Children of Japan

Children of Japan
Courtesy, R. John Wright

The Jumeau 201

The Jumeau 201
Courtesy Theriault's and Antique Doll Collector Magazine

Hinges and Hearts

Hinges and Hearts
An Exhibit of our Metal Dolls

Google+ Followers

Tuxedo and Bangles

Tuxedo and Bangles

A History of Metal Dolls

A History of Metal Dolls
Now on Alibris.com and In Print! The First Book of its Kind

Alice, Commemorative Edition

Alice, Commemorative Edition
Courtesy, R. John Wright

Translate

Emma, aka, La Contessa Bathory

Emma, aka, La Contessa Bathory
Her Grace wishes us all a Merry Christmas!

Annabelle

Annabelle

Emma Emmeline

Emma Emmeline
Our New Addition/fond of stuffed toys

Cloth Clown

Cloth Clown

Native American Art

Native American Art

the triplets

the triplets

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby
Bought Athens on the street

Iron Maiden; Middle Ages

Iron Maiden; Middle Ages

Sand Baby Swirls!

Sand Baby Swirls!
By Glenda Rolle, courtesy, the Artist

Glenda's Logo

Glenda's Logo
Also, a link to her site

Sand Baby Castaway

Sand Baby Castaway
By Glenda Rolle, Courtesy the Artist

A French Friend

A French Friend

Mickey

Mickey
From our friends at The Fennimore Museum

2000+ year old Roman Rag Doll

2000+ year old Roman Rag Doll
British Museum, Child's Tomb

Ancient Egypt Paddle Doll

Ancient Egypt Paddle Doll
Among first "Toys?"

ushabti

ushabti
Egyptian Tomb Doll 18th Dynasty

Ann Parker Doll of Anne Boleyn

Ann Parker Doll of Anne Boleyn

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Tin Head Brother and Sister, a Recent Purchase

Tin Head Brother and Sister, a Recent Purchase
Courtesy, Antique Daughter

Judge Peep

Judge Peep

Hakata Doll Artist at Work

Hakata Doll Artist at Work
From the Museum Collection

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Japanese Costume Barbies

Japanese Costume Barbies
Samurai Ken

Etienne

Etienne
A Little Girl

Happy Heart Day

Happy Heart Day

From "Dolls"

From "Dolls"
A Favorite Doll Book

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Jenny Wren

Jenny Wren
Ultimate Doll Restorer

Our Friends at The Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum

Our Friends at The Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum

Baby Boo 1960s

Baby Boo 1960s
Reclaimed and Restored as a childhood Sabrina the Witch with Meow Meow

Dr. E's on Display with sign

Dr. E's on Display with sign

Dolls Restored ad New to the Museum

Dolls Restored ad New to the Museum
L to R: K*R /celluloid head, all bisque Artist Googly, 14 in. vinyl inuit sixties, early celluloid Skookum type.

Two More Rescued Dolls

Two More Rescued Dolls
Late Sixties Vinyl: L to R: Probably Horseman, all vinyl, jointed. New wig. R: Effanbee, probably Muffy, mid sixties. New wig and new clothing on both. About 12 inches high.

Restored Italian Baby Doll

Restored Italian Baby Doll
One of Dr. E's Rescued Residents

Dolls on Display

Dolls on Display
L to R: Nutcrackers, Danish Troll, HItty and her book, Patent Washable, Mechanical Minstrel, Creche figure, M. Alexander Swiss. Center is a German mechanical bear on the piano. Background is a bisque German costume doll.

A Few Friends

A Few Friends
These dolls are Old German and Nutcrackers from Dr. E's Museum. They are on loan to another local museum for the holidays.

Vintage Collage

Vintage Collage
Public Domain Art

The Merry Wanderer

The Merry Wanderer
Courtesy R. John Wright, The Hummel Collection

The Fennimore Doll Museum

The Fennimore Doll Museum

Robert

Robert
A Haunted Doll with a Story

Halloween Dolls Displayed in a Local Library

Halloween Dolls Displayed in a Local Library

The Cody Jumeau

The Cody Jumeau
Long-faced or Jumeau Triste

German Princesses

German Princesses
GAHC 2005

A Little PowerRanger

A Little PowerRanger
Halloween 2004

The Island of the Dolls

The Island of the Dolls
Shrine to Dolls in Mexico

Based on the Nutshell Series of Death

Based on the Nutshell Series of Death
Doll House murder

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A lovely dress

A lovely dress

Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann
A few friends in cloth!

Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum, WI

Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum, WI
Pixar Animator's Collection

Little PM sisters

Little PM sisters
Recent eBay finds

Dressed Mexican Fleas

Dressed Mexican Fleas

Really old Dolls!

Really old Dolls!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

An Interview with R. John Wright-Originally on About.com Doll Collecting and Shared Here

Courtesy, R. John Wright
Courtesy, R.John Wright, Spring Time Lambs


I have been honored as a guest blogger on R. John Wright's magical site, and he in, turn, has honored us with the interview below!

1.      You have covered many eclectic and wonderful themes in creating your dolls; is there a dream doll you would still like to produce?

RJW:  Interesting question because there’s many dolls (and animals) we still wish to produce. Among them are dolls based on the wondrous images created by Maxfield Parrish and Arthur Rackham  - two of our favorite illustrators. But,  these may lend themselves better to tableaux or settings.

As far as a single character, we have long wanted to do Peter Pan. This would not be Disney’s version but closer to the original illustrations in the books by J. M. Barrie. When we took our four young children to London years ago, our first destination was to visit the famous statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. Someday we will find the time to make Peter Pan….

2.      The Fairy Tale Mice are charming; why did you choose mice to portray fairy tale motifs in doll making?

RJW:  We had just completed the set of mice representing the characters in the Wizard of Oz and they were so well-received by fans that we began to think of other ‘mouse’ possibilities. Classic fairy tales seemed like a good fit as it tapped into the droll nature of our mice. We’re planning a second group now which will include a haughty mouse depicting ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ Fun!

Courtesy, R. John Wright

3.      Your online history mentions that you started to think about a career in doll making after you met porcelain doll artist Gail Wilson. Why did you choose cloth as a medium over porcelain?

RJW:  There are a few reasons why I didn’t gravitate to porcelain. First, I didn’t know anything about working with porcelain and didn’t have access to a kiln or other equipment. Secondly, I wasn’t particularly drawn to porcelain dolls. They seemed cold and a bit too precious to me. I had a vision of dolls that were warmer and more accessible. And lastly, when I was a child my aunt Genevieve worked at the legendary department store, J. L. Hudson’s, in Detroit, Michigan. The window dressers there used quality wool felt in their displays which my aunt would rescue from the trash and bring home for me to play with. I would make little theaters and other things using the felt and I think I developed an affinity for it. When I saw the Steiff dolls were made of felt it immediately hit a chord with me.

4.      You mentioned Carl Fox’s “The Doll” was an important influence on your work since that is where you saw the Steiff school room; have any other books on dolls influenced your work?

RJW:  Right before I began to make dolls I found a funny little book at the Dartmouth library in Hanover, New Hampshire. It was called “Dolls & People” by Jeannette Mowrey and inside were profiles of several doll makers and doll collectors – with photos of their collections. It opened my eyes to a subculture of adults who loved dolls. One photo in particular was of some ‘Hillbilly’ dolls made by NIADA artist Grace Lathrop. That image formed the basis of the very first ‘rustic’ RJW dolls.

By Carl Fox, Public Domain Image

“Lenci Dolls” by Dorothy Coleman - the first book devoted to the Lenci company - came out in 1977. This was our first year making dolls and the timing couldn’t have been better. We poured over that book in an effort to learn how to mold felt doll faces and improve our work. In the end we had to find our own way to learn our craft but the dolls themselves were hugely inspirational.

5.      Your expression of children’s literature through making dolls is breath taking. Have you considered creating dolls influence by other works of literature or drama?

RJW:  One thing we’d love to do is make a series of dolls based on very early Hollywood stars such as Rudolph Valentino. We’ve also contemplated dolls from famous ballets. We were recently approached by the Game of Thrones people to consider a line of dolls but we generally steer clear of very new properties. There are still many classics we have on our list.

6.      I am awed by the meticulous detail in all your dolls, but especially The Hummel collection.  What about Hummels made you want to recreate them as dolls?

RJW:   I went to Catholic school for 12 years so I think there may be a connection there! I do love the image of children that Sister Innocentia Hummel portrayed so beautifully. We were also impressed by how airbrushing on felt evoked the warmth and coloration of the original Hummel paintings and figurines. It all began to seem like a good fit.

Celestial Messenger, the Hummel TM Collection, Courtesy, R. John Wright

7.      Are you a doll collector, too? If so, what kinds of dolls do you collect?

RJW: As expected, we primarily collect cloth dolls. However, we don’t have hardly any contemporary artist dolls in our collection. Instead, we gravitate towards antique dolls which were manufactured in much the same way our dolls are. These primarily include early dolls by the Lenci, Kathe Kruse, and Steiff companies. I also have a humorous collection of mid-century felt cartoon characters made by Lars of Italy.

8.      Who are your favorite artists, not necessarily doll artists? Why?

RJW:  I am especially drawn to Vermeer’s paintings - but of course who isn’t?! There are many other painters I admire that are on most people’s list: Sargent, Homer, Mary Cassatt, Degas, Van Gogh. A more obscure artist is the Swiss painter Albert Anker.

Young Girl by Mary Cassatt, Public Domain Image



Albert Anker, Kind mit Puppe [Child with Doll]Public Domain Image


Susan has always loved the baroque painters such as Caravaggio while I gravitate towards the cooler, more Northern aesthetic. I think that makes us a good pair!


 
9.      What are your thoughts about the future of doll making?  About the future of doll collecting?

RJW:   When we started out we were inspired by the companies who manufactured the antique dolls we admired so greatly. While I was a member of NIADA it became obvious that I was an anomaly. All the members were either people who made dolls alone or sold their designs to companies to produce. Now, decades later, we’re struck by how there are still so very few artists who opt to produce their own dolls in quantity under their direct supervision. Most artists simply don’t want the headache of hiring and training a production team. So the future of doll making will most likely continue with artists crafting their dolls by themselves and far fewer companies making collector dolls.

Simon, the Toddler Bears, Courtesy R. John Wright

As for doll collecting, there will always be people who seek out excellence whether it be in the realm of antiques or currently-made items. And there will always be people who love dolls. But I think it will be a far smaller number than we saw in the ‘collectibles’ boom in the 80s and 90s. It will most likely resemble the world of doll collecting before that time which was a small subculture of people who were doll enthusiasts, not unlike the stories in “Dolls & People” which was published in 1956.

10.  Do you have any advice to share with either young artists or young doll artists?

RJW:  I would encourage doll makers to be “one’s own worst critic” - always striving to improve and never settling for less than the best you can do.  As doll makers for 40 years, we’ve found that’s what keeps it most interesting!

Courtesy, R. John Wright

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