Tuesday, July 6, 2010

An Inspiration for Alice

On July 9th, the online organization Art Dolls Only is holding an exhibit with works inspired by Alice in Wonderland. I will be participating in this event and my "Alice creation" will be published on this blog Thursday, July 8th at 9:00 pm EST. For more information about the Art Dolls Only organization, the Alice in Wonderland event, and to see other artists' work, please click on the ADO logo in the right hand margin.

Please scroll down to see where the ideas for my Alice piece began.... 

In a dirty old garage, there once was a book...

  A few years ago, I found myself helping my sister and brother-in-law clean out a dirty old garage. It was piled high with the debris of a recently deceased woman's life. How sad it seemed. There were boxes and boxes of what were probably this woman's cherished mementos. Unfortunately, no children or relatives were to be found to gather-up and care for these bits and pieces of the dead woman's life.

  Of course, there was little time to dwell on the facts and sadness of the situation before us. There was a full garage, a dumpster, and time limitations. So, we got  to work with the clearing. As we worked at the chore, lovely little bits of what was once a happy life kept coming to the surface. Before I knew it, I had a pile of odds and ends that simply could not be destined for the dump. My pile consisted mostly of old photographs and children's books... two things I cannot bare to see thrown away! I noticed an old copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in amongst the books.  At the time, I supposed this was a typical early 20th century edition with some of the typical illustrations. In a few words, nothing special.

   About a year later, I was researching in my collection of children's books when I again came across the old copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. My initial impression of this book was certainly a mistake. Upon further inspection, this is quite a magical little book. On the first page is written Charlotte Reardon, Xmas 1920. Charlotte was the mother of the woman whose personal effects were in the garage. Why Charlotte, as a grown woman, had a copy of this child's book is a mystery, but I guess it's not a situation that would be completely out of the question. The real excitement came at the title page of the book. Here, I found that this book was illustrated with "scenes from the photoplay produced and copyrighted by the Nonpareil Feature Film Corp." What a pleasant surprise! Not only is this book illustrated with photos of an old movie production, it is PROFUSELY illustrated! The photos show a production that was so witty, yet naive, that one can't help but to smile. When I say naive, I mean a lot of papier mache, painted wood and cardboard, and make-do costumes. There is definitely a  "grade school pageant" quality, but it is utterly charming.

Inscription   Charlotte Reardon, Xmas 1920

Title Page  Nonpareil Feature Film Corp.

Viola Savoy in starring role of Alice

  I have hesitated for some time when thinking of doing an Alice in Wonderland creation. There have been so many attempts and incredible resolutions with this theme, I just could not motivate myself. But, upon the discovery of this little old book, I have found inspiration! Please come back on July 8th to see what my efforts have brought forth. I am thrilled with the results and I hope you will be, too!

Best Wishes.....


  1. How exciting Allen I can't wait to see! Will they be for sale? I know they will be amazing. Everything you make is incredible!

  2. I understand about not getting on the Alice bandwagon, I'm looking forward to seeing the pieces that you come up with.

    Allen, I have seen the movie that you are talking about! I believe that it is on Youtube. It is a little damaged and choppy but very worthwhile looking at. If you like community theatre production quality movie effects take a look at the original "Little Shop of Horrors", the remake is terrible. It looks like it was filmed on a stage but don't let that put you off, it is a 5 star movie! The story is more like a European fairy tale than a horror movie.

  3. Love these old books. And what a find for you!