Portrait of the Artist as a Young Greengrocer

Meet William H. Maizey

This photo may be the sole remaining artifact of one of my first original designs. I made it 37 years ago for the Loon and Heron Children’s Theater in Boston as part of a college internship. It (or he, since I have retroactively named him William H. Maizey) was an ear of corn designed to be worn by a small adult. I did not plan for him to be limited to a size small, I just hadn’t realized how much the quilting on the husk (pants) would shorten them.

The husk, which was the pants and one arm, was machine quilted in vertical lines to simulate the texture of a corn husk. They were two layers of cloth (a polyester knit of some kind if I remember correctly) with a layer of batting between. The ear of corn (top with one armhole cut out on the right) was a woven fabric (probably poly again – it was an inexpensive build) quilted in squares with  a peephole in his forehead covered in some gauzy material. That had a foam core underneath it to provide the shape and, incidentally, to make it insanely hot to wear. There was velcro around both the armhole and the part of the husk designed as an arm to hold them together.

As far as I know, this was used exactly once, at a food festival in Faneuil Hall Marketplace for which it was made. It was joined by a broccoli costume, also made for the event, and the two volunteers wandered around looking vegetal and carrying signs advertising the theater group. I hadn’t had time (ah, the joys of underestimating workload) to give it a proper face before the event, so its actual debut had a set of eyes and a mouth cut out of felt and sewn on to the front of the face. I returned a few months later to add the inset mouth and the nose and eyes you see here. I then propped him up on a chair overlooking Mass Ave and the Berklee School of Music, and took this portrait. He remained with the Loon and Heron and I have no idea what, if anything, happened to him after that, but I like to imagine him wandering the world bringing smiles wherever he goes.

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