Jerry’s post from yesterday about John Canemaker’s new book had me thinking about the Disney Educational film Ceramic Mural (1965). It’s a fascinating little document; it’s perhaps the only film Disney ever made documenting one specific artist’s work. It’s a bit rare; still, with all the interest in Mary Blair’s work, I’m surprised it hadn’t shown up sooner.
Funny enough, even though the film was released by Disney, it was actually made by Norman Wright productions *for* Disney. Wright was a former Disney animator and storyboard artist, working through the late 30s into the 40s. He formed his own production company sometime in the 1950s.
My guess is that the film was shot in 16mm. This copy is an IB Technicolor print, struck in 1966.
It’s especially interesting to see the entire process of creating a mural documented, including creating porcelain and glazes. Seeing Blair working with student artists from Cal-Arts is a highlight as well.
The film was part of the Walt Disney Educational Media Catalog for only a handful of years; it seems to disappear from the educational offerings around 1974; perhaps this is why it’s harder to find a 16mm print (and why it hasn’t shown up on youtube any sooner). Even though the film is about Mary’s creative process in creating the mural, her past experience sadly isn’t touched upon at all. Perhaps the attempt at making a more educational short and the seriousness
of the subject (creating a mural for the outside of a surgery room) merits a less commercialized approach.
I find the film to be really enjoyable. It’s a bit odd to have such a cheesy ending though, with children acting as if they’re singing the clearly pre-recorded It’s a Small World song.
Since we’re on the subject of Mary’s murals:
Here is a little clip showing a model and creating tiles for what would be part
..and, sadly, removing those same Mary Blair tiles from Tomorrowland in 1986: