Dolls and Designs by Sandi opened for business in Morganton, NC in 1990. Prior to that the young enterprise had been a home based business begun by Sandi Walker in the mid ‘80’s while taking porcelain doll-making classes at Cleveland Community College in Shelby, NC. (Then the school was called Cleveland Tech).
Sandi decided to move out in to the business world and share her love and talent for doll making with the other doll lovers in Burke County. She began in an upstairs studio in downtown Morganton, offering classes sponsored by Western Piedmont Community College. When she was asked to teach Senior classes at the local Senior Center, she soon found that trying to move the dolls around so much was too big a task. She began looking around and found a house in Morganton that would accommodate the classes. The shop grew at that location for five years, till the owners of the building had to have it torn down to make a parking lot. Sandi relocated to another house three miles outside of Morganton, which proved to be a bad location. In January of 2000 she moved the shop to a much larger downtown location in a nearby town called Valdese. Sandi says “it’s a match made in heaven. The people and the officials of Valdese have been wonderful! I have become so attached to the town and its beautiful heritage that I have begun producing my own line of Waldensian dolls to honor the traditions of the founding ladies of the town.”
The shop offers a full line of accessories and supplies to finish any of the over 600 doll molds in her collection. These include a wide variety of German and French Reproductions, Modern artist dolls, Character dolls, and lots of babies . For the artisans that prefer other challenges to their talent, the shop offers a selection of nearly 300 ornaments and figurines.
Sandi recently acquired all of the inventory from Dolls by Jerri of Charlotte NC. (Jerri was the largest dollmaker in the Southeast and Internationally famous as well) This move made Dolls & Designs the largest doll maker in North Carolina.
“Doll making is a way of life and is the best therapy you can ever provide. A number of my students affirm that doll-making is a lot cheaper than doctor visits.” says Sandi. “I have students that have been with me as long as I have been teaching. We have all become one big family. We celebrate each student’s birthday with a covered dish lunch and all the trimmings.” Doll making classes are offered on Mondays and Wednesdays. Other classes will be set up to suit individual schedules.