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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Late Father Goose


Father Goose, His Book was the first book by L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow, and it was a runaway success in 1899. Due to its popularity, the book was kept in publication for many years - first by the original publisher, George M. Hill, then by Bobbs-Merrill, and finally by Donohue & Co. Donohue was a reprint house, who produced cheaper versions of several Baum titles in the mid-teens. The book then dropped out of print and basically disappeared! Strange, in some ways, for such a popular title.

The final Donohue printings are certainly less attractive than the earlier editions of the book. On the right is a copy with a gift inscription from 1919 - "To Billy from Granddaddy". The original Hill printings had a blank spine, but in the Bobbs-Merrill years a title was added - this is still in use on this late Donohue copy. The book itself is slightly smaller than the original printing, and on a heavier, coarser paper, making for a thicker book.

Sadly, the printing of Denslow's whimsical illustrations is not nearly as crisp as in earlier editions - due in part to the cheap paper. On the left, the lower image is from the Donohue book, showing the muting of the background color and a choppy edge on the red circle. This picture also shows how the text had changed - the rather cruel rhyme about Polly the parrot was dropped from the book in its sixth printing.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Dorothy and Friends

In last week's post, I mentioned that we created a glass piece for our presentation on stained glass at OzCon. This panel was inspired by the original dust jacket of The Road To Oz, and shows Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion. It was designed to show many different glass techniques in a piece we could carry on the plane to the convention, and included painting, detailed piecework, plating and sandblasting. Specialty glasses such as iridescent glass and drapery glass were also used.

All stained glass starts with a pattern, which is drawn up to the full size of the finished piece. Glass is selected, cut and fit using a light table to keep track of how the finished piece will light. Painting is done with powdered minerals, which are fired into the glass to become permanent. Details are worked into the paint through scratching away and manipulating the dry pigment.

This short video shows how a layer of color is applied to the glass. After painting and firing the more detailed line work, color is brushed on and then quickly spread and matted into a thin layer. This can then be manipulated, removed to create highlights, and fired. Several layers and firings may be used to build up a tone and finish a piece.

Plating is a process of applying a second layer of glass to the assembled piece. This is a way to create more depth and color variation than is present in a single piece of glass. On this panel, Dorothy's face and dress were plated - the photo on the right shows the pieces before assembly. The detail on the neck of Dorothy's dress was created by sandblasting a pattern into a piece of flash glass (clear glass with a thin layer of color on one side), then plating it behind a piece of semi-translucent ripple glass. Working out details of this sort are the fun part of creating in stained glass!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

OzCon 2015

This past weekend was OzCon, in San Diego. I've been asked what happens at an Oz convention, and really it's basically like any other gathering of the sort - there are presentations, special guests, dealers selling Oz items (winged monkey on the left created by Joe Phillips), as well as an auction, costumes, etc. - but the real heart of the convention is the opportunity to catch up with friends and acquaintances that you may not have an opportunity to see otherwise! It's easy to see why people return year after year.

On Friday morning at the convention, Irwin and I gave an hour long talk on the Oz themed stained glass panels we have been creating at our studio for the past 30 years. The presentation was illustrated with projections of our work which included pieces we created for Books of Wonder in the 1980's & 90's and continued to the larger windows we have been making in recent years.
On Saturday, I was also part of a panel that discussed collecting original Oz art.

One of the primary themes of the convention was the 30th anniversary of the Disney movie Return to Oz. Highlights at the convention included cast and production members as special guests, as well as examples of costumes and set models on display.

Next year's convention will be held in Portland, Oregon - further details can be found here.