Why The House of Miniatures?
Hello. My name is Colin Michael. It’s no mystery that I, like many of you, love the miniatures kits produced by X-Acto™ The House of Miniatures (THoM) from 1976 to 1998. But why do these little, wooden puzzle pieces entice and delight so many of us?
Let me share my story, then I’ll look forward to hearing yours.
In 1977 I was 14 years old and my home was in turmoil, but I was having the time of my life. My mother had recently left her second husband. My grandmother had joined us in renting a home that fall. Gram and I were great friends. We often explored old houses or went to miniatures shows or to rock collecting meets on the weekends. She would be at home on weekends while my mom was making her way in her new career of “mixology”, otherwise known as tending bar. Weekends became mini time.
In the spring of ‘77 I had made a dollhouse for my baby sister in wood shop. My grandmother and I were working on finishing it with things we picked up at shows. We didn’t have much of a budget. She hooked a tiny rug, seen in the lower right of the picture above, and made decorations. I read through the miniatures magazines and dreamed up ideas for the outside of the house.
Kits to the Rescue
That’s when The House of Miniatures ads for kits by mail caught my eye. All it took was One Dollar to get that first kit, a chest-on-chest dresser that I built myself! I loved building model cars and had learned about clamps and glue in wood shop. I was ready to fill that house with colonial furniture like I saw in the old houses of New England and in my mother’s Colonial Homes magazines.
We received and built several kits before the money ran out. Soon the fun times ran out, too, as my mother patched things up with her husband. He moved in and my grandmother moved into her own apartment. Soon we were moving, too. By early 1980 I put the dollhouse in the garage. I started working as well as going to school, and after I turned 17 I found many new interests.
Many Years Later…
It was many years before I rediscovered miniatures as a hobby. My youngest daughter loved log cabins and I found a log cabin dollhouse and some furniture kits at a flea market in November of 2004. I gave her the house for Christmas and set about building the rustic kitchen kit from Realife. They were okay, but nothing like the quality of THoM kits.
I mentioned to my wife that I had built better kits when I was a teenager. She reminded me that there was some dollhouse stuff in her boxes of craft supplies. My older daughter received them when my mother passed away. We looked, and sure enough, my old The House of Miniatures kits were in there. We also found the rug my grandmother made and some other odds and ends.
Back in the Game
That started me back in the miniatures hobby. I built kits, built some houses, and built web sites. Life is funny, full of circles, laced with scraps of memories that cross generations.
A few years later I was looking to acquire more THoM kits. I had a hard time finding information on them, even though the kits were very popular on eBay. So I decided to collect kits, gather information, and to contact Houseworks to find out what had happened to The House of Miniatures™. They told me that once the subscription model had played out they gave up the manufacture of kits. They sold out their supply through their sister company, Hobby Builders’ Supply.
In 2006, I asked permission to use the the THoM logo and pictures of the products on an informational web site. They were very supportive. So, since 2007, I have been building kits and building the THoM informational web site. The building hobby is a great joy and the informational web site is a labor of love. This blog is another way for me to give back to the miniatures hobby. With the ideas and tips and reviews gathered here, I hope you will be encouraged to build kits, build a hobby, and build a heritage in miniature.
Now it is your turn. I want to hear from you. What do you like here? What’s missing? What do you use most? You can contact me directly by email, leave a comment on any of the articles here, or join the discussion on the THoM Facebook page. I look forward to getting to know you.
But first, how about a free gift? Would you like a 7-Page Collector Checklist of every kit (and all of the official products) offered by The House of Miniatures™? If you go to this link –> Collector Checklist you can sign up for my free, weekly newsletter and get the checklist as my gift.
This article does not allow comments, but there is a blog post with this same content and comments and stories are always welcome on the THoM Facebook page.