Artist show planned at Ellen Rice Studio & Learning Center

A one-day show featuring miniature artist Ann Cooper and her one-of-a-kind handmade, lighted creations will bring holiday cheer this coming Saturday, Dec. 7, to the new Ellen Rice Studio, Gallery & Learning Center on the Cedar Neck Peninsula of Ocean View.

From 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m., the artist will share with guests her inspiration and intricate methods for creating remarkably realistic miniature beach cottage interiors, or “happy worlds” as she calls them, lit by miniature working chandeliers, candlesticks and even fireplaces, all designed to bring out “the special warmth of the Christmas season.” Her lanterns also feature Ellen Rice paintings in miniature.

“I love her work,” said Rice. “Each piece draws you in. I can imagine any child or anyone still a child at heart will be captivated by Ann’s creations.”

A part-time resident of Bear Trap, Cooper said her inspiration for creating miniatures came from her dad in childhood.

“He taught me the love of miniatures. He loved model trains, and his train gardens were just beautiful.”

Her father was a mechanical engineer by trade and “an artist by nature,” she recalled. “His precision and attention to detail were remarkable. From the earliest age, I loved to ‘help’ my dad, arranging and rearranging the houses, trees and people in the garden while dad tinkered with his trains and tracks.”

When Cooper was 7 years old, her parents bought her “the dollhouse of my dreams.” It was “old” even then, she recalled, having been built by German prisoners of war in Britain during World War II. “I played with that dollhouse every day for years.”

After she grew up and left home, her family and work responsibilities left her with little time for miniatures.

“I always dreamed that someday I would have dollhouses again,” she said. In 2015, that day came.

One of the first things she did in retirement was have her childhood dollhouse restored at Happily Ever After in Ashburn, Va.

“I had so much fun furnishing that house with a mixture of its original furniture and new things I found. I was amazed at the quantity and quality of miniatures available today. One thing led to another, and soon my dollhouses had no more room for furniture and my real house had no more room for dollhouses!”

Today, Cooper said, she enjoys creating all facets of miniature creation, from making miniature linens to hand-finishing and antiquing the wood of miniature cabinetry, and creating and finding tiny accessories to go in them to complete the themes she’s working on.

“I thought starting Darling Displays would be a great way to keep creating and to share what I love with others. I still love miniatures today as much as I did when I was a little girl.”

Members of the public can meet Ann Cooper and perhaps bring home one of her creations or purchase them for special gifts. Fresh seasonal cakes, cookies, Rice’s special hot apple cider, coffee, and wine and cheese, will be served.

The artist’s miniature displays will light up three rooms of the new Ellen Rice Studio, Gallery & Learning Center, located at 30370 Cedar Neck Road, Ocean View. The studio is just past Big Fish Grill, on the left. A photograph of the studio’s exterior and live Google directions are available on the contact page of Rice’s website, at

For more information, call (302) 539-3405, during regular open hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.