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2402 W Rd
Bennington, VT, 05201
United States

802-447-7072

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. 

Ellen’s Take: Dollmaking

News & Updates

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. 

Ellen’s Take: Dollmaking

John Wright

Ellen Tsagaris is one of our favorite doll bloggers. She has collected dolls since she was three years old. She has made dolls, priced dolls, repaired, dressed, and studied dolls and her blogging work can be found on the doll collecting section of about.com and on her personal doll blogs, Doll Museum, and Dr. E's Doll Museum blog. Ellen is a fan and collector of R. John Wright dolls and we were fortunate to have her guest blog for us. We will be featuring a monthly series of subject of her choice in, "Ellen's Take". Here is her take on dollmaking and we hope you enjoy it! 

n 1982, when this photo of Susan and the Little Children dolls was taken, the Wrights were still painting the dolls' faces in their home studio.

n 1982, when this photo of Susan and the Little Children dolls was taken, the Wrights were still painting the dolls' faces in their home studio.

I think all dolls are self portraits, self portraits of their designers, their costumers, their dressmakers.  Even mass produced dolls started as someone’s idea or art project, and even dolls made for retail began as handmade and hand dressed items. As with all art, a piece of the artist’s soul went into their making.

There really are as many kinds of dolls in the world as there are people. They express our hopes and fears, our opinions, our love for our children, our love of design and detail, and much more.  Dolls are complex because we are; they are unique because we are.  

A doll’s uniqueness is often expressed through the materials that create it, and each grouping of materials is a vocabulary of a language that the doll “speaks.”  For examples, wooden dolls are made of wood, which basically remains a living substance.  Ceramic dolls ultimately are the children of Mother Earth.  After all, they come from the earth’s clay. Delicate porcelain dolls remind of the fragile nature of life itself.  Wax dolls, with their lifelike properties, often serve as memorials of those gone but loved. Cloth dolls in their infinite variety might be a canvas for a doll artist’s creativity, or a warm, comforting companion. 

A favorite rag doll is a companion to be hugged on dark scary nights.  She is akin to a favorite, but worn flannel shirt, or much-love baby blanket that always seems to stay in the family.   Frayed and worn rag dolls are respected; they have served well in the line of doll duty to the children who owned them and needed them. Needle sculpted dolls, and felt dolls satisfy our need for portraiture and realism.  They bring to life our favorite characters like Edith the Lonely Doll, The Cowardly Lion, the Brownies, The Little Prince, and more.

I love R. John Wright Dolls because they give us Pooh and Christopher Robin to hold in 3D, not just the illusion of them.  RJW dolls are faithful to their muses, the artists and artwork that inspire them. 

To make an analogy, how often do we say we prefer the book to the movie?  When a work of art, like a book, is reproduced in another medium like film, we often prefer the original.  Yet, when a two dimensional work of art, like a Hummel sketch, or a Tenniel illustration is recreated as a three dimensional object like a doll, the 3D work of art goes beyond the original. We can appreciate Alice as a doll in more ways than we can a sketch from Alice in Wonderland, wonderful though it might be. We see Alice from all angles; we can understand her story better when we hold her.  Such is the magic of a doll, especially a doll inspired by art.