Mary Blair’s career spanned much wider than her work at Disney, but for many, it is Disney that introduced them to the artist that “painted colors you weren’t supposed to paint together.”*
Blair was hired by the Disney Company in 1940 and influenced many projects. She provided concept art for studio’s early animated films, including The Three Caballeros, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. She designed the iconic “it’s a small world” attraction; and at Walt Disney World, she created the ceramic tiles that make up the massive mural inside the Contemporary Resort.
Currently, Blair’s art for the 1951 Alice in Wonderland film is featured on numerous home good pieces for sale at the parks and online. Pillows, teacups, throw blankets, and more have all been created to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the film’s release.
But what other gift ideas are out there for the devoted Mary Blair fan? Here are some ideas!
Mary Blair’s most recognizable creation, it’s a small world, has recently been turned into two adorable toys.
The first one is the Small World Stacking Block Set ($49.99 at shopDisney). It includes 32 blocks, four of which are characters seen inside the attraction. This set isn’t just for kids. It works great as shelf display.
A second toy is a 3D board game in which players use boat pieces to follow a waterway through a maze of rooms. It’s available a few places including Amazon for $18.99 and on shopDisney for $29.99.
While an original Mary Blair would be the holy grail of gifts, most of us do not have the means to obtain such a luxury. However, there are quite a few affordable prints available online.
The Mary Blair Print Collection at the Nucleus Art Gallery and Store offers modestly priced framed and unframed prints. My personal favorites were Santa and His Three Elves and Wedding Day. (Click here for a link to the online gallery)
California Watercolor sells prints of Blair’s early watercolors. They are quite different from the Blair style Disney fans are used to. Instead of fairy tales, these works depict everyday life. (Click here for a link to the online gallery)
There are several books about Mary Blair, but my two favorites are The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation by John Canemaker and the picture book, Mary Blair’s Unique Flair written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Brittney Lee.
Canemaker’s book is packed with photos, making it both a good read and visual treat. Novesky and Lee’s book is illustrated using cut paper (a medium Blair worked in herself). The characters in the book look so dapper, especially Walt Disney.
If creating gifts is a hobby of yours. I came across materials to help you make a Blair-inspired one.
While researching Blair’s cut paper art, I came across a Mary Blair art lesson plan on the Faber-Castell website. It has all the instructions you need to create your own cut paper masterpiece. (Click here for a link to the lesson plan.)
On another website called Spoonflower, I found several Mary Blair-inspired fabrics, perfect for making a set of pillows or a one-of-a-kind piece for a Disney-bounder.
And what would the holidays be without socks? The last gift idea on my Mary Blair wish list is something everyone can use. Walmart carries a variety of cute options that fit kids and adults (priced $7.99 and up).
Mary Blair gains new admirers with each generation. In the 1950s, who would have guessed that Disney fans in 2021 would be sipping out of tea sets designed with Blair’s concept art or playing a board game based on a boat ride she created for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair?
Well, maybe one guy.
*from Mary Blair’s Unique Flair written by Amy Novesky
I'm a writer living in East Lansing, Michigan. I have loved Disney ever since my first visit in 1977, and I always keep my Annual Pass in my wallet just in case the opportunity to visit WDW comes up (you never know). I publish a weekly e-newsletter called MAIN STREET POP IN and can be found anytime at www.mainstreetpopin.com.