Roger, originally from Hitterdal, Minnesota and Leilani (that's me), born in Tampa, Florida, met, married and reside in West Hills, CA, where our three children were born and raised. Roger retired in 1994 from his job as a surveyor for a private engineering firm and joined me as a full time miniaturist in our family business.
The question we are most asked is "When and how did you get started in this business?" Well, it was due to a series of events. In 1982, I had just flunked "How to Make Porcelain Dolls" class, discovering not only that I did not have the talent or patience when it came to painting, but was allergic to the porcelain dust to boot. About that same time, our niece Dana asked for a white wicker bedroom set for her new dollhouse as a Christmas present. Roger and I had attended our first miniature show (encouraged to do so by Jeanne Elliott, a doll-making classmate of mine) and had been shown the basics in weaving wicker, so it was a short step to designing and making Dana's present. We measured our bed at home, sketched a headboard, scaled it down and we were off and running after purchasing supplies from Mostly Miniatures in Sherman Oaks, CA. It was there that I took my first miniature class ever, the three-bay room by Brooke Tucker. Not only is Brooke a good teacher and good friend, but very, very patient and kind, considering I walked in cold with no prep work done whatsoever, nor any idea of what I was making! I remember it was a four-day class--with Brooke's help during class and Roger's help in the evenings, the room box was completed. Undaunted , I took several more classes from Brooke, which were equally enjoyable and met Dona Favilla, who together with her husband Bud, are some of our dearest friends to this day.
In 1984, we attended our first miniature show as dealers in Phoenix, AZ. Soon thereafter, we met Larrianne Hildetch of Larrianne's Small Wonders in Ventura, CA, who was the first person to encourage us to teach a wicker class in her shop. The Victorian Crib was our first class, followed by a series of other wicker pieces. My technical writing experience coupled with Roger's drawing, photography and overall common sense approach made for a winning combination. Having wonderful students was just a big bonus and blessing. After refining and copywriting the directions for several wicker kits, we were soon teaching at NAME Houseparties and other shops as well. At present, there are 30 kits available, with more on the drawing board.
Over the years, we have designed custom pieces for specific projects; among them the patio furniture and birdcages for the Yellow Rose of Texas House designed and made by Brooke Tucker, currently in the Arnell Museum in Tucson, AZ.
We were honored to have been chosen to design and make 1225 souvenir chairs for the 1991 NAME National Houseparty--that project took approximately two years to complete.
When not in the workroom or office with Patches, our "Cocker plus" puppy that joined our family nine years ago, you can usually find us either riding bicycles or at the gym. Our eleven-year old grandson, Matthew keeps us hopping, either playing handball with his Poppa or cards with Grandma and he knows he's the "best boy in the world".