I LOVE KITS.
There's always a thrilling frisson of anticipation when I buy one, and I have a definite ritual which I undergo with each one.
Firstly the packaging must be caressed and explored and examined from all angles. I often deny myself the delight of opening the kit straight away, prolonging the pleasure for as long as possible.
When I can stand the suspense no longer, I carefully unwrap the kit, laying the contents on a workmat where they can be closely scrutinised.
However, the most important part of any kit, the Holy Grail of kitdom, is the instruction manual, and it's here that my intense ardour often cools to near frigidity. A single sheet of densely printed text is akin to a cold shower. My passion shrivels and I turn away from the recent object of my affection with a desolate sigh, knowing that our union will be unfulfilled.
It's all very well being able to produce a fantastic kit to make the best miniature in the universe, but if the instructions are dreadful then no-one other than the creator of the kit will be able to do it justice. I've made up hundreds of kits in my 25 years as a miniatures enthusiast. Some were wonderful, some were downright diabolical.
So when I first starting producing kits of my own miniatures, 20 or so years ago, I spent many weeks writing, editing, honing, polishing my written instructions. Sometimes several times over. Then I'd give the kit to someone who had no experience of miniatures and ask them to make it up, then give me honest feedback on what they thought of it.
This is often a soul-destroying process. Criticism is to self confidence, what a large hammer is to a much-hated vase, given as a wedding present by an ex-husband's former girlfriend.
However, what writers of kit instructions often forget, is that although THEY know what they're talking about, the reader might have absolutely no idea. Hence the line "turn the sleeve, tuck in raw edges and stitch in place" might as well be written in Swahili for all the sense it makes to the uninitiated novice.
So, what makes a good miniatures kit?
- An original idea, perfectly executed and transformed into its component parts to make an easy to assemble kit, which will almost exactly replicate the original item.
- High quality components, cut to size or shape, or otherwise in 'ready to use' condition which require the minimum of alteration.
- Clearly labelled contents
- Comprehensive illustrated step-by-step instructions which explain each stage of construction clearly and concisely.
- Good quality photo of what the finished item should look like.
Which brings me to the subject of our own Tower House Dolls kits. I'd like to think that we apply all of the above criteria to our range of kits.
All of them undergo many weeks of preparation and thorough testing. We offer full email support for any questions which may arise during their assembly, and will also replace components/materials if required.
We currently have kits to make the following miniature toys and dolls, many of which are available in a choice of colours:
- Vintage Bridal Doll Kit
- Toy Doll in Fur-Trimmed Caped Jacket and Dress
- Toy Doll in Pleated Silk Dress & Bonnet
- Jumeau Style Toy Doll Kits
- Tiny Toy Baby Doll Kit
- Vintage Menagerie Pullalong Toy Kit
- Miniature Wicker Kits
- Marotte Toy Kits
I'm also working on a new kit, which will only be available in the run-up to Christmas and which will be accompanied by an interactive workshop session in a fully-featured virtual classroom. Places will be limited and registration for the class will open at the beginning of next month.
Even more exciting is the fact that from today (5 Sept) through till 9 September, you can get 15% OFF any of our range of kits subject to a minimum order value of £10 or more. Just enter the following code during the checkout process and the discount will be applied automatically.
As ever, if you need any further information or advice on any of our miniatures, please do contact me.