South Charlotte

Couple fills quality time with miniature art projects

Rollin and Mckenzie Hansen work together, play together and have been happily married for 36 years.

Rollin, born in Albert Lea, Minn., moved to California after graduating from Dunwoody Technical College in Minneapolis. Mckenzie, originally from Oklahoma and already living in the Bay Area, was introduced to Rollin through his niece. They hit it off and their journey began.

In 1976, the Hansens moved to Minneapolis. Rollin began working for FreemanWhite, an architectural firm. Mckenzie dove into motherhood, raising and home schooling their son and daughter.

In 2004, Rollin was transferred to Charlotte. He was sent to southern India for an eight-month training program.

"Mckenzie went with me. It was a wonderful experience," Rollin said. "We adopted the traditional garb and some customs of the locals. We loved the food and even learned to eat with our hands like they did."

The Hansens traveled to India a few weeks every year until 2010, when Freeman White closed the office in India.

"The economy affected my job, too, and I was laid off a year ago," Rollin said. Not one to sit around with idle hands, Rollin focused much of his time on the miniatures he had been working on as a hobby since 1980.

"Our daughter was 3," Rollin said, "and I wanted to build a dollhouse for her. That's when my interest with miniatures began." Rollin and Mckenzie have a lot of the necessary equipment for creating and building in their home workshop. The couple focuses on being creative and authentic. Everything is built to scale.

Self-taught, they have put in a lot of time researching information needed for whatever project they are working on.

"We laugh, watch TV, listen to music and talk while working on our projects," Mckenzie said. "We enjoy being together."

The couple travels to various competitive shows to display their work. At a competition in 2006, for example, they won first place in the residential category, out of about 80 entrants. In 2009, they entered in six categories and took six ribbons, including the coveted "Best in Show" for their "House Fronts of the Seasons."

Their "Enchanted Village" was in the Southern Christmas Show.

The Hansens displayed their handicraft at this year's ChristmasVille in Rock Hill, held Dec. 1-4.

Anyone interested in getting involved with miniatures can find the Hansens' group, Miniature Mentors of South Charlotte, on Facebook.

"I also dabble in genealogy," said Rollin.

He discovered his family came from England and settled in Minnesota in the 1850s.

"I grew up on one of the original family homesteads," Rollin said. "It's exciting to learn about where your ancestors came from."

Rollin works on getting a job every day.

"I spend some amount of hours each day looking for a new job. With my experience and architectural training, I didn't think it would take this long," he said. "But I am happy to be spending quality time with my family."