Bonnie Pfeiffer is celebrating her 28th year as an artisan at R. John Wright Dolls and we are thrilled that she is our first RJW Artisan Spotlight! Our social media director Rachel sat down with Bonnie for an interview.
Introduction from R. John Wright: "Bonnie was among our earliest face painters and she worked on the 7 Dwarfs which were the 1st RJW dolls not painted by Susan and myself. Since then, she has been responsible for the painting on literally thousands of dolls. Bonnie is also one of our most skilled seamstresses. She is one of the few that can sew the smallest individual fingers. She is amazingly accurate and conscientious and it is rare that she is unable to do anything you give her!"
Rachel: How did you get te job?
Bonnie: "I was raising 4 kids at home and I wanted to go out and do something different along with that. I happened to see that a department store was hiring and I went inside to apply. They told me that the supervisor was out to lunch and told me to come back in a half hour. R. John Wright dolls was right next door and was hiring as well. I went inside (not even knowing what it was) and did seamstress test and was hired right away. (I know that it was definitely meant to be!)
Rachel: Do you create things away from your job as an artist?
Bonnie: "I have been sewing since the age of 8. I do painting on glass and I love knitting and different crafts like that. Pretty much everything I have done at home has been learned on my own. I used to do a lot of cake decorating for weddings. Since I started working at RJW, I found different ways of doing things outside of work."
Rachel: How is working at RJW different from 'traditional' ways of doing things?
Bonnie: "It was hard to get used to industrial machines and that took me awhile to get used to. We don't pin anything together here which was different for me because I was used to pinning everything together with pins from patterns before. Here, we work without the pins and just put it together very slowly, stitch by stitch. I am amazed at how Susan designs the clothing and you look at it"what is this" and it just all comes together. I have learned how to do that same concept at home. I am more attentive when looking at things than I used to be. Because of my attention to painting a doll's face, I really pay attention to people and their expressions now - especially their eyebrows. Eyebrows are so important."
Rachel: What are some of your favorite collections? A couple of your ALL TIME favorite pieces?
Bonnie: "The 7 Dwarfs a far as painting. That is when RJW stopped painting each doll himself. We took a test in how skilled you were in doing mirrored images and the 7 dwarfs were the first ones that I started painting. Each collection had so many dolls that John and Susan couldn't do them all by themselves so they needed help. Painting that first collection was a thrill. As far as animals, Christmas Kittens are my favorite. I love them. Snowball is my favorite. They gave me a Snowball for my 25th anniversary."
Rachel: It's been 28 years. What are some of your favorite memories?
Bonnie: "It's so hard to choose as it's been an incredible journey. We are like a family. We have ups and downs like any family but we work it all out. Those memories and roots really mean something."
"I remember when we all got to go to Disneyworld as a group on an all expense paid trip as a thank you for all of our hard work in 1989. The whole thing was just so fun for us all to be together as a group and sharing that time. It feels like we are one big family. It was like a family going on vacation."
"Also the group we have now is awesome. Everyone works so well together. We do baby showers and dinners for birthdays here at the workshop. I couldn't imagine my life any different and I am glad the manager was out to lunch on that fateful day 28 years ago when I walked through the doors of R. John Wright Dolls for the first time."