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2402 W Rd
Bennington, VT, 05201
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A behind-the-scenes look at the R. John Wright Dolls Design Studio in Bennington, Vermont. Written by R. John Wright, hear in his own words how the creative design process unfolds and how the world-renowned RJW dolls and animal characters are readied for production. 

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A behind-the-scenes look at the R. John Wright Dolls Design Studio in Bennington, Vermont. Written by R. John Wright, hear in his own words how the creative design process unfolds and how the world-renowned RJW dolls and animal characters are readied for production. 

Top 5 Challenges Creating The Wicked Witch of the West by R. John Wright

John Wright

Blog by R. John Wright

Blog by R. John Wright

1. The first challenge was sculpting the face so that it not only looked like Margaret Hamilton but could also be molded out of felt. The molding was very challenging due to the undercuts and contours of the face which clearly show in the profile. We actually had to make 3 metal molds before we got one that gave us the desired result. Along with the Queen of Hearts, this is one of the most difficult molding projects we have ever attempted.

2. Another big challenge was the sculpting and molding of the hands. One hand holds the broom which required an inner bar inside the mold that each of the fingers were wrapped around. We had never attempted this type of hand before and it called for a completely new approach. The other hand was no less challenging with its curled fingers and pointing index finger.

3. The nails on the hands were also something we'd never tried before. Each tiny nail had to be individually cut, curved, and applied to each fingertip—ten nails per doll!  Then, each hand was given a 'manicure' whereby the nails were carefully painted with a deathly green lacquer. Thank goodness she didn't have toenails too!

4. The Witch's broom in itself was a challenge because we wanted it to be authentic in every way. First, we needed to find a company who could turn the handles for us to our specifications. This was difficult since the handle is long and thin and had a tendency to shake and break on the lathe. We finally found a workshop in the US which had also turned a similarly long and thin replica of Harry Potter's wand!  The assembly with leather lattice work, sewn straw and custom-made pewter rings also required several innovative procedures.

5. The original Witch's costume no longer exists—except for the hat. However, a top Wizard of Oz fan had a full-size replica of the Witch's gown which he generously loaned to us to study. Getting the drape right on the 1/4 scale of the doll was a serious challenge. Finding the right fabric - a black cotton tricot - was the key to getting there. They say the devil is in the details and we just had to include the 'sinister' slant built into the original Witch's hat, the interesting pocket book which hangs from her waist, and her fabric-covered high heel pumps which are only visible in one frame of the film. Each of these 3 items required their own extensive R&D.

All-in-all it was an extremely challenging project but one that we are very proud of. Both Susan and myself count the Wicked Witch of the West among our top favorites of all the dolls we have made in the course of our 40-year history. Now we are gearing up to do "Glinda." Talk about opposites!