This interview by Patricia Hays, was originally published here: http://www.lenci-dolls.net/09162007.html
Patricia Hayes: What did you enjoy most about this project?
R. John Wright: So many people had requested that we do "The Lonely Doll" over the years that we enjoyed finally immersing ourselves in the project. We saw it as a homage to Dare Wright's creativity as well as that of the Lenci company.
PH: What were the some of the challenges in creating your Edith?
RJW: To make the Lonely Doll was an interesting project and kind've eerie to be going down the same path Lenci traveled. We did extensive work to get the head sculpt right. The original Edith was an earlier 109 which is slightly different, but we liked the more refined sculpt of the later ones so that is what this is based on. She's not an exact copy but rather an interpretation. We couldn't resist giving her molded ears which we thought would complement her earrings nicely.
The dress fabric was quite a challenge. First the colors needed to be established so the custom-made felt could be ordered. (Note: the felt is 100% wool and made mothproof and colorfast.) The shades are cut into long strips, sewn together in alternating colors and then flattened and cut again going the opposite direction into strips which are then sewn together in alternating rows to make the checkers. It's all done with strips, not little individual pieces, but it requires absolute accuracy in sewing.
After all the strips are sewn the fabric is very bulky and distorted like a thick blanket. It must be stretched, flattened and blocked in a heat press prior to cutting into pattern parts. We also decided to completely line the dress with organdy so it would go on easier and look finished inside. The closure is a zipper - just as on the original.
PH: How are the body and limbs constructed? What materials?
RJW:The entire doll is made of felt. The body/limbs are lined in muslin to prevent stretching during the stuffing process. We decided to design hands which resembled the original Edith mitten-style hands but this time with individually sewn fingers.
PH: Did you examine the original Edith ?
RJW: No, we haven't seen the original Edith in person. We really love the Edith character, but if you look carefully at the doll in the book, you gain a new appreciation for Dare Wright's photographic skills. The face of the doll itself is quite undermolded with very little definition and the wig is a very strange thing that she obviously cobbled together. The gingham dress is not particularly interesting. Therefore, we felt that our doll needed a bit more refinement in all the details so that it wouldn't disappoint when actually seen in person.
PH: Was Brook Ashley involved in the design process?
RJW: Brook, no, she was not involved at all in the design process. Although she very kindly supplied us with color photos of Edith as well as those of the two bears for use in the locket. The Lonely Doll book, of course, was studied intently.
PH: Anything else you would like to share about the development process?
RJW: We had a bit of a crisis after the prototype was completed when someone pointed out to us that the original Edith's eyes are blue rather than brown! We had no idea since most 109s we've seen have brown eyes. Of course you can't really tell in the B&W photos, but they looked quite dark to us . . . Anyway, her eyes have been changed accordingly and we actually like them much better than brown.
You can purchase an Edith the Lonely Doll at a special price by clicking the photo below.