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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ron Embleton by Candlelight - Until We Meet Again

I have previously devoted a number of blog entries to the art of Ron Embleton and the post More Ron Embleton Magic (18 June 2011) has consistently proved to be one of my most popular.

Last month I was thrilled to be able to buy the painting shown above to add to my small collection of original Ron Embleton art.  It is not a large painting, but it is one I have loved ever since I first saw it as a child.

Although I admire all of his work I think Embleton's works lit by candlelight, firelight and moonlight are his most atmospheric and technically brilliant.

This is how the painting appears in the story 'The Secret of the Trolls', originally printed in 1970 in Once Upon a Time magazine.

In one of my earliest posts Here be Dragons (20 January 2011) I mentioned that prints/posters of Ron Embleton's work are available for sale that are often vaguely titled.  This painting is another example.  It is always called 'Girl Writing a Letter'.   The 'girl' in the illustration is called Lady Ulfstan - she is busy inviting all the noble knights in the land to her castle in the hope that one will offer to marry her troublesome daughter!

These works of art are usually referred to as 'boards'.   The paintings are taped onto a square of board (ready to be sent for printing) with instructions and dimensions written underneath.  For me that is part of their appeal - they are working illustrations - part of the magical process of bringing to life these wonderful stories for children.  I have chosen to keep them exactly as they are and not frame them (although I have covered them in cellophane to protect them.)     

Last December I bought another painting from the same story (shown above).   Again I think the use of light in this painting is brilliant, divided as it is into a hot and cold area.  Like the examples I included in Ron Embleton's Comic Cooks (September 2011) the inclusion of the dog is a lovely touch.

Once again here is the illustration in the context of the story:


I bought these two paintings from Frans Leeflang - items he is currently selling on eBay can be found on the link provided.  Frans is one of the nicest and most professional sellers on eBay and his art collection is truly incredible.  You can see some of the works he has sold on his blog Frans' Pop Art (not only children's art).

To finish this post I'm including three other examples (by no means a definitive list) of Embleton's work that is lit by candlelight.  The first is from 'The Magic Apples (1971).  I really wanted to be a delicate sleeping princess with long golden hair when I first saw this illustration.   


The next two are both from Snow White (1969) and show the wonderful depiction of the wicked stepmother in that story.

This will be my last blog entry for a while.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the 'almost year' that I have been putting these posts together.  A completely unexpected pleasure and treat has been the other bloggers (and blogs) that I have got to know.  It has been a real privilege - thanks so much for popping into my blog and for the comments that have been left.  I've really enjoyed visiting in return.

Although I've only completed one post a week I've found the process surprisingly time consuming and unfortunately spare time is not something I have in abundance.  My family have also been teasing me (in a nice way) that my blog is not one with a wide enough appeal and comparatively speaking does not perform that well.  So I'm going to try to spend more time with them and less plugged into a machine!  I won't stop blogging altogether and will perhaps do a post a month instead of one every week.  Hopefully I'll also still be visiting some of the other blogs I've really come to enjoy.

So for now all that is left for me to do is to blow out the candle.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Calendars

Advent Calendars were a special part of Christmas during my childhood as we eagerly counted down the days to Christmas morning.  Our calendars were beautifully painted and always retained the same simple concept.  The cardboard calendar was backed with fine, almost tissue like paper, and each little window opened onto a small picture.

I still have two of my original calendars from the mid 60's.  I've included them both here.  There were always 24 windows with the final one a double size that always contained a nativity scene.  I think there were two variations of the nativity scene but the calendars I have both contain the same one shown below.

I think the pictures concealed behind each little window remained the same over the years.  All that varied was the order in which they appeared.  There was always great anticipation to see which would be revealed next.  Those containing angels were my favourites.    

It was my mom who had the foresight to put these calendars back in their envelopes and pack them away for me to discover again in recent years.   The envelopes are just as special a memory as the calendars themselves with the same lovely appealing artwork.

A couple of years ago I bought the calendar shown below.  I couldn't resist it when I saw it as it reminded me so much of the ones I knew as a child.  It has a beautiful and very intricate scene that looks to be a romantic representation of times past from the early 20th century.  Although I haven't shown any here, the pictures behind each window are just as pretty and appear to be from the same era.

I was interested to notice that both this calendar and my original two are from Germany.  This later one was made by Richard Sellmar Verlag.  My earlier calendars have no other acknowledgement other than that they were printed in West Germany.

Because it was something so special to me I have carried on the tradition of Advent Calendars with my own son.  When he was four I bought him this one shaped like a Christmas wreath.  It is quite large so I've just shown a corner here.   

This calendar conceals an assortment of Christmas decorations and 3 tiny little books.  One contains the poem of 'The Night Before Christmas'.  Although we've had it now for almost 10 years we still take out this particular calendar every year and hang the decorations daily on our tree. (It was made by Canada with thanks to Heritage Canada.)  

For my son's generation an Advent Calendar is not an Advent Calendar unless it it filled with chocolate!  Even though he will be 14 next year he was still looking forward to this year's offering.  I bought him one with a Where's Wally theme and have to confess that it took me the longest out of the three of us to find Wally in the picture!  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saalfield Mini Mods #1321 / 1969

Of all the 'contemporary' paper dolls I played with as a child this set of Mini Mods was undoubtedly my favourite.  The clean lines and bright colours make it an absolute treat.

The book consists of five dolls and a wonderfully trendy wardrobe of clothes.  I'm not sure if I noticed when I was young that the names given to dolls in these sets always tended to be alphabetical.  Here we have Alice, Betsy, Candy, Diana and Emmy.

The two dolls chosen for the cover of the book were also my favourites.  Betsy always had a slight edge over the others with her curly hair and striking swimsuit.  Alice came second in her snazzy floral number.

The clothes were everything a fashion conscious young girl of the swinging 60's could ask for.  This set gives me a pang of pure nostalgia every time I look at it.

All the outfits follow.  Unfortunately I don't have a back cover that is still intact, but I have included all the punched dolls to complete the set. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Shop Windows

Brown Thomas - Sleeping Beauty

The shops seem to start their Christmas displays earlier and earlier each year.  The lights in Grafton Street were switched on last Friday evening and the Brown Thomas windows unveiled.  Brown Thomas (an Irish department store) has a tradition of special window displays each Christmas. Past themes that I can remember are the Circus and Narnia.  This year the theme is scenes from the Ballet.  As this is a subject I enjoy I'm posting a few photographs I took of some of the displays earlier today.  

Brown Thomas - Cinderella

Brown Thomas - Swan Lake

I also really love this elephant in a window on the side of the store (Wicklow Street) advertising a famous designer brand.   It brightens up my walk to work!

The next photo is a little blurry - I tried to take a picture of the puppets inside Bewley's Cafe higher up on Grafton Street.   I still decided to include it to give some idea of what the (musical) display looks like. 

Bewley's Cafe

And of course the Disney Store.  Minnie is rotating so this one was a bit trickier than it looks.

Disney Store

Nature is capable of putting on a lovely display as well.  This little holly in the garden at Dublin Castle looks just like a Christmas tree with its decoration of berries.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

Yesterday Barbara from March House Books nominated me for the One Lovely Blog award.  I was thrilled as she must have had many other blogs to choose from.  Barbara's blog is brilliant - wonderful vintage children's books and all sorts of other interesting snippets of information.  Thanks so much Barbara for thinking of me when you put your list together. 

I'm copying the the requirements of receiving the award from her blog:
1. To thank the giver and link back to her site.
2. Provide 5 random facts that folks may not know about you.
3. Pass this award on to 5 other lovely blog sites and let them know you're awarding them.
4. Copy the award logo and paste it onto your own site.

So here goes with the 5 random facts:

1.  I'm left handed.

2.  I'm a Scatterling (of Africa).  The term originally comes from a Johnny Clegg/Jaluka song from the 1980's (it featured in the opening credits of 'Rain Man').  My husband and I are both South Africans with a shared Scottish heritage.  I'm now also an Irish citizen by naturalisation.

3.  I hold an Honours Degree in History.  I've always been drawn to Antiquity and the early Medieval period.  When I was a little girl I longed to live in a land of real castles and ancient forests.

4.  I started my working life as a High School History teacher.  In the early 80's I bought a Sinclair ZX Spectrum.  I was curious to know how the games worked so I broke into the code to figure it out.  It made me decide to change my career path.  At the age of 27 I started programming and I've been a software developer working in IT ever since.

5.  I love reading and my secret guilty pleasure is cleverly plotted whodunits.  For me Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael series was a match made in heaven.

My nominations are based on a combination of blogs I enjoy visiting and personalities that I feel I've really gotten to know.  My choices are influenced by that as much as content:

Always Crave Cute
Lucy Violet Vintage
My Friends Call me Nelly
Marges8's Blog
15 Coast Road

I would also have liked to consider Garden of Daisies but I noticed that it is an 'award free blog' so I've respected that sentiment.   I hope the other five enjoy the award! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Original Alice

Between 1967 and 1969 my dad was employed by the Rank Xerox Corporation. I was too young to be told how he acquired this book - I can only assume employees were given an opportunity to purchase it.  What I can remember is how excited my dad was when he brought it home and how thrilled he was to give it to me.  I was eight years old at the time.  These are the memories I cherish today as neither of my parents are still alive.

The book is a facsimile* of 'Alice's Adventures under Ground', the forerunner of Alice in Wonderland - a manuscript handwritten and illustrated by the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and given as a Christmas gift to 'Alice' (Alice Liddell) 'in memory of a summer day'.

It consists of page after page of beautiful, neat, uniform and perfectly legible script (an art we have all but lost today).  Some of the illustrations are incorporated into the story .....

....... some are like plates that take up a whole page.

My favourite page is the one shown above with writing that curls across it like the tail of a mouse!

On the last page there is a photograph of the real Alice after this lovely reflection on the events of the story by the sister of the fictional Alice.

Alice Liddell kept the manuscript until 1928 when she had it put up for auction at Sotheby's.  It was bought by the renowned bookseller A.S.W. Rosenbach.  He sold it to a wealthy American collector whose widow put it up for auction again in 1946.

A group of Americans decided to buy the manuscript and present it to the British Museum (who had failed in a bid at the Sotheby auction).  It appears as though the gift ('restoring an important cultural treasure to its native home') was largely an expression of thanks towards the British people in recognition of their efforts in holding Hitler at bay during the period before America entered the war.

A list was compiled of donors who contributed $100 or more but it was agreed at the start not to make the names public.  Only three contributors are known - Luther H Evans, Librarian of Congress and later Director of International and Legal Collections at Columbia University who initiated the idea; Lessing Rosenwald, an eminent donor to the Library of Congress who spearheaded the fundraising effort and Dr Rosenbach who was authorised to make the bid. The manuscript was bought for $50 000 and in 1948 Luther Evans travelled to London to present it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, chairman of the Museum trustees.     

(Copyright by University Microfilms, Inc, 1964 A Subsidiary of Xerox Corporation) 

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

I have included the art of Jesus Blasco in a number of previous blog entries.  His illustrations of Alice in Wonderland are further examples of his brilliant and wonderfully detailed work.  They appeared in Once Upon a Time magazine between October and December 1970.

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

And finally a classic image of Lewis Carroll spinning his tales for Alice and her sisters on the banks of the river near Oxford.  Unfortunately I don't know the name of the artist who produced this lovely painting.


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