusion of pages, and an interior spread from the book was also photocopied at a reduced rate and placed over the blank pages, creating an illusion of a real book. The book was then screwed to the bear's hands through the end papers so that the screws would not be visible.

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