I saved Berthe Morisot’s best for last …
It is said to be her most famous art work.
This is a tender painting of Berthe’s own sister Edma gently contemplating her new baby, painted in 1872.
We had looked at it before during this month and talked about Berthe’s transparent painting of the lace and veils that flow over the cradle.
I felt that this painting was simple enough for a collage.
Once again, I traced an outline of the print from our book, and enlarged it to fill a page.
I dumped out all our bags of scrap materials and lace on our floor and table, as well as some felt off-cuts and balls of wool, and asked the girls to make a collage.
I told them it did not have to be realistic or even represent the painting. They were free to interpret the collage as they felt was best.
We all made several “mistakes” (I prefer to call them “creative discoveries“) as we went along and we all felt that it would have been better if we had known which areas to collage first.
My youngest child became frustrated trying to trace the outlines on thicker material at times, but we were all engrossed in the activity and felt happy with the results.
So here’s how to do Berthe’s The Cradle in collage.
- Cover all the background areas first; the walls and even the window. We colored in areas and /or used thin fabric scraps.
- We learnt how best to draw the outlines – Start on an edge and align the fabric. Trace the nearest lines, lifting and looking under it as you go along to see where the line leads. Cut that line out and place the fabric down carefully and continue along the area, lifting and drawing the lines until the piece is cut to fit.
- It is best to use white seamstress chalk or soft white pencil to outline dark material and use an ordinary lead pencil to trace lines on light-colored fabric.
- Do the curtains next. We used 2 and even 3 layers of netting.
- I added a split pin/ brad for the curtain tie-back. I actually draped my curtain around this. My youngest child used buttons for her tie-back.
- We did the mother’s face and neck and the hand that cups her chin next. I had to remove her hand that rests on the cradle to place the blankets under the hand, so leave her hand until you have done the cradle.
- Next we added her dress and lace at the cuffs and neckline. We found it looked best to cut out the sleeves separately.
- Now we added her hair. We wound wool around 2 fingers and then spread these loops to form her hairstyle.
- Next, we covered the cradle inside and the behind veil and fabric that flows over the edge. We glued the material so that it ruffled and wrinkled. We used strong clear adhesive glue.
- Now for the baby in the cradle. We first made the cushion.
- Then made baby clothes.
- We added the top cover or blanket.
- Now we glued the baby’s hand and then the head. We added fine details such as the eyes and mouth with brown felt-tipped pens.
- Some added hair. I used felt-tipped pen to draw hair on mine.
- Again I used a split pin/ brad for the brass cradle stand. We used gold cord for the stand.
- We draped several layers of netting over the baby in the cradle.
- Lastly we added the mother’s face details.
I really encourage you to find a way to enjoy your art appreciation lessons and allow your children to engage personally with the masterpiece. It does NOT mean that you have to do art lessons.
In making this collage we enjoyed a creative process that placed the details of the painting clearly in our hearts and minds.