Wendy and Keith Lawton

Wendy and Keith Lawton at the entrance to their home

Creative, talented, charming, compassionate, full of fun, full of new ideas, these are some of the words and phrases used to describe Wendy Lawton.   Wendy comes up with the ideas for the dolls she creates, then brings them to life with amazing sculpts.  These are not just pretty faces but faces that tell the stories and put you in the time and place of the dolls.   She designs the costumes often using antique fabrics and laces and always with fine detail.  Until a few years ago the dolls were produced in the Lawton workshop in Turlock, California, but with the challenge of economic conditions they scaled down and doll production has been moved to their home.  Wendy believes in quality and encourages people to play with their dolls.  She has a large following of collectors.

Our kids are very familiar with Wendy Lawton dolls as we have many in our home and we all were looking forward to our visit with Wendy and Keith.   They live in a beautifully furnished home in area of nice homes surrounded by farms where produce and dairy herds are raised.  This is in the San Joaquin Valley area of California.

Seneca and Raven enjoyed meeting the family dog, Betsy (named for the character Betsy in “Betsy-Tacy and Tibb,” a children’s book) and they went outside to play with her.  We had  a short visit then proceeded to the Hilmar Cheese Company for lunch.

R and S with Betsy

Betsy, the Lawton dog, got lots of attention from Seneca and Raven

Hilmar Cheese Company was developed by local dairy farmers who needed a market for their milk.  It is now the largest cheese producing plant in the world.   We had an assortment of sandwiches and pizza from the Hilmar Cafe, then the children went upstairs to observe cheese production from the visitor’s windows which look down on the plant.  They enjoyed the exhibits and hands-on activities.

Seneca at Hilmer cheese

Seneca dressed in a “cheese maker” outfit

Raven at Hillmar cheese

Raven viewing the educational exhibits at the cheese factory

Back at the Lawton home we had a tour of the new landscaping being done, saw the workshop where the dolls are fired and visited Wendy’s work area, which at the moment is filled with doll heads and clothing, waiting for their wooden bodies to be sent from the supplier.  Wendy did not want me to take a photo, and is just hoping that the bodies arrive soon.  Then the dolls will be assembled, dressed and wigged and her work room will be back to normal again.

Wendy and Merrily

Merrily and Wendy outside Wendy’s studio

It is always a treat to chat with Wendy, she is a great story-teller and actually is also an author.   She shared about how her family had also cared for foster childrenwhen she was a child and what a good experience it was for her.

Raven viewed a display of Wendy’s dolls and recognized them saying “Oh, those are Wendy Lawton Dolls” but he didn’t seem to realize that Wendy Lawton, the person, was across the room.

Mailing May

One of Seneca and Raven’s favorite dolls is MAILING MAY. She comes with the children’s classic storybook about being sent by mail to visit her grandmother

The big treat of the afternoon for the kids was the lovely little cakes that had been purchased from OLDE TYME PASTRIES a special bakery in Turlock.


Very special pastry treats

I am a huge Wendy Lawton fan and have many of her dolls in my collection.  We have sold Wendy Lawton dolls since opening our doll business Apple Tree Dolls & Bears in the late 1990’s.   One of my favorites is Nalauqataq who reminds me of our son Ben who came from Korea, but died of cancer.


One of my favorite dolls, Nalaugqtaq, who reminds me of our son Ben.

We enjoyed our time with Wendy and Keith.  When we left we headed for home, spending one night in Yreka, California on the way.  It was good to be home after 18 days and 4500 miles.  I have one more blog to write about the trip, that is about our four days in Salt Lake City with daughter Robin and her family.  I had to skip that part to keep up with happenings and I want to go back to tell you about that.