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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Whirlpool

At the beginning of The Scarecrow of Oz, L. Frank Baum's Oz book for 1915, the characters Trot and Cap'n Bill are captured by a whirlpool while out boating. This incident starts their series of adventures, leading them to the land of Oz.

John R. Neill drew a vivid image of the whirlpool, complete with sea nymph rising from the foam. About a year and a half ago, I drew this up to be made into a stained glass window, and it has finally been produced.
Here are a series of photos showing the procedure for creating the window.
The first step is to draw the full size pattern, or cartoon, for the window. This obviously was based on Neill's illustration. We then color in the cartoon to help differentiate areas of the window - the color scheme isn't always what we intend for the final piece.
We cut and fit the glass, and the face and body pieces are painted and fired in a kiln. Glass paint is actually powdered minerals, mixed together with certain oils, or in this case with water and gum arabic. Each layer of paint is fired before applying the next. This picture shows 3 palettes of paint, and the glass muller which is used to grind and mix the pigment.
After cutting and fitting, each piece of glass is wrapped with a thin copper foil. This will hold the finished window together. 
The copper wrapped pieces are soldered together, the window is cleaned, the lead lines darkened and voila! - a finished window.

This makes a good companion piece to the Polychrome window we created a couple years ago!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Montgomery Ward

Here's another example of work done by W. W. Denslow for Montgomery Ward. This is a pamphlet from 1897 celebrating the 25th anniversary of the mail order company, the first of its kind. On the cover we have Uncle Sam, in the guise of a mailman, collecting an order from a farmer, working in his field - farmers were one of the core customers for the company.

The booklet is quite small, about 3.5" by 6".  As it was a silver anniversary, the cover is a shining metallic silver, printed in blue. The brilliance of the silver can make the delicate drawing difficult to see in bright light!

Denslow provided a number of spot illustrations for the story, which told of the origins of the firm. The drawings are very small and not very well printed, similar in style to newspaper work the artist had done. My favorite is this boy emptying the mailbag of orders for Montgomery Ward!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An Oz Scarf

Wizard of Oz head scarves were among the many items manufactured at the time of the 1939 MGM film. These were produced by Brian Fabrics, and there are three different designs that I'm aware of. This is an example of one, a whimsical pattern filled with Oz imagery. Whenever I see this, it makes me think of a game board!

I had not seen this color scheme before, although another of the same has popped up on eBay. I don't know how many color variations were made for this particular design, but I have seen 3 others so far. 
There are interesting errors in the character vignettes; I like this one in particular, where the Wizard has joined Glinda to greet Dorothy on her arrival!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Passing Show

The Passing Show of 1913 was one of an annual series of elaborate Broadway reviews, that parodied recent shows as well as presenting extravagant new production numbers. The series ran from 1912 to 1926, (Correction - the show was run by the Shuberts during this period. It started in 1894. See comment below), and was designed to compete with the popular Ziegfield Follies. This is an original stage photo from the production, a fun image that could almost be considered as Oz twice removed.
 One show chosen to lampoon was a hit from the 1912 season, The Lady of the Slipper, which starred Fred Stone and David Montgomery. This was a version of Cinderella, with a score by Victor Herbert. In this version of the story, Cinderella is accompanied to the ball by a pair of attendants, named Punks and Spooks. Punks, played by Montgomery, was a jack o' lantern brought to life, while Spooks was a scarecrow blown in through the window.

Spooks was played by Stone, who took the opportunity to reprise his famous Oz Scarecrow from 10 years earlier. The characters do not remain in these forms for long, being transformed into a coachman and footman. The color images shown here are from a souvenir program for the show, courtesy of Bill Thompson.

The Passing Show opened its first act with a spoof of this story. The top photo shows Freddie Nice, Laura Hamilton and Charles DeHaven as Spooks, Cinderella and Punks. A key sheet of photos from this show is in the New York Public Library's digital archive, and includes this image as well as another from the same segment. It appears that Cinderella's attendants are transformed for the ball, but she remains in her rags!
 The show was large and included in the cast was Grace Kimball, who had played several roles in The Wizard of Oz. Also included was Charlotte Greenwood; she would play Queen Ann of Oogaboo later the same year, in The Tik Tok Man of Oz. The photo on the right shows the actress performing one of her trademark high kicks!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Early Denslow

Here's an early example of advertising work by W. W. Denslow, the original illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This is one of a set of postcards depicting several Roman Gods as babies, from 1884. This particular card shows a baby Pluto, complete with metallic gold flame and menacing bat. I think it's my favorite of the series.

These were produced for stores to use, adding their own names and addresses - in this case it was the druggist, Frank Butler. Which immediately makes me think of Annie Oakley - but this Frank Butler was a storekeeper in Bellefontaine, Ohio, not a Wild West Show attraction.

The card doesn't bear a Denslow signature, and is very different from the work he would become known for in later years. Several examples of other cards from this series are currently available from Wonderful Books of Oz.