Miniature of the Month
Kentucky Derby Rose Garland by Linda Young
These four items are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby. The garland of roses by Linda Young, Derby trophy by Pete Acquisto who also made the mint julep cups and hat by unknown maker.
In Kentucky, the month of May means one thing: the Kentucky Derby. And you don’t have to be a race fan or even an equestrian lover to celebrate it here in the commonwealth. Held on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, the legendary “Run for the Roses” is a world phenomenon that brings out fancy hats and mint juleps for all to enjoy. For Florida miniaturist Linda Young, it also blossomed into an opportunity to showcase her talent for creating 1/12-scale roses—564 roses to be exact.
The Kentucky Horse Farm Library was originally a study created by Ray Whitledge. It was embellished to reflect a Derby winner’s library. The rose garland lies in front of the room box.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day I would be commissioned to fabricate the famous rose garland in miniature,” explains Linda, who had been a Derby fan for years. The project actually happened quite by accident in 2010 when the Kentucky Horse Park was chosen to host the World Equestrian Games. State tourism officials knew that the KSB Miniatures Collection had a room box depicting a Kentucky horse farm library and asked if they could display it at the games. After determining a half million people would be visiting the event, the decision was made to embellish the scene with items specific to the Derby leading to the commissions of the garland, trophy and mint julep cups.
Pete Acquisto meticulously hand carved several aspects of the trophy using sterling silver and 24K gold gilt.
In her research, Linda consulted with the floral designers who craft the real-size rose blanket and found that 564 roses of a specific color were used to create it along with a very precise type of greenery and ribbon. After buying herself a dozen Freedom roses, the variety used for the Derby garland, she matched color and spent three months perfecting her technique.
“My biggest challenge in designing this garland was to be able to make a rose the perfect size so that when 564 roses were adhered to my fabric, along with the outline of greenery, the finished product would measure a little less than 2 inches wide and 11 inches long,” she says. It took her three tries of petal sizes and “a lot of experimenting” on how tightly to wrap the roses before she found the perfect procedure.
The ribbon would pose another challenge for Linda, but not one that couldn’t be solved with a road trip. The fabric used for the garland has a faint diamond design that had to be in scale, so Linda turned to fellow miniaturist Alice Zinn. “I jumped in my motorhome and drove across Florida to Alice’s and we got to work printing that diamond pattern on silk until we got the right color and the right size.” All the experimenting, hard work and driving miles paid off as the finished product was quite the hit at the World Equestrian Games featured in the room box with Pete Acquisto’s replica of the gold trophy and tiny mint julep cups, the Derby’s signature drink.
Mint julep cups by Pete Acquisto were crafted after those used in the 1800s, which were typically 3 3/4″ tall.
Like the Derby, the Kentucky Horse Farm Library room box is a favorite of guests visiting the KSB Miniatures Collection whether they are race fans, Kentuckians, horse lovers or miniaturists. It’s a stunning tribute to not only the commonwealth’s most famous event, but a tribute to the artform of miniatures and to the artisans who dedicate so much of themselves to it. Here’s cheering you all with a frosty cold mint julep!