Thursday, December 27, 2012

Forest of No Return

Those who stumble in,
Those who fumble in,
Never can get out...

This is one of my favorite images ever.  It's by the insanely talented illustrator, Lowell Hess, for the 1961 Big Golden Book adaptation of Walt Disney's Babes In Toyland.  The pictures in the book are all very good, but this one is a real standout.  The nearly-black trees with their dark, glaring eyes and the upward view against the stark blue background is wonderfully spooky. Everything is skillfully rendered, and almost three-dimensional.  These guys would be super fun to sculpt.

The actual Babes in Toyland movie is, regrettably, not a favorite of mine, but luckily it has great art direction, with colorful storybook set pieces and some really fun costumes. But it's Hess's inky interpretations that excite me the most. 


 Every Christmas, time permitting,  Jody and I enjoy making one-of-a-kind toys and ornaments for our friends, and Jody made these stylized wooden ornaments of the grumpy Toyland trees.  Each is a few inches tall, handpainted, with miniature blown-glass decorations from Germany.  Terrific, huh?



This year, the one with the bird's nest on his head became part of a Christmas Card featured on Disney's "23 Days of Christmas" advent calendar.

Speaking of calendars, I'm really looking forward to the coming year. Hope 2013 will be good to you too!

6 comments:

2alligatoreyes said...

TERRIFIC !! YES!! as always a Masterpiece. Merry Christmas and Happy 2013. Love from , Rich & Paulette

...But It Wasn't Always That Way! said...

It's hard to go wrong with designs like these - Reminiscent, it seems, of Wizard of Oz? It would be great to see them stomping around Disneyland again. Halloween parade???

Stephanie Hess said...

Hi! Lowell Hess is my uncle - I'm delighted to see how many people appreciate his work. Thank you for posting!

Ryan P. Wilson said...

You guys continue to impress. The appreciation and knowledge of the history and the ability to craft such wonderful pieces, I cannot thank you enough for continuing to share!

Rich T. said...

I love this!!! Those trees are among my very favorite Disney characters (though I agree the movie's kinda "meh"). Amazing images here, and Jody's wooden ornaments are charming, perfect and wonderful!!!

Heather Dixon said...

So fantastic! I love the Forest of No Return trees and your rendition of them. Babes in Toyland is one of my favorite movies ever...seriously. Love Barnaby's cape dance!