Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


This is a little late for Valentine's Day, but I've just purchased another postcard. This was offered on eBay recently, and I couldn't pass it up as it's one of the more unusual valentines I've seen!

This is a handmade card, undated but certainly vintage, perhaps from the 1920's. The creator has cut the figure from one of W. W. Denslow's Thanksgiving postcards and added a heart to make it holiday appropriate.

Something about the leering man with his ax, eyeing up the heart, makes one wonder why someone thought this made a good valentine. Personally, I think it's hysterical; it just needs "or else" added! It gets better on the reverse, as this was apparently given to Will from Jack. I suppose it was an alternative to anything too romantic...or maybe Jack was sending Will a message!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Souvenirs of 1903

Here are a couple more pieces related to the 1903 Wizard of Oz stage production. When You Love, Love, Love is a song with a lyric by L. Frank Baum, which was sung in the show by Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman. It was felt by critics to be one of the hits of the show, and is shown on the right. I think the sheet music cover is surprisingly plain, in spite of the ornate lettering. After all, this was a glittering production with plenty of memorable images!

The program on the left is from the week of February 23rd, 1903 - about a month after the show opened in New York. Theater programs of the period were not the splashy things they are today - the program cover advertises the theater rather than the performance. A synopsis of the show is included inside, together with the cast listings, etc. The synopsis does a good job of condensing the somewhat convoluted plot of the show.

Without the hit Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz in 1903, there might never have been an Oz series. That same year the original book was published in a new edition with a new title, shown at the right, and in 1904 The Marvelous Land of Oz was released. The show had been such a success, it inspired L. Frank Baum to write the sequel, with an eye towards another stage adaptation. The stage version of this second book did not succeed, but the book helped pave the way for future titles.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Scarecrow & Scraps

A while back, I posted images of the Patchwork Girl I made from a couple vintage quilt squares. Since then, I decided to give it another try, making a few changes, and this time creating the patchwork myself from new fabrics which would be much sturdier than the vintage material. Overall, she turned out pretty well, and is much sturdier than my first attempt!

When I posted pictures of the first Scraps, it was suggested that I try making a Scarecrow figure as a companion — so I've given it a shot. His head is basically a painted sack, and raffia has stood in for straw. There are a few things I'd do differently, (he's a little on the thin side), and I've already started on another variation, but he didn't turn out too badly.

It is fun to see these creatures in three dimensions and made as described in the Oz books (more or less). They have an eerie quality that I really didn't expect, and, due to their cheerful personalities in the books, don't personally tend to associate with the characters. I'll have to try another celebrity, possibly the Tin Woodman or Jack Pumpkinhead!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Caroline Siedle

Caroline Siedle (1867 - 1907) was one of the first women in America to become a well known stage costume designer. From the mid-1890s until her early death in 1908, she designed costumes for many musicals, including the 1903 production of The Wizard of Oz. Julian Mitchell, the director of The Wizard who also worked with her in Babes in Toyland and other productions, is quoted as saying: "Without her assistance I should never have been able to carry out the musical comedy color schemes which have made beautiful stage pictures. Her taste was always good, and her ability to design amounted to genius."

Some of the original costume designs from The Wizard of Oz survive in public collections. I'm excited to have the one which I'm showing, a design for the Cooks in the chorus of the opening number of the third act. It's certainly a whimsical design - note the silverware in the brim of the hat, the kettle on the bodice and the ample display of the chorus girl's legs. Traces of the original pencil sketch remain under the finished painting, showing that the shorts/apron combo was originally a bit longer - down to the knees. On the rear of the drawing is a list of eight actresses who played cooks, including their measurements for costuming purposes. Only four cooks are listed in the program for the show, so perhaps some of these were alternates?

The photo I'm showing is from Mark Evan Swartz's fascinating book Before The Rainbow, which examines early theatrical productions of Oz. The actress shown is Lola Gordan, and her name is among those on the back of the drawing. The cooks were part of the chorus of Waitresses, Cooks and Laundresses that supported the Scarecrow in his rendition of The Traveler and the Pie, one of the songs using a lyric by L. Frank Baum. This number eventually opened Act Three of the show, and was placed in a setting with a color scheme of lilac and silver, reflected in the colors of the costume design.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is currently mounting an exhibition through May 2nd called Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance. Among the pieces being shown is another costume design by Siedle for Act Three of the Wizard, this one for the Witches of the Wind. I've copied it from advertising for the show and posted it on the left - it's a lovely piece. I hope to take a look at the exhibit when I'm in New York in March.