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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.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Little Ballerina Paper Dolls

More Little Ballerina paper dolls can also be found here.  (Posted 17 March 2013)  A different version of the book with the same dolls and different costumes.

These ballerinas date from the 1950s and are probably my earliest paper doll memory.  I think every little girl who played with paper dolls at this time must have owned a version of this book.  There is something about these solid little dancers with their lovely spangled dresses that is perfect for tiny fingers to dress.

I recently bought this particular copy on eBay.  It clearly is not missing any pages but I can remember about 6 other dresses that are not found here.  There was a dress festooned with grapes, another covered in stars and a deep purple tutu trimmed with roses around the neckline. Different variations of this book must have been available, some with additional costumes.

Click here to see another dress from this book (included at the end of the Kewpie Paper Dolls post, 26 April 2011)

Butler's Valentine Display

As we are approaching St Valentine's Day I thought I'd post this photograph of the Valentine's display in the Butler's Chocolate Cafe window in Wicklow Street (just off Grafton Street, Dublin).  It is such a cheerful sight on a chilly winter's morning.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Here Be Dragons

I've noticed this picture on a couple of sites that sell posters and prints as well as in the picture library of Look and Learn.  It is another example of Embleton's work and is always titled 'Boy and Girl on Lake'.

Ron Embleton - The Last Dragons

I often wonder if anyone who sees it is curious to know what the children are looking at as the dragonflies are not included in the stand-alone version of the scene.

This illustration is from a story called 'The Last Dragons' that appeared in the 1963 Jack and Jill annual.  It is about two very unhappy dragons who become the first dragonflies.  The story even recounts that the dragonflies decide to marry so the new species will continue.  

As a child I was intrigued by the depiction of the fairies in this story.  They are very grown up - more sirens than simple fairies with a refined glamour reminiscent of the golden age of movie stars.  In some ways they are an early precursor of the adult illustration work Embleton did towards the end of his career.

I've included a detail of one of the fairies from this story, followed by a panel from the story I posted in my first blog entry, The Golden Ball.  Although separated by a couple of years the depiction of the fairies in both is very similar.      

Ron Embleton - The Golden Ball

More dragons can be found in Delightful Dragons posted 12 August.

The Green in Winter

Last time I included photos of the swans in St Stephen's Green taken last summer.  Just before Christmas the park was covered in snow.  The next photo shows the same lake frozen over.  The swans were left with a tiny place to swim, sheltered by a bridge.  

Another photograph of the park in winter.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Splendour Book of Ballet

I was given this book as a Christmas present in 1966.  The artist signed himself merely as Maraja.  As a seven year old aspiring ballerina I found these illustrations entrancing.  As an adult I still marvel at the artist's ability to depict the human form with such a sense of grace and beauty.

Libico Maraja (1912-1983) was an Italian artist.  He is rightfully recognised as one if Italy's top post-War illustrators.  Although not contained here his illustrations for 'Alice in Wonderland' are probably Maraja's most well-known.

 Swan Lake




St Stephens Green - Dublin

After Swan Lake this is probably a good time to include these photos of my own.  I took them during the summer last year - very early in the morning on my way to work when the park (at the top of Grafton Street near to my office) is tranquil and almost empty.  I discovered this family of swans and returned on a couple of occasions to photograph them.     

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jesus Blasco

(See also Wonderful Weddings and Perfect Princesses for additional examples of Jesus Blasco's work.)

Jesus Blasco (1919 - 1995) was a Spanish artist, considered by many to be the master of comic book art. As with Ron Embleton he did not only produce children's art but it is Blasco's fairytale illustrations that I think have the greatest appeal.  He illustrated many well know children's classics such as Gulliver's Travels and Alice in Wonderland.  He is also well known for his incredibly detailed paintings of fairies, elves and mermaids and even produced a number of illustrations of 'modern' families in contemporary settings.

But it is Blasco's wonderful depiction of The Water Babies that I have chosen to include here.  The attention to detail is extraordinary, the finished results are both enchanting and ethereal.

More pictures from this lovely story can also be seen at the post called Marvellous Mermaids (7 Oct 2011)

Jesus Blasco - The Water Babies
Illustrations from various issues of 'Once Upon a Time' magazine  

Hidden Dublin - Marsh's Library  

The earliest public library in Ireland built in 1701. Situated in St Patrick's Close, next to St Patrick's Cathedral. It is unique in that it is one of very few buildings in Dublin still being used for its original purpose. Some books still occupy the same shelf positions they were allocated in 1709. A number of these original books have comments in their margins written by Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) during his tenure as dean of St Patrick's Cathedral.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mary Poppins Paper Doll

This is a much loved and (as can be seen from its current condition) well played with paper doll  At some stage poor Mary Poppins lost her head - it was taped back on but the tape became discoloured and disintegrated over time.  The children are in fairly good condition as are the clothes, but besides the two hats shown here any others that came with the set have been lost down the years.

I can't remember the cover of the book or anything else about it.  I have found vintage paper dolls of Mary Poppins from the same era advertised for sale, but never this particular one.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Fair Lady Paper Doll

I've managed to find most of the paper dolls online that I enjoyed playing with as a child.  Sometimes the search has taken a bit of effort but I've been thrilled to discover that many original copies are still for sale, and if the original is not available there are good quality reproductions on offer or online picture albums and blogs that have brought back some wonderful memories.

One paper doll I have not come across in any search is the one posted below.  It was given to me in the late 60's and was most likely modelled on Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle although her famous Ascot dress is not as it appeared in the film.

My own paper doll version of My Fair Lady can be found here

It is a very pretty paper doll though, painted with a delicate touch and contains some lovely detail.    

Click here to see the rest of this paper doll book (posted 14 May 2011)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ron Embleton and Disney

Ron Embleton and Disney probably seem a strange combination but they represent the two greatest artistic influences of my childhood

Ron Embleton

When as an adult I re-visited the artwork that had the ability to transport me to other worlds as a child, I was startled to realise that many of my favourites were produced by a single person.  Ron Embleton was a British artist who created an incredible body of work (not just as a childrens' illustrator) before his untimely death at the age of 58.

The power of the Internet has made examples of his art instantly accessible and the most definitive collection is probably to be found at the Look and Learn website.
(they hold the copyright to much of his art.)

As my intention in this blog is to try to include images not readily found anywhere else I am including five illustrations that can be counted amongst my favourites but which I have not yet come across online.

Ron Embleton - Golden Goose

I've always loved the play of light and shade in this painting from the Golden Goose although the comic characters in the foreground are slightly jarring.  The grandeur of the buildings, the sunlight literally gilding everything it touches makes this a fairytale illustration that is not easily forgotten.

Ron Embleton - Aladdin

Ron Embleton - Aladdin
These two illustrations from Aladdin contain a wonderful theatrical atmosphere.  It is amazing to think that paint alone can produce such a combination of light and magic.

Ron Embleton - Goldilocks
An illustration of Goldilocks arriving at the house of the Three Bears.  As a teenager studying art as one of my major subjects in high school, I spent many hours drawing and painting trees and landscapes.  My technique was unashamedly influenced by the style Embleton produced here.

Ron Embleton - Goose Girl

This painting from the story of The Goose Girl encapsulates everything that constitutes a fairy tale.  It has an epic quality, reminiscent of a body of literature that stretches from Beowulf to the Lord of the Rings.     

Illustrations from 'Fairy Tales Around the World, retold by Edward Holmes, illustrated by Ronald Embleton 

For more Ron Embleton art click on the links for  More Ron Embleton Magic , Handsome Heroes , Perfect Princesses , Wonderful Weddings , Homage to Embleton and Here be Dragons 


There can't be many children in the western world whose lives have not been shaped to some extent by Disney.  I was certainly no exception.  When deciding what images to include here I could have opted for many from the years of my childhood.  I finally chose to post these from Cinderella.  The quirky eccentricity of this interpretation has always appealed to me, combined with the fact that this version never came from an actual movie (at least not that I am aware of).  Although the story is traditionally supposed to be set in France, something about the characters and architecture comes across as being curiously American and this strange unreality is part of its appeal,

The final painting is marvellous, not the least because of the characterisation of the prince.  He looks as though he has wandered off the set of the Thunderbirds, more Nutcracker than Prince Charming.

Illustrations taken from 'Fantasyland' part of a collection of books called 'The Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney', illustrated by The Walt Disney Studio

Photos from Home

Despite the fact that it is such a well trodden part of the tourist trail, if there is anywhere in Ireland that gives the impression fairies are hiding at the bottom of the garden it has to be the grounds of Blarney Castle (County Cork.)  Linger a while and you can swear you hear their tinkling laughter:



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