Calling all Caterpillars

The work of Eric Carle has always inspired me. When I was young I loved reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other books. As an adult, I feel a certain childlike excitement and curiosity when I see the pictures and think about how he made them- collaging layers of brightly painted paper, breathing life and personality into the characters. Aside from teaching children a love of books and reading, I think the most important function of children’s books is to awaken the imagination.

Here are a few of my favorite Eric Carle characters:

My husband Bill loves children’s books as much as I do, if not more. On one of our first dates, we went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst.

Recently we went again and took these lovely pictures: 

So when I saw a “call for caterpillars” by the staff of the Eric Carle Museum, asking for individuals or groups to create three-dimensional caterpillars out of found objects, I decided to make this caterpillar out of a variety of items I had in my studio:

Photo by Janine Norton

Photo by Janine Norton

If you look closely, you’ll see a key, pebbles, seashells, buttons, the end of a zipper, a hose faucet key, fabric flowers from a Hawaiian lai, fused glass pieces, broken china, handmade ceramic tiles, and a map of California. There are pennies around the edges.

Here are a few more views:

Since doing this project, I have decided to work on building a great collection of found objects. I have been looking at EVERYTHING as possible mosaic material. This is happening at a perfect time, because, with spring comes the start of Tag Sale season! I can only imagine what I’ll find, and what new and fun things show up in my work…

If you want to make your own caterpillar, or if you have a group of kids who you think would enjoy this project, click HERE for more details about the contest (deadline is May 31 so there’s plenty of time). I’ll admit, when I first read the title of the project, I thought that it was only for children, but it turns out any individual, group, class, etc can be part of this. Actually, it made me wish that I had a group of kids to do this project with. I’m sure that would have been even more fun!

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  ~Pablo Picasso

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