Kim's Reviews

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    Nutshell News

Dollhouse Miniatures (aka "Nutshell News") is an American miniature magazine for collectors and creators of minis.

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Miniature Collector

Miniature Collector is put out by Scott's Publications eight times a year. This is an upscale magazine, with very high quality pictures and well written articles. It concentrates on the collector and their collections, show schedules, an auction report and some FYI type columns with historical information. It is a crafter's wasteland, however. Apart from the occasional cut out or token project, there is not much in MC to keep the average crafter occupied. MC was my first mini magazine, but I quit receiving it when it became apparent that I was mostly looking at the pretty pictures (and never went back to look at past articles). Barring this, it can be a source of some wonderful ideas and inspirations, and to some this might be all they really need.

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Kit of the Month Club by Houseworks

A clever business move on Houseworks part. Offer a fairly high quality kit per month (of their choosing) for a reasonable price, plus some nice perks (money saving coupons, monthly specials and membership pricing on other miniature items), and people will love you. I have been participating in this club for about two years or so, and have valued theses kits over any others I have purchased. The kits are fairly easy to assemble, and when finished properly are very nice additions to most settings.  There is no set amount of kits to buy, you can cancel at anytime. If a piece does not serve your purpose, you can send it back and they credit your account or replace the item. If a part is broken (your fault or theirs), they will replace it at no extra charge. The introductory kit comes with stain, varnish and an antiquing gel. If you are a beginner, these are an excellent way to hone your skills...the kits start out fairly simple, and increase in complexity.

As for the downside of this deal? If you do want any other style other than "American Period Furniture" or "Federal" you are out of luck. They have some Victorian kits, but no word if they will one day soon become a kit program. Also, the finishing kit that comes with it is high quality but tends to dry out very quickly. A replacement kit isn't that expensive, but it does take a few weeks to arrive. I would recommend a trip to a local hardware store instead. This way you can pick out the colors you want, and if you have problems with harsh solvents you can choose something water based instead. The snail mail can also be frustrating if you are waiting for a replacement part or kit. Also, there are only a certain number of kits in the club...repeats are inevitable. It is a good idea to keep a written record of kits received, so if you find that a new shipment "looks familiar", you will not have to mount an intensive search through your hobby room. Right now, Houseworks operates its club by "surprise", i.e. you do not know what kit you will receive in any given month. It would be better if Houseworks were to give its club members a schedule of kits over a twelve month period at a time. This way if you do not like a certain piece of furniture, it might be possible to have a substitution made before they send it.

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Doll's House Needlecrafts by Venus Dodge

Doll's House Needlecrafts is a how-to needlecraft book written/compiled by Venus Dodge, published by David and Charles, ISBN 0-7153-0169-1. It has over 250 projects with varying degrees of complexity, and includes sections on Knitting, Crochet, Needlepoint, Embroidery, Quilting, Soft furnishings, Dressmaking, Furniture and Upholstery, Crafts and Accessories. All photographs in DHN are in full color, and all pattern diagrams are full size. Some historical information is included as well. I have made a few things from DHN, and have found the instructions clear and easy to follow.This is one of the best miniature How-to books I have ever seen, and plan to use it a lot. The only problem that some people may have with it is that since this book is an English publication, some directions for crochet are a little different from what North Americans are used to. The author, however, has included a section for abbreviations and a UK to US crochet chart. You are on your own for hook conversions, however (there is no universal system of assigning size designations to hooks...UK is different from US is different from Canada ). When I have a problem knowing which size to use, I call the local yarn shop, and the owner can usually help. Secondly, some projects are displayed in collections, but others only appear in the many dioramas that are included in the book. The dioramas are nice, but I would have liked more of the head-on views that the collections offered as I like to see how I am progressing. The book is on the pricey side, about $40 Canadian, but in my opinion a very good buy .

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