Connie and Dennis Zink started Land of Oz Dolls in Savanna, Illinois in January of 1979. After signing up for a porcelain doll class advertised in the local newspaper in 1978, Connie was just going to make that one doll.
Now, 33 years and several thousand dolls later, Connie is still making dolls, teaching classes and seminars, and exhibiting at an occasional doll show across the country. Even after all these years the excitement of finishing a new sample doll made from a new mold purchase is just as exhilarating as ever. Connie has found that the joys of doll making know no boundaries.
Dennis pours the greenware for the 1,800 modern and antique reproduction dolls that Land of Oz Dolls offers to its customers. The studio in Savanna also offers a complete array of porcelain slip, china paints, brushes, wigs, eyes, shoes, socks, doll stands and finished dolls as it has been a distributor for “Seeley’s”, ( now New York Doll Products), “Bell”, “Global”, “Monique”, “Kemper”, Mystic Molds, "Evenheat " and "Good Kilns" for many years. Land of Oz Dolls also carries their own line of china paints for antique reproduction and modern dolls. A vast array of supplies like this makes Land of Oz Dolls a one-stop doll making shop.
Connie’s weekly classes run Wednesday mornings and afternoons, and Thursday evenings at the shop in Savanna. She also teaches many two and three day seminars throughout the year at the shop in Savanna. She offers seminars in both antique reproductions and modern dolls and offers seminars on eye painting techniques. Connie has recently started teaching online classes also.
The highlight of the year is the Land of Oz Dolls’ "Dolly Days Get-Aways" in the spring and the fall. There are endless seminars, workshops, lectures, and demonstrations taught by Connie and other instructors from across the country. Field trips to local antique stores and fabric shops are on the agenda along with enjoying a leisurely meal at one of the banquet dinners. Because there is so much to do, many attendees stay for an entire week.
Connie finds teaching the most fulfilling aspect of her doll-making career. She relates: “Seeing the joy on that new student’s face after completing her first baby doll to the more advanced student when the concept of painting those dreaded French eyebrows finally clicks, excites me to this day.” The rewards from this profession are multi-fold. Friendships made through this industry can last a lifetime. My life would not be the same without all of the wonderful people I have met during the course of the last 33 years.”
When Connie is not teaching a class, filling an order, traveling to a show, or completing a doll, she is an active gardener and enjoys working in her many flower gardens at her home and shop in Savanna. Connie was awarded the State of Illinois "Outstanding Master Gardener " award by the University of Illinois Extension Service in 2007. Connie also enjoys bird-watching and nature photography. Connie is the current president of "Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge" and gives tours of the Upper Miss Wildlife Refuge in Savanna Illinois via 8 passenger golf cart. Please look for us; Connie Zink and Land of Oz Dolls on Facebook!!