|Bill Woggon - Story of the Ballet|
** More pages from this book can also be found here (posted 5 May 2013) **
I bought this book on eBay and it arrived on Christmas Eve, so turned out to be a very special Christmas present to myself!
Bill Woggon's most famous creation is Kathy Keene. I also discovered while searching for this book that he illustrated the comics of 'The Archies', a favourite of mine during my tweenie years. But for me his crowning achievement was this book - The 'Story of the Ballet' - a very special childhood memory.
As an adult I'm blown away by his technical ability and draughtsmanship. This is a colouring book intended for children, but the quality of work on display is utterly sublime. Much of the appeal is because they are monochrome line drawings - done with a precise but delicate touch.
Even as a woman myself I adore Bill Woggon's depiction of the female form. These ballerinas are graceful, feminine and beautiful - but at the same time they are also quite sexy and alluring. All of this is achieved with just a few (expertly applied) pen strokes.
The Story of the Ballet was published by Saalfield in 1963/64. Illustrations are by Bill Woggon with costume design by Cassie Bill. I've decided to devote 3 posts to this book (although not necessarily consecutively) because it contains such a wealth of creativity. Today I'm featuring some of the ballerinas. There is also a storyline of two little girls who want to take ballet lessons. I found the depiction of 60's family life and values so delightful (and at times hilarious) that I decided this aspect of the book deserved a post of its own. And then finally there are paper dolls of the two children with ballet outfits to cut and colour - this will make up the third post.
Previously I featured two other ballet colouring books on my blog that I sourced and bought because they were special childhood memories (I've provided links to both at the end of this post). At the time I realised that a third book existed - this one - probably my favourite of the three. As so often happens to me I discovered a reference to this book by accident when I had forgotten all about it. Since then it has taken me a year and a half to track down a copy.
Again I managed to do this by accident. I discovered a job lot of paper dolls that were being auctioned by Mary at Best Paper Dolls Have a look at the link to her shop - she has some lovely paper doll sets on offer (I'm trying very hard not to be tempted by a few of them including a stunningly beautiful set of American Colonial paper dolls that will be on auction for the next 5 days.)
The lot that initially attracted my attention contained three sets of used/cut ballet paper dolls and this colouring book. I already have two of the other sets and was not interested in the third so I took a chance on the auction and waited until it was over. Mary then very kindly placed the book by itself in a separate auction so I was able to buy it on its own.
My copy of the book was in a combined lot because it is not in perfect condition - some of the pages have been coloured in and from memory a couple are also missing. Mary had given very specific details about the state of the book so I knew exactly what I was getting and was just thrilled to finally have a copy. As you can see from the scans I've included many of the key illustrations are untouched and perfect so it has been an absolute joy to be able to feast my eyes on these drawings again.
Below are a few more of the ballet scenes. Next time I'll include some of the family in the story.
I was about the same age as these little girls when I first owned a copy of the book. For me it had the most wonderful magical quality. I get exactly the same thrill of that magic today and these delightful illustrations are still capable of transporting me to that wonderful world of childhood dreams and imagination.
The two colouring books I've featured before are:
Thank you also for all the Christmas wishes and comments left on my last post. I hope everyone had a truly wonderful Christmas and that the New Year has started well. Today (5th January) is Twelfth Night so the 12 Days of Christmas are now officially over! Time to pack all the festive finery away and bid farewell to this special time of year.
As a parting memory I thought I'd show you a present I received that I wasn't expecting. My best friend at work gave me this stunning candle holder, designed and made here in Ireland:
I love the beautiful glow it gives to the candles and the red colour of the glass 'blooms' is both festive and sumptuous. I don't usually light candles in the chandelier above the table but for a special occasion it was nice to have the whole effect - and on a winter's day there is nothing nicer than the comforting glow of all these little twinkling lights!
Today I also discovered that Donna at Donna's Designs has posted details of the Christmas card she made for me!! You can see it here at Evergreen Tree. It was such a wonderful surprise getting this card (Donna is incredibly talented - the cards she makes are beautiful). I was thinking of including it somewhere on one of my own posts - but being able to show you how it was made with this link is even more special!!