After taking out a small business loan to buy an existing Seeley Doll Studio, Jennie Sykes spent years improving her skills, broadening her knowledge, and making contacts in the industry. “I learned about the craft of dollmaking through many resources,” Sykes said, including “trial and error in the studio, as well as through Doll Artisan Guild classes and competitions. As I learned more, the dollmaking bug cemented its grasp.” She also had to balance her passion for dollmaking with pragmatism, working hard to maintain a traditional job to support her family while also running her studio.

“I not only provided classes but provided parts to doll hospitals. My continued training in porcelain and porcelain repair allowed additional opportunities in collection restorations. Finally, with my knowledge of doll histories and values, I provide appraisals and assist with estate sales.

“With over 700 successfully completed restoration projects, more than 300 porcelain dolls created and sold, a consistent backlog of repair and costuming requests, plus custom orders and workshops under contract, the business has grown to a point where I could set aside my accounting career to work fulltime in a newly combined retail and teaching studio: Porcelain Classics in Hastings, Michigan.

“The store offers a wide range of antique and vintage items, including dolls as well as some of my own reproductions. The studio/classroom area can seat 18 to 30 people comfortably for workshops and special events; dollmaking and doll repair classes with a maximum of 10 students in each session run two times a week. “Finally, dollmaking and restoration has taken over my professional career, and I am truly enjoying every day!”

Restorations & finished doll projects by Jennie Sykes

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