2. Steiff Kinder dolls , "The upcoming Steiff Kinder dolls - which is a 'full circle' of sorts for us." - R. John Wright
PH: Can you tell me a bit more about some of the technical challenges you have overcome ?
RJW: Certainly the molding of the doll faces, bodies, and limbs presented technical as well as artistic challenges as our work progressed. Turning very small fingers, jointing effectively, stuffing firmly etc. etc. The art of ventilating the wigs was a challenge which we knew we wanted to accomplish ever since we first saw it used on the Lenci 300 series dolls. Apart from these basic things, every project has new technical challenges associated with it. We also make animal characters in addition to the dolls and there were many technical problems to overcome with that as well. There is also the main ongoing challenge -- often overlooked -- of putting a doll into production so that it maintains all of the qualities of the original prototype.
PH: What personal qualities have contributed to your success?
RJW: Perseverance and Tenacity would have to be at the top of the list.
PH: What advice would you give to someone who is starting in doll making?
RJW: Find an area of dollmaking that you can excel in. Devote yourself completely to being the best you can possibly be in that area. This will require you to be your own worst critic, but the rewards are endless.
PH: Do you have any tips for maintaining a successful working partnership with one's spouse/partner?
RJW: We are lucky to have forged the working relationship that we have. I often say that we "take turns giving up" because we share quite a number of duties -- creative as well as administrative. For example, one of us may begin a sculpture and then the other will jump in and contribute to it and the first person will finish it off. Our work truly is a collaboraton. In order to be able do this, there cannot be any room for individual egos. Instead, both partners must work hand-in-hand always with the same goal in mind.
PH: Do you and Susan keep a collection of art/antique dolls, and can you tell us about them?
RJW: As one might expect, we have an extensive cloth doll collection. This consists of Izannah Walker, Steiff dolls, Kathe Kruse, and of course vintage Lencis. We don't own any artist dolls because it is the work of the early companies which has always inspired us and was in fact the impetus for us to commit our energies to dollmaking. In addition to dolls, I have an antique tin boat collection and Susan collects Limoges boxes. Together we also have a collection of original children's book illustrative art.
PH: I understand you are collaborating with Steiff for a current project
RJW: The upcoming Steiff Kinder dolls - which is a 'full circle' of sorts for us. These are inspired by the early Steiff dolls which set me off in dollmaking. The Steiff Kinder dolls will be produced by us and distributed by Steiff
PH: What gives you most pleasure in your work today?
RJW: The same thing that gave us pleasure when we began. That is, visualizing something and then actually seeing it become a reality.
PH: R John, thanks so much for your time and patience in responding to my questions, and for the photos of the dolls from your personal collection. It is a privilege to have this opportunity to gain some insight into your world - the source of such delight and wonder you bring to so many though your marvelous creations!