We were in Carlisle this past weekend, so I decided to squeeze in a trip to the World in Miniature Museum at the same time. Located in the basement of a vast out-of-town garden centre it is an unlikely spot for a museum, nevertheless it is a fantastic collection featuring the work of come of the best contemporary miniature artisans around. Aside from an extensive collection of miniature needlework, the collection is arranged as a series of roomboxes covering all sorts of themes and time periods, from Rembrant's Gallery to a Victorian greengrocers. Predictably, I enjoyed the Hogwarts Tower and the Medieval timber framed hall featuring exquisite furniture by David Hurley most of all! There was also an Arts & Crafts living room which, while more Edwardian than pure Arts and Crafts, had some interesting pieces of furniture.
There is also a small Dolls House Emporium concession on site. It was such a contrast comparing the high quality museum pieces and the items in the shop. I know obviously we are talking about things at opposite ends of the scale, but I think there is no excuse for the lack of quality control in the DHE goods. They're cheap yes, but not that cheap! My husband is an industrial modelmaker by training and knows exactly what goes into the making of these things, and really there is no need for wonky sculpts and the splodgy paint jobs. And why on earth does all the furniture have to be covered in that nasty glossy varnish?! The scales also seem wrong on many things.
I know miniatures can be an expensive hobby, but at the end of the day I would far rather support the work of artists and buy their lovingly handmade pieces, than waste my money on cheap factory imports - even if it means buying fewer things and building my collection up over time. Alternatively, I try to make things I either cannot find elsewhere or can't otherwise afford. I know that not everyone considers themselves crafty and creative, but who knows what hidden talents lie unless you try? There are some brilliant books and tutorials out there with instructions to make just about everything, suitable for beginners to seasoned miniaturists.