Thursday, January 31, 2008


The eye-popping shirts and Hawaiian dresses that adorned Disneyland's Tiki Room hosts and hostesses in the 1960s are among the most colorful - and TIMELESS - apparel ever designed for the theme park. Tuning in to our own obsession for all things Tiki and Vintage, we surmised that offering a limited edition of near-exact replicas would be a hit with the collectors....and it turned out we were right. 500 of each style, in purple and green color variations, were produced and rapidly sold out...and to this day I still spot them regularly at Tiki events and parties on both coasts.

So, who is that attractive couple so smartly showing off their duds in the above photo? Why it's my dear friend Humuhumu (Michelle Whiting) and yours truly modeling for the Disney Catalog! We are NOT professional models, by a long shot, and the story of how we got to appear in the photo shoot is told best by Humuhumu on her own blog...

Disneyland Tiki Room Shirt and Dress Replicas

Humu brought her personal "golden" high-heeled slippers to the shoot, and we heard many comments about them from shoppers. Perhaps if Disney had been selling those shoes, they could have made a fortune!
MICKEY and MINNIE MOUSE in 1961Mickey & Minnie Mouse 1961

Lumpy or loveable?

Of course you know I ADORE this version of the characters for their downright funkiness. And naturally, you do too. Right?

Unfortunately, though the proportions were closer to their animated counterparts, shaking hands or giving autographs were functionally out of the question.

To remedy this problem, the designs were updated again only one year later... but not before these two managed a brief and memorable appearance in the 1962 film "40 Pounds of Trouble" starring Tony Curtis and Suzanne Pleshette.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

HUKILAU Paper Sculpture 

HUKILAU POSTER 2007 - Kevin KidneyThis is another paper sculpture illustration I did this past year for the Hukilau event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. People come from all over the world to attend the biggest and best tropical luau on the mainland.

"Huki" the fishing god in the upper center - the event's official mascot which is also my design - has caught an entire party in his nets.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tiki Room Tangaroa Tree 1963“Oh Mystic Powers, hear my call: from my limbs let new life fall!”

Tangaroa, the Father of all Tiki Gods and Goddesses, stands in the form of a mighty tree at the entrance to Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room. As he speaks his magical verse, new life comes forth “in wondrous way” as a happy crop of tiny wooden tikis drop from the flowering blooms on his branches. Imagineer Rolly Crump, who conjured up this deity back in 1962, referred to the mythology of various Pacific islands in creating the humorous tiki characters who populate Adventureland’s tropical paradise. The resulting designs and personalities are grounded in Polynesian folklore, but are pure Disney creations.

Our original design called for each glass flower to be individually turned on or off by tugging on the baby tikis hanging from chains. It seemed like a plausible idea, until we discovered that the hidden switches would have required each branch to be about twice as fat. This would have looked horrible - and might even have angered the gods, themselves - so a drum-like knob was added to the back of the tree base instead. Jody and I sculpted the baby tikis out of wax one afternoon while in China.

We get asked about this item by collectors more often than just about any other item. Too bad only 500 were made. We have several friends who bought more than one!

Released in Summer 2005.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mary Blair Handbag

Mary Blair South American Bag
Originally uploaded by Miehana
Another gift I made for my dear friend, Lush Newton, who not only loves Mary Blair, but is an unbelievable artist and painter herself. The Disney illustration was published as a Hallmark greeting card in 1948.

The pieces are cut from wool felt and hand-stitched together. The donkey's bridle and spots are shiny pink satin ribbon, which contrasts spiffily to the matte texture of the felt.

I always say, if you can't find that perfect gift for someone in a store, you really need to make it yourself.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Merrily on their way to nowhere in particular....

Tally Ho! It's Mr. Toad's canary-yellow gypsy cart "rampaging about the countryside" with his horse Cyril. Another of my all-time favorite animated films is Walt Disney's "Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad." (If you haven't yet seen the film - and there's no excuse if you haven't - you probably know of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland.) About 15 years ago I made this simple wooden toy for a friend. At the time, I was disappointed that Disney seldom made cool merchandise based on this film, so I decided to make something myself.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

White Rabbit Big Figure
Originally uploaded by Miehana
This was the very first big figure I ever designed, for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" in 2001. He's about 16" tall and holds a real working "pocket watch." Back in the early days of the "big figs", we'd put the character's name on the base, until we discovered that most of the collectors didn't care for it. We omitted the name from later figurines, and if the figurine was balanced and could stand on its own, the removable base became optional (I prefer them without bases.)

In 2005, we re-issued this character with an aqua-colored base which I think was a great improvement in looking more like Mary Blair's color styling in the film.

Also Pete Emslie, who did the turnaround sketches for this piece has posted his beautiful drawings on his blog.