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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hare-Brained Bunnies

Here for Easter is a magazine page of artwork by John R. Neill - The Hare-Brained Bunnies' Easter Party. These wonderful vignettes are a great collection of the Neill rabbits of this period!

This piece was published in Pictorial Review magazine in April, 1918. The original artwork for the top drawing of the rabbit band (or Pussyfoot Chorus), is still in the Neill family (see image below), and was featured in Illustration magazine in 2006. At that point it was listed as an unknown magazine illustration, but we can see how it was used. It's a pity that the Pictorial Review page wasn't printed in full color!

These drawings are closely related to Neill's cover of Pictorial Review magazine from 1916, and the series of bunny musician postcards that seem to date from the early 1920's.
In the 1922 Oz book, Kabumpo in Oz, one of the main characters is a rabbit named Wag, who could have stepped out of this series. I don't think I've run across any of these bunnies after that point in the early 1920's, which is too bad - they're great little characters!

I'm particularly fond
of The Egg Dance!

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Oz Art

One of the results of a new Oz movie opening, has been several gallery shows of Oz-inspired artwork. It's always fun to see different perceptions of familiar characters and stories!

There are two shows running currently that I am aware of. One is Not in Kansas Anymore: A Tribute to The Wizard of Oz at Nucleus, a gallery in Alhambra, CA. If you click on this link, you can visit their website and view the pieces that are on display and for sale.

Another exhibit called Visions of Oz: A Celebration of Art from Over the Rainbow is being held in Los Angeles, at the Heritage Square Museum. There doesn't seem to be an online gallery to view for this show, but a number of pieces from the exhibit are being run through eBay, by Creature Features. These can be seen by clicking on this link, and clicking the eBay auction link at the top of the web page.

I couldn't resist adding this small set of the four friends, as painted by artist Tony Lombardo, to my collection. They look like they stopped in at a photo booth while visiting the Emerald City!

These particular images were also used in the advertising for the show. Love those green glasses!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Great & Powerful

The first new major Oz movie in a generation opened this past weekend, to good box office and varying reviews. I avoided as much of the pre-publicity and hype as I could, in order to approach the film without too many preconceptions. I saw it this past week and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it!

I'll admit my expectations were not high, and the story certainly pays greater homage to the 1939 film than the book series. L. Frank Baum created a back story for Oz in his early books - key points include the arrival of the Wizard by balloon, a confrontation with the Witch of the West in her own part of the land, the usurpation of the throne and kidnapping of Princess Ozma, and the building of the Emerald City before retiring into seclusion. Of course, Baum also contradicted himself on a regular basis - did the Wizard build the Emerald City, or were the rulers of Oz already living there when he arrived? Was Ozma kidnapped by the Wizard or the witch Mombi? These many little mysteries and inconsistencies are part of what I enjoy in the original Oz books.

Disney didn't make much use of Baum's own history of the land, but did come up with a splashy story that doesn't ask to be taken too seriously - something Oz fans are often too prone to do!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ruby Slippers 2

Here's the finished pair of ruby slippers. This has been an interesting project that I don't think I'm anxious to repeat any time soon!

For those interested in some details - the shoes are vintage 1930's size 5 1/2, and there are around 2500 sequins sewn on silk overlays attached to each shoe. The bows each contains 46 rhinestones, 3 central glass stones and varying numbers of bugle beads. The sequins are metallic 5mm flat sequins, which have been aged ( I didn't age them myself and don't know the process). There are some details that I haven't done - adding an Innes Shoe Co. label inside the right shoe, gluing felt on the soles or adding Judy Garland's name inside the shoe. I still may do some of this.

There is debate over whether the original shoes used metallic or transparent sequins. Here's a link to an interesting article concerning the sequins on the slippers - Why do they look like that?

Here's a fascinating blog covering one slipper maker's process - The Ruby Slippers Project. I took a different route, but there are still a number of good reference points.

Another interesting site is The Ruby Slipper Fan Club . Here you can find more information on the various original shoes, see other reproductions and view a helpful blueprint containing a number of useful measurements.

I found Etsy to be a very useful site for finding supplies - particularly the Dreamer of Oz shop, which has had various helpful things.

So, if you're feeling inspired, why not give it a shot? It's certainly a project you'll remember!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ruby Slippers

Although I'm a fan, I'm not a great collector of the 1939 MGM film version of The Wizard of Oz. But there is something fascinating about the ruby slippers! The last pair offered at auction sold for 2 million dollars (Correction - the shoes did not actually sell at auction, the reserve was not met - check the comments below for further info on this), and they are one of the most readily recognized Hollywood props. Four original pairs are known to exist, but the fate of one pair is unknown, since it was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum several years ago.

This year I've been working on replicating the slippers in order to have a pair in my collection. Creating slipper replicas is a popular hobby among Oz collectors, and people approach the project in a variety of ways. Methods and materials can be hotly debated, as to what is most accurate to the original shoes, but in each case the end result is a shining pair of ruby slippers.

My goal was to try making the shoes along the same lines as the originals. This means creating silk overlays which are hand sequined and then attached to the shoes. I'm no stranger to time consuming projects, but I have to say that I've found this to be one of the harder things I've tried - I just don't seem to be naturally compatible with sequins!

The most important part in my mind is finding an appropriate pair of shoes. It's possible to have a custom pair of shoes made for this purpose, complete with an outer lining of fabric for sewing on sequins, but I wanted the look of an actual vintage shoe. It's surprisingly difficult to come up with the right heel height and style of shoe, but I finally did run across a pair that is almost perfect. The original shoes vary a bit from one to the next, and range from size 5 to size 6. I'm using a pair of size 5 1/2 silk pumps, from the time period of the movie. After removing the shoe clips, they were ready to be colored red and turned into a pair of the most famous shoes in history!
Now I just have to finish the other shoe....