The Jean and Ken Nordquist Story…
Jean and Ken Nordquist have been active in the world of dollmaking and collecting since 1979. At that time Ken refinished a high chair and suggested to Jean they should shop for an antique doll to sit in it. When they discovered how much an old doll cost, Ken said to Jean, since she had an art background and teaching degree, that maybe she should make a doll instead.
A mail order bisque doll kit came first. Since Jean could find no one locally to teach her, she decided to offer classes herself through the Experimental College of the University of Washington. What was supposed to be one class turned into 24 students vying for space and two evening classes. So Ken built a classroom and Jean, working full time as an accountant in a bank, invested all her overtime money in doll molds and supplies. Jean taught her students and they taught her!
A street fair the following year brought over 100 new students adding to a long waiting list. Jean left the bank to become a full time dollmaker/instructor. In 1981 she started travel teaching for Seeley's and the Doll Artisan Guild (until 1986 with Seeley's and then travel taught using her own line). She won top honors at doll shows for her outstanding dolls and made hundreds of dolls a year for local stores including Frederick and Nelson department store in downtown Seattle.
In 1985 Jan and Dick Swift of Glen Burnie, Maryland put their mold line up for sale. They were relatively unknown and their molds were well made and of rarer dolls not already available to dollmakers. Jean being a doll moldaholic, suggested to Ken that making molds might be a nice addition to their business which to this point had mostly been carried on by Jean alone with Ken's moral support. Ken being a talented craftsman found the idea intriguing. And so after a visit with the Swifts, Jean and Ken found themselves in the mold business beginning in June of 1985. By April of the next year, Jean had made enough samples of their doll offerings for the couple to show their new line at the Bohler Doll and Ceramic show in Anaheim, CA. Ken was still working full time in car sales. But their mold line was so well received, by the time they got back home to Seattle, Ken gave his two week notice to the car dealership and started mold making in earnest. In 1987 Jean formulated their china paint line. Shortly after that, her partnership with Beverly Anderson, her lead costumer, was created to form Collectible Doll Fashions pattern line. Three instructional videos were produced. A book was written by Jean and published by Scott Publishing on "Making and Decorating Chinas, Parians, and Bonnet Dolls."
In 1989 the couple moved into their first commercial building in Seattle and opened a retail doll store and instructional dollmaking studio with their manufacturing taking place on the lower floor. They employed 8 enthusiastic dollmakers, instructors, mold makers and collectors who continued to work with them for many years till they moved to Sequim, WA in 2000. There they continued to manufacture their products and distribute goumet dollmaking supplies including Doris Thurlow Knits and Crochets among many others.
In 1999, the couple made the trek by plane to sell at the February ceramic show in Orlando, Florida. Wondering how to show their line easily and safely, transporting all by plane, Jean decided to display her dolls and their wardrobes in boxes. She made 8 displays. They proved to be one of the most popular products she had ever shown. By show end, she was promising to have her first workbook available entitled "Dolls in Boxes". It was released three months later at the Bohler show and was an immediate hit. It put the couple into the antique paper collecting business to offer antique reproduction paper doll accessories.
In 2007, Jean and Ken sold their entire line except their paper projects to Beckie Decker of Cedar Hill, Texas who also purchased Bell Ceramics and porcelain. Beckie proudly sells the Nordquist's Collectible Doll Company products in a wonderful showroom in a state of the art facility. She also owns www.jeannordquistdolls.com. Jean and Ken moved to Spokane to be near their family with semi retirement in mind. Ken stopped producing molds and reverted back to his original craft of making things in wood and the paper covered wooden kits began. People were asking for smaller â€œminiâ€ projects to do with doll clubs and at shows and their Make N Takes developed. Having amassed an extensive ephemera collection, it was only natural Jean would produce scrapbook projects. And it took only one popular doll trunk to create the 16 trunk line and growing.
So here they are today, still enjoying time with dollmaking friends, visiting at doll shows, teaching a few seminars and creating wonderful doll accessories to share with you. And, oh yes, Jean still makes the occasional porcelain doll fulfilling the passion that started it all. All project requests are happily considered and joyfully reproduced.