December 2009
Featured Gallery
Rose-ellen Horan By Alice Bell
CDHM Asst Editor

Photos courtesy of
Rose-ellen Horan

CDHM artisan Rose-ellen Horan

CDHM artisan Rose-ellen Horan For Rose-ellen Horan's first Christmas, she didn't get a Christmas present - she WAS the present!

"I was born on Dec. 21 and brought home on Christmas Day and presented to my four-year-old brother Joe as one of his Christmas presents!" she chortled.

As the years passed she would receive many gifts of her own, including many baby dolls and a couple rather spectacular dollhouses.

"I was interested in dolls and dollhouses from a very early age. My first dollhouse was a four-room house with a roof that came off built by my Uncle Lou. It even had a sink with a working water pump!" she exclaimed.

Her Uncle Lou was her mother's oldest brother and a huge inspiration to her.

"He was a display artist and much of his work is world-renowned. Some of his pieces include the huge blue whale in the New York Museum of Natural History and the original "It's a Small World" as it appeared in the New York World's Fair of 1965, later brought to Disney®," she said.

The other spectacular dollhouse came from another important man in her life, her husband Bob. It was a three story "mansion" based on a version of Washington's Mt. Vernon home. CDHM artisan Rose-ellen Horan dollhouse miniature bedding, bedspread and pillows 1:12 scale

"It still exists, now in my daughter Laura's home in Pennsylvania, USA. When Bob built it for me miniatures were popular but not as easily accessible as they are now. To fill it, I built my own furniture, some from kits, some from scratch, and sewed, crocheted - even knitted on straight pins - to make many little accessories.

"I made counted cross stitch rugs using fine silk thread and 40 mesh silk fabrics - imagine 1600 stitches per square inch. I built dolls from museum kits, made bread dough flowers, fruits and vegetables and was forever thinking about how I could convert some household item into a new miniature treasure. Some of my items were sold through various miniature stores in the Washington, DC area in the late 70's," she added.

A couple moves to other states, the birth of her grandchildren and an early retirement later and Rose-ellen was in need of something to fill her empty hours.

"My interest in miniatures was reborn with the encouragement of my best friend and I started making yo yo quilts. Over the years, my yo yos became smaller and smaller and my patterns more and more complicated. I only make a few a year now, usually custom orders because of the ridiculous time it takes to make them," she said.

CDHM artisan Rose-ellen Horan dollhouse miniature pillows, yoyo bedding, bedspread and pillows 1:12 scale

So she moved on to bigger and better things in miniature. Her current creations are mostly sewn items in the 1:12 scale with a few 1:24 and are offered on CDHM, Ebay and Etsy from US$2.00 to several hundred. Bedspreads, curtains and pillows are stitched up using as many vintage materials as possible. Rose Ellen credits her late mother for her sewing skills.

"My mother was a very talented seamstress who could make anything. She taught me to be innovative," she said. This innovative spirit led her to accept a difficult commission that had an unexpected outcome.

"A customer wanted a wedding gown for an antique store she was building. I designed a special gown, complete with many details including tiny buttons down the back and a puffed out bustle. I later found out that it would be lain across a bed where all these details would be hidden!"

Another custom request to duplicate a serving bowl was a particular challenge for Rose-ellen.

"I carefully molded a very thin bowl using Fimo clay and an avocado pit for a mold! I had a little stand on it and was quite proud of my results. When my son-in-law, who is well built and 6'5" tall saw it, he picked it up and squeezed it to see how sturdy it was - it broke."

Despite this trauma, Rose-ellen is still eager to work with clay - she just isn't allowing her son-in-law near her finished projects again! And just like her early days crafting miniatures for her Mt. Vernon mansion, Rose-ellen takes great delight in creating a wide variety of items in addition to her sewing projects.

"I make flower arrangements and special Christmas decorations using preserved miniature princess pine. I make trees, wreaths, swags and sprays decorated with crystals, gemstones, pearls and sand dollar "doves" - those little pieces from inside a sand dollar." CDHM artisan Rose-ellen Horan dollhouse miniature pillows, yoyo bedding, bedspread and pillows 1:12 scale

She lives in Florida so those sand dollars are fairly easy to find. All these creations are scattered throughout her two-bedroom condo.

"I work all over the place! I design most of my creations in our second bedroom which is where I store my tools, supplies, sewing machine, etc. I guess this could be called a workshop of sorts. I lay out my designs on the dining room table and also use that for my photography. I do my handsewing in my cozy chair while we are watching tv at night," she said.

"I love seeing what new things I can learn and new people I can meet every day. I always have a hundred things to do, most left over from the day before. I love being retired and being able to do what I want when I want with whom I want for as long as I want. What more can one ask for?"

Explore Rose-ellen Horan's Curtains, Linens, Bedspreads and more.

Explore the other Needlework, Crochet and Linens Artisan Galleries.

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