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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. 

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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. 

Animals and Christmas: A Special Meaning

John Wright

1. Jesus our brother, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude
And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

2. "I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
"I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town."
"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

3. "I," said the cow all white and red
"I gave Him my manger for His bed;
I gave him my hay to pillow his head."
"I," said the cow all white and red.

4. "I," said the sheep with curly horn,
"I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn."
"I," said the sheep with curly horn.

5. "I," said the dove from the rafters high,
"I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry;
We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I."
"I," said the dove from the rafters high.

6. Thus every beast by some good spell,
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Immanuel,
The gift he gave Immanuel.

7. "I," was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Immanuel,
The gift he gave Immanuel.
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

                 Carol of the Friendly Beasts, 12th C. Latin hymn for Christmas

Animals of all kinds have been a part of the holidays for centuries, ever since the first Nativity. Animals are also associated with St. Francis of Assisi. Early Crèche, Nativity, or Precipio scenes incorporate animals of all kinds: doves, cows, camels, sheep and lambs, goats, dogs, birds in general, cows, donkeys, and more.   More than one Christmas story involves animals being given the beast of speech on Christmas Eve as a reward for their shelter of The Christ Child.  Even spiders have their place in Christmas stories; their webs were turned to gold and silver on a Christmas tree they climbed in order to see it more closely.

Bonzo by R. John Wright is a wonderful reminder of the role that animals, especially dogs, play in The Holidays.  Who wouldn’t want this darling, wriggling puppy waiting for him or her on Christmas Morning?

Darling Bonzo is based on “The Sketch” (1922) by George E. Studdy.  He is the happiest puppy ever to wag his tale in Dolldom!

During the 1920s, Bonzo was one of the most popular characters, if not the most popular character, of his time.  He inspired stories, art, figurines, and all kinds of memorabilia.  He is back for his encore as an R. John Wright creation, made of wool plush with fine felt details and molded/hand painted features.  One half expects him to bark in happiness.

Other wonderful “children” of the R. John Wright studios personify the spirit of “The Carol of the Friendly Beasts” including Angel Serenade which features a lamb, and The Christmas Kittens and Father Christmas Mice.  

Springtime Lambs and Toddler Bears are also beloved animals of RJW Studios.

In the past, R. John Wright has given us many animal characters including the “stars” of Winnie the Pooh, Joey the Koala, more bears, and Tulip the Rabbit. This wonderful menagerie reminds one of a favorite episode of The Vicar of Dibley (PBS and BBC TV) where Geraldine the Vicar holds a service to bless animals, and a few little children bring their teddy bears. 

.  Children, animals, and beloved stuff toys have all become icons of Christmas, something R. John Wright clearly understands.  Season’s Greetings to All, and a Peaceful, Happy New Year!

About the author: Ellen Tsagaris has collected dolls since she was three years old. She has made dolls, priced dolls, repaired, dressed, and studied dolls.  She has set up at craft shows and presented papers on dolls and their history at the Midwest Modern Language Association.  She is the author of several articles on dolls that have appeared in Doll Reader, National Doll World, Doll Designs, International Doll World, Hope and Glory, Doll News, Adventures, and The Western Doll Collector. She is the author of two books about dolls, Bibliography of Doll and Toy Sources and With Love from Tin Lizzie; A History of Metal Heads, Metal Dolls, Mechanical Dolls, and Automatons.  An active blogger, she features two blogs about dolls, Dr. E’s Doll Museum, and Doll Museum.  She lectures on dolls for various organizations and has displayed part of her collection in museums.

“Dolls are among the oldest cultural artifacts, and perhaps are the oldest toys.  My passion for dolls began when I was a toddler, and it has never stopped. Explore the wonderful world of all things ‘doll’ with me.”