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Tim Wolak, Oz Sculptor and Artist

Story By: Dee (DEEDUN) Dunheim

Tim Wolak

Tim Wolak is deeply involved in a very advanced craft. He creates life size duplicates of the original Wizard of Oz characters.

The artist's life is a continual scavenger hunt. He meanders through flea markets, garage sales, swap meets, fabric shops and alley ways for the perfect materials, tools and props to recreate the most recognizable characters ever created. With an intriguing mix and match of materials and techniques, he produces his life-size replicas.

An admitted 'nut for authenticity,' the artist's works are meticulously rendered. Paper mache is made for shaping bodies and he uses foam padding, tin foil wrapped around newspapers, acrylic paints, felt, vinyl-like spackling and air brushing techniques. 'I come as close as possible,' he says, 'to duplicating the work of costume designers of the original MGM movie. The artist's self proclaimed 'insane' Oz creativity is seen down to the minutest cosmetic detail - complete with individually placed eyelashes. Starting with styrofoam mannikin heads, imbedded ping pong balls become eyes and stick-on fingernails are transformed into teeth.
When setting up for Chesterton, Indiana's Wizard of Oz Festival each September, Wolak's perfection is evident as Dorothy's torso is removed from a carefully packed box. Her head is gently set upon her shoulders; braids are delicately placed around her face. The final touch is having Toto ever so gently propped into the wicker basket on Dorothy's right arm. The Coroner and other figures are treated just as respectfully.

His scarecrow, originally played by Ray Bolger in the 1939 MGM movie, wears Tim's Mom's terry cloth robe died greenish blue. Patches were sewn on his Dad's old baggy polyester pants. The timid character's shoes are Tim's old zip-up Beatle boots. A hillbilly hat was extended in height to duplicate the actual hat worn by Bolger. The likeness is breathtaking: from the goofy burlap facial expression, to his hay-stuffed shirt. A slight touch of gloss on his lower lip completes the realism. His eyes cause grown men to lean down and stare eyeball-to-eyeball into his hypnotic gaze.

His Tin Man, who came to life with the talents of Jack Haley, is far from an expressionless soul. You almost hear a heart beat when you get close to the cardboard-based, aluminum-sprayed sculpture complete with funnel hat and clutching his lumber ax. His intent stare, shining green eyes and bright red lips are mesmerizing.

One highlight of the Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival, is Wolak's 'Picture Yourself in Oz,' where visitors are immortalized as they pose with his work atop the hill of the Yellow Brick Road Museum and Gift shop on Route 49. Dorothy, Toto, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Winky Guard, Flying Monkey, Trumpeter, Wicked Witch of the West, Lollipop Kid and Coroner mix it up with Oz fans - who for the split motionless second it takes to pose for a polaroid - are frozen in time.

Generations of families show up for the opportunity to be immortalized in one of Wolak's shots. 'They're all jammed in there pretty tight' laughs the sculptor.'But they love it.'

DEEDUN Public Relations
Phone 219 929 1038
Fax 219 929 4483

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