Archives for category: Dolls
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.


Continuing from Death Valley, our plan was to drive from Death Valley to Fresno and spend the night with my cousin Liz and her family.

En route we stopped for lunch in the town of Inyokern, California, which is in the Mohave Desert.  My dad was in the Navy during World War II and he was stationed there.  He always felt that wasn’t fair, he loved the sea and had hoped to serve on a ship. Instead he got desert duty. My mother, sister and I spent about six weeks living there in a tiny motel to be near him. Most nights he was able to be home with us. I have many memories of that time though I couldn’t have been more than 4. We did find the motel where our little family had lived, and we had lunch at a colorful local place, but there isn’t much going on in Inyokern.

Lunch in Inyokern

Motel in Inyokern

motel 60 years later<

with cousin Liz

Cousin Liz on the right, under the orange tree

Liz is a little older than I am. Liz was adopted as an infant and I think the family discussions, and talking with her about adoption, kindled my interest in adoption as a child. She now lives with her husband Jim in a lovely old section of Fresno. She is surrounded by family.  In the short time we were there we saw three of their four children as well as some grandchildren. They have two orange trees and Raven had his first experience climbing an orange tree and picking a few fruits. Liz served a luscious lemon sauce over a cake she had made as well as fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

Ripley's under the orange tree

Ripley family under the orange tree

Raven in an orange tree

Raven climbing to pick oranges.

Liz suggested that we visit the Vine Market on our way out of town. It is covered with vines which provide shade and reduce the glare from the bright sun. We saw many unusual vegetables including a large array of mushrooms. We bought radishes, green onions, cilantro, and fresh strawberries.

Vine market

Vine Market

fresh vegetables

Common and unusual vegetables


An entire display of fresh mushrooms

We have one more stop to make. Before heading for home later today we will visit Wendy Lawton, the maker of my favorite dolls. We have a bit of business to do, and will have lunch together.


Joy, ready for the 4th of July


patty in Spring

Kiesha, these are nine inch dolls, Wendy sculpts the heads and designs the clothing.


Do daughters of doll collectors become fans of dolls as well? There has been a recent discussion on my doll email group, about daughters and dolls and how some daughters of collectors love them and others just aren’t interested. With Seneca I am not sure yet, she loves certain dolls, but I have no influence, she chooses what she likes.

holding dolls

A handful of dolls


Arranging the doll house, lots of choices


Many dolls and lots accessories and clothing too

A friend helped us get this wooden doll house which sits in the family room and gets many hours of play.  It is the first thing visiting children want to play with.  It is peopled by little plastic dolls which Seneca calls “Polly Pockets.”  Their clothing is colorful and made of mostly of flexible plastic.  The dolls, for the most part, have come from garage sales or from the Goodwill and she has a large collection.    The furniture, mostly wooden, is almost to scale and she has some plastic furniture as well.

seneca doll house

The doll house is wooden

Seneca, and sometimes her older brother, who will remain nameless in this blog, spend hours in imaginative play, stopping intermittently for an argument.  Right now they are getting ready for a party where they plan to perform a song for the guests.  And they are hunting for a puppy who seems to have disappeared.  And now they have morphed into home school, which they think would be terrific until I remind them that I would be the teacher.

These two dealt with a lot of unpleasant stuff as little kids and I tend to think they are working through that rather than loving the doll aspect, but time will tell.  I hope we have a budding collector!

I need to share a letter Seneca delivered to me yesterday.   I am saving this for one of the times I feel like throwing in the towel.

letter from Seneca

As for me, I spent part of the weekend creating a doll quilt which will go with items made by other doll collectors, into a raffle to raise money for the United Federation of Doll Clubs. I took this photo in MY doll house, which is upstairs in our doll “museum.”

Wendy admiring the new doll quilt, which will be given away

Wendy admiring the new doll quilt, which will be given away

Mary's quilt

We have lived in this house for nearly 18 years but had never  repainted inside the house.  Recently, after much discussion about color, Ted started in the dining room. It is now a citrus and cream shade of green with a darker green accent, in the areas where we get the most fingerprints. This meant changing things a bit and updating what we had hanging on the walls. My friend Mary, who died last summer, is the person who got me started quilting. She created “art” quilts in her later years and she named one after me. I was thrilled when her daughter offered to send it to me. It is actually a wall hanging, and it takes center stage in the new arrangement.

Merrily by Mary

“MERRILY” by Mary

Ted and I have enjoyed the paintings of Joan Kickbush She is famous for paintings of native children in Alaska. Ted has a two of her paintings in his office and there is one hanging over the couch in our family room.   The painting that we have moved to our dining room was painted in the 1970 with green overtones (remember avocado green refrigerators) and we had it hung very high in our two-story entry way because the green color was a bit overwhelming. However, it is perfect on the new green wall next to Mary’s wall hanging.

Painting by Joan Kickbush, now in our dining room

Painting by Joan Kickbush, now in our dining room

Notice the little doll being pulled on a sled!

This move left space in the entry way for the new snowy owl wall hanging which I just finished yesterday.  It is big and bright and it needed a quiet corner where the owl could look down without being disturbed.  I am very happy with the new arrangements.

Owl hanging

I still love to play with dolls. I like to dress them and arrange them and make up little stories to go along with them. And I am not alone, there is yahoo group of doll people who are fans of an American doll artist and creator, Wendy Lawton of Turlock, California. These people have become friends and we see each other from time to time at doll conventions around the country. Each month we have a theme and we create photos or stories to go with the theme. January’s theme has been “Favorite Season” and I put sweet Patty in the nursery, waiting to go outside to play on a warm spring morning, wearing her little knit sweater.

patty right

Waiting to go outside to play

I have been helping to coordinate prizes members donate for the monthly drawing and I was surprised and thrilled to receive a beautiful hand crocheted chrstening dress for a tiny doll from Wendy Lawton as a “thank you.”

Jafry in the christening dress

Here are some of my other photo entries.


Joy on the 4th or July


Bobbsey Twins with my childhood story book


A walk in the woods


Playing paper dolls


Red Riding Hood meets the wolf


Ready for Trick or Treat

Dolls give me platform for play, which I think more adults could use. Or maybe I am just a grown-up kid.

These women have known each other for over 60 years. We went through school together, raised our kids together, shared the joys and frustration of family life, health issues, careers, and marriage. We all like to cook and when we gather once a year, eating is a major activity. We also enjoy quilting and crafty projects and have created some lovely things at our at weekend retreats.

There were 10 of us plus one who lives in Arizona and participates in our email group. This year two died and when we met over the weekend, memories were shared of Mary who died in August and Joan who had hoped to pariticpate in the retreat but died last week. These very old friends were missed.

There is something very special about sharing memories of teachers, camping trips together over the years, children’s escapades and lives challlenges in general with friends who have lived through those experiences with you. We are very lucky to have this group.

Quilting is an activity we have shared and Glenna made this quilt top for a great granddaughter due to arrive shortly.

Glenna's quilt

Studying directions after breakfast

Sandy flashes her lovely smile

Jeanne and Merrily share a quiet moment

<a href=””&gt;Jeanne and Merrily

Pat has encouraged Raven’s violin study and they played a duet for us.

<a href=””&gt;concert

An uninvited visitor made an appearance


This is the year I am starting a blog. With quilting, dolls, recipes, travel, kids, family and friends, there are so many things happening I want to share and remember.

Yesterday Ted helped the kids choose from our collection of antique toy stoves to do some kid baking. The stoves were all a bit dusty and the smell when they were plugged in was not promising. After an hour or so of mixing giggling and timing, the smells improved as the little cakes baked.

Yes, it really works!

Yes, it really works!


An older version

An older version


Checking progress with a flash light

Please try it--

Please try it–