Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Storing Electrical and Landscaping Update

In my last post, I shared how I was moving my supplies to the photo boxes. I had been using them for awhile for project boxes. But as I rearranged different things, I really liked using these boxes because they fit together in the shelves I have. The reason is their uniform size. 

Electrical Supplies
Previously I had stored my electrical items in two small cabinet drawers and in my last post I shared that I had moved them to a photo-box. Well, I was fine with that although I didn't have that much stuff so the photo-box was overkill. Then I ran across a small pizza box that I had received a kit in. This box was one I couldn't part with (probably because I save things I think can still be useful for organizing) so I decided the electrical items could go here.

Now in thinking about this (using a pizza box) - it doesn't fit the same as the photo-boxes, but then I have other boxes in my supplies section that don't as well (zip bag storage box and the fishing tackle boxes). Another reason I was willing to move the electrical to a smaller box is, I am not likely to outgrow this box as I don't add to that supply except when I really need something that is generally specific to a project. I did feel the need to somehow divide up the open area. I used a checkbox lid, a jewelry box lid and then two plastic containers. (More about the plastic containers below).

During this move, I also took the time to see what I have and whether I wanted to purge any of it. I did choose to purge some items including some were for 1/12th scale and not LED's. I added the scale items to my donate to NAME box and the other will just go in the regular donate box. 


Landscaping Supplies
In August, we went camping and I had my son empty the landscaping three drawer cart. I have done this in the past. See how I use these for camping here. I empty each drawer into a plastic grocery sack and then when we come back they go back in the drawers. Those bags hung around for a few weeks and then it was a question: do I bring the 3 drawer cart back in and keep using it, or do I move landscaping supplies to the photo-boxes? This was a debate I had been having for a couple of months. Since the supplies were already out of the cart, I figured it was time to use the photo boxes. 

Going through these to make them fit into the photo-boxes was a good process. 
  • I took the time to combine some smaller bags into larger bags where the product was the same. 
  • Some of these were due to have purchased at several different times the same product. Or due to it came in a kit. 
  • Also I had bags made up to sell or swap and then didn't. 
  • A couple even had product in that because the bag was printed with a picture, I couldn't really tell what was in it. So I switched this to a completely clear bag. 
  • Some items were in big bags and so those were moved to smaller bags.
  • Another thing I did was to review these for scale. I still had some items that were really for larger scale than 1:48 or smaller. Since my focus is 1:48, I felt it would be better to donate these. 
  • Also I had some dried items that were larger that I gave to my daughter for her projects. 

The result of this organizing and culling was the use of 4 photo-boxes for landscaping organized/separated/sorted by color. 

Plastic Supplies
In my last post, I shared how I sorted some plastic bits to make things with. But I also had a drawer of plastic containers. 

When I was swapping often, I needed to have something to package them in. When I get the swaps back, I receive a variety of packaging. I save most of them to have on hand to package the next time. Plus anything else that was plastic but not really small.
This has all been stored in a drawer of my tall drawer cart. 
The 4th drawer down had these plastic items in it.

In the process of the landscaping organizing, I had to get into this drawer and I decided it was time to go thru these items. I had some packaging from my last swap that needed to be stored. So I emptied the drawer and began by putting like items together. 

The results was two boxes and better visibility of the items I have. Items that were plastic but not containers, I put them were they are to be used. These were some plastic plates and their purpose was for painting palates. 
At first glance this may look like a jumble and hardly better than I had before. But this is organized like items together. It also reminded me of what items I had that could be used for organizing, not just swaps or painting palettes. Consequently I used two of the rectangle boxes in the upper left corner in the electrical box. These little boxes have locking handles (blue).  It's a bit of overkill for most of my items and they are super neat, so hadn't been able to find a place for them. But for the electrical items this was great.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Storage options - cabinet vs enclosed boxes

 I am continuing my re-organization of my studio...

Storage options - cabinet vs enclosed boxes

First let me say that I use what I have as much as I can. I also try to make something work, but as I have said numerous times on this blog, its ok to re-evaluate your solutions.

One evaluation I had most recently was to decide that the metal and plastic cabinets have issues I was no longer willing to deal with. These were made for use in a garage environment so concern about dust was probably not considered at all. But for a crafter, dust is an enemy and to be avoided if possible. One way to deal with it I was already doing was just being selective in what I was storing in these cabinets. But when I evaluate what I was storing in them and how it was causing me to divide where I store things, so I was forgetting what I had; I felt I wanted to think of getting rid of them. Not because they don't work at all but just I can find other ways to store items. 


There were three metal tall cabinets and two shorter, wider ones. The tall ones I really used and the shorter ones I didn't. The main reason I didn't was because I couldn't get to them. Mostly I didn't use them because I didn't ever get around to finding just the right items to store in them because they were hard to get to.
Mounting them to the wall was an option but one I wasn't willing to do. These cabinets didn't fit too well in the black shelves and I wasn't prepared to move them to the white ones either. Once I decided to get rid of my desk and move the black shelves I also decided to get rid of the storage drawer cabinets.  But what to do with the items actually stored in these cabinets?

My solution was to purchase more photo boxes. In 2016, I decided that for my project boxes stored in shoe boxes I would replace with photo boxes. I planned that I would do this over time by buying only when they were on sale. I had done so, but used this as  time to buy more. There is nothing wrong with shoe boxes. But the photo boxes provide consistent sizes and that is what led me in that direction. 

I decided that I would also use the photo boxes for storing supplies as well. 
  • Ribbon/Trim - keeping the bags I had in the big bin, the only change was to have them 'filed'. But it did take two photo boxes to store all of it. I love being able to quickly find the color I am looking for without having to dig in the big bin. Another thing I did was to give up on the case binder. I really loved the case binders I have but I don't have enough of the pocket pages to fill up. I re-purposed it to another task.

  • Flower making - I'm not totally happy with this box, but for now the items from the storage cabinets are moved inot one photo box. I plan to get these 'filed' as well.
  • Kits - rearranging things from my tall plastic drawer cart to the photo boxes, I split them into Furniture and Misc. and I 'filed' them using the dividers that came in the photo boxes.
  • Electrical - got it's own photo box. I think I may use some smaller boxes inside to help organize this as it is a mass jumble. Another solution I may consider would be the plastic divided boxes.

Meanwhile...


I visited the thrift store and found 6 divided boxes - these are the plastic fishing tackle type things. I've used some for years for my swaps
For the swaps, I had significantly reduced what needed to be stored by making and furnishing my Swaps Mall. So my first step with the divided boxes was to consolidate swaps into fewer divided boxes. 


I even pulled other items like my resin rabbit collection into these. They were previously stored in the drawer cabinet so they needed a new home. Now they are altogether waiting for a new home in a mini project.
Another step was to use only the smaller fixed section boxes for swaps (I have gotten these used at thrift stores, but usually get them from the local craft dept store) and use the ones with flexible divided sections for supplies. 
  • Wood strips and bits - all my wood except some wider pieces are now sorted into 3 divided boxes. Yes, 3 because I had them available and also because I had that many scraps in assorted places. I now have wood in 3 places, these boxes, a drawer for larger flat pieces and a large cardboard box for the remaining long pieces. 
  • Pencils and pens - these were in the cabinets and needed a new home. A divided box worked and a second smaller box for my permanent markers.
  • Glitter and sequins - spent a couple of evenings sorting my sequins by color. I know silly, but therapeutic for me. I just love color but prefer it to be organized. The sorting paid off later when I just needed silver and could go quickly to the silver section.
  • Plastic bits - I previously had most of all this in a shoe box size cardboard drawer. But this way I can find things easier. Larger bits (that I am less likely to use for smaller scales) are still in the cardboard drawer.
  • Screws and such - I previously had two drawers in the storage cabinet. Oh and various other spots around. So I consolidated it all into one single divided box. This one was an odd ball compared to the others.
  • Previously, I had a divided box of doors and windows for 1:48 scale but added a second one for other building components. Mostly I spread out the stash into two boxes because I had them, but I also found some of these stored somewhere else so now everything is together.
Moving all this around I freed up some other boxes and wanted to find places for more things.
  • Tape - it is in a plastic shoebox. (shown above)
  • Clay - these was moved from the plastic shoe box I just mentioned into a 3 section snap together box. This way all the clay and tools are together.
  • Kid art - I keep on hand some kid friendly art items like markers, scissors and glue. These all are in an additional snap together set box.
  • Small boxes - literally little boxes. I keep these from when I unpack my swaps or other purchases. These then are used when I need to ship something or for the clear ones I will use for display.
  • Stamps - I can't seem to part with these (or these pink boxes), a leftover from other crafts. These could easily go in a photo box instead.
  • Punches - these needed to move from the cabinet drawers and have found a new home
  • Glue and bulky paint - these, for now, are on the bottom two shelves of a black bookcase. I still need to decide if this will be their official home. Can also see the stuff stored in the corner. I left a gap between the book shelf and the wall just for the storage of large flat things.
  • Paint bottles - I have been collecting small mail boxes to use to separate by color. I like this better than the bigger bins I had, but I wish they were deeper to fit the depth of the shelf.
  • Scissors - the fancy kind and my handle hole punches - these all fit in the top of the medium rack tool box (see below)
  • Tools - the extra tools I had stored in the drawer cabinets needed a new home. I finally succumbed and purchased the medium size tool rack system. I decided on the medium size because I felt the larger one was too big, especially since I had the smaller one to hold most of my regular use tools already. I got this one from Michael's with a coupon. I choose to elevate the small one to fill room on the shelf. I do tend to leave my tools out and so the two bins below make for quick clean up. The little shelf was a thrift store find. I also added a piece of foam-board under the toolbox so support the front cover that is sticking out. This is so a divided box has something to sit on. The medium rack box has the front cover removed. These are easy to remove or take off. The shelf above was left that far up to allow the top portion lid to be opened. All my tools including a small hammer (except rulers) are in these two boxes.

That's all for now.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Using top of cabinets with uneven surface

Enhance tops of cabinets and other furniture for using the top to display or store items
I have a vaulted ceiling and in my living room my entertainment unit and kitchen cabinets are places that I store or display things. The way the unit and cabinets are built they have molding at the top.

Problem: Items set on top of the unit are partially hidden by the molding. Or there is an uneven surface.

It was a couple of years ago, that it dawned on me how to best deal with this. Previously I was using other objects like plastic trays upside down or tins to use as risers so the items weren't hidden by the molding. 

Solution: Add one or two layers of construction foam to level the top.
One layer can be pieces.
Top layer can be solid or pieced together. 
These pics are from my kitchen cabinets. Before I was limited about where I could place things both by the cabinet sides that stuck up and by the molding in front. From the angle of these pics the molding isn't obvious that it blocks the view.
On my cabinets I only added one layer and where I had the pieces to fit as one, I used one. But where I ran out of large pieces or had smaller areas to fill, I used pieces together.

In the 'new to me' cabinets in my studio, I did the same thing. However, I used two layers because of the way they are constructed. I used odd pieces to fit the lower portion - not filling the area, but providing support. The top layer was also pieces, but fit together sort like a puzzle. Once I had them arranged I taped them. I used pieces so as to use what scraps I had on hand rather than buying a new sheet. 
Before I added the foam layers, I would not likely placed anything on top. This way I can display miniatures that typically I rotate to other locations throughout the year. One on left is summer and one on right is winter.
I would not recommend placing anything high like this without a cover. (that pumkin doesn't, but cobwebs could be ok on it. The other project in lower left corner is in a case, just can't see it.)

It doesn't have to be display - it could be storage boxes. But the filling of the area so it is flat would make it easier to retrieve items. I guess it all depends on whether want to use a step stool or not and have to lift them out of the 'hole' they would be sitting in.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Cottontail Cottage Studio Desk Update

Studio Update and solution considerations drawer cabinets vs enclosed options


Last fall I decided to remove my artist easel type desk.
Before
The desk was frequently covered with stuff to the point that I was forced to use a folding card table or tv tray to work on. Because there were cabinets on the top of the desk (more on those later) I also couldn't use the easel aspect even if I wanted to. Rarely was this ever an issue. The biggest issue was the height of the desk. I am short and I like my feet on the floor so this means that I really need a lower work surface.
Removing the desk meant I had to come up with another way to hold some of the cabinets, etc. My solution was to move one of the black book shelves to where this desk had been.
I only moved the desk into the dining room as I figured it might go back to my room sooner than later.
Before
I also moved the three plastic drawer carts together. However I got to thinking that it might be nice to have the desk available for cutting things on or whatever. This desk is designed to pivot up so that it can be like an easel. My idea was to have it so that the pivot could lift the top up and out of the way. So we moved it back in the room where the book shelf I had moved was. (Basically at this point these two large items swapped places.)
The desk with the top down would block the door to the closet but since it could be lifted up and out of the way, it would still work in the corner and not block the door then. The ability to lift it out of the way was because we turned the desk around so that the pivot was at the wall side not the front. So it still can't be used as an easel. Again this isn't a problem.

More Shelves
About this same time my hubby had started selling on eBay. This desk would then be available to him as well for packing/shipping and also to photograph the items. But he needed a place to store his items. We visited a local thrift store to find some shelves. We got really lucky that we found just what we were looking for and more, at half price even. For him we found a metal shelf and for me two tower units.
Here's his ebay shelf (btw - if you see anything of interest here - email me, a lot of this hasn't been listed yet and I will practically give it away).

The desk moved over from previously in front of the closet to under the window.
I can still use the desk for cutting and also we leave up the photo booth. Although I have been trying to keep the boxes put away. 

In order to place the two tower units in the studio room, I needed to move the second black book shelf next to the first one I had just moved. 
Before
It was something I had considered doing when I was considering removing the desk and moving the first book shelf, even before I got these two new units.

I believe these units were part of an entertainment center. The top shelves do not adjust but do have lights in them. The other shelves do adjust using the peg system. I believe that one of them may have had a door as there is extra wood pieces and trim that a door likely hung from and fitted against. It would have been nice to have the door, but I am pleased with them without it.
These two units give me both display shelves and a place for my scrapbook supplies.  They were previously in a couple of shelves of the just moved black bookshelf. These units also have doors at the bottom. Since I was going to keep the bike here, I decided that what went in the cabinets must be items I don't access as often. Examples are extra display boxes and some large tools (small table saw) that may or may not stay here.
Here is the two tower units And yes, the bike does can be used there  - but it is easy to pull it out for more elbow room.
It isn't obvious in this pic, but to get the two tower units in this corner I had to slide the white shelves over a few inches.
After several months of working on this, I am finally ready to share more photos of where I am with the other portions of the room. No, the room isn't picture perfect, but hey this is how I really work in here.
You can see in this pic that I still have piles of things to sort thru, but I have made progress as there are fewer piles and misc boxes.
This one shows both the first black shelf new location and the folding table I am using as my desk. Plus can see the corner. I left a gap for storing tall things like foam sheets in the corner.
That was an interim pic that I was going to post weeks ago, but have moved on to this.
The main difference is moving some of the new divided boxes and other supply boxes lower so I can reach while sitting.
I have refined that placement of boxes and decided that I will have display area on that second shelf that is nearly empty right now. I would like to purchase an extra shelf (piece of wood I would paint black) to go in the other other shelf unit (one on the right). Then my photo boxes won't be stacked as high.
The boxes in the black shelves - most of them are the photo storage boxes that I purchased when the hobby stores run a sale. I actually have some leftover. I guess I need more projects to put in them. Or I could get busy doing more sorting of the remaining areas. LOL.

On top of the folding table is a folding bed table. I got this at a thrift store as well. I so rarely ever used it in my bed, that I tried it on my folding table/desk. I really like that I have the additional space which more than makes up for the loss of the easel desk.

One advantage that I have by using the folding table is that I can easily slide it over to allow a bed roll on the floor (for guests). Or if I needed to it can be cleared off and put away.
This shows behind the door and where the other drawer cart ended up. I did clean out the other one and gave it away to my daughter (they both used to be under my second folding table that was always piled up). The items that was in that cart are now in the black shelves near the bottom. Items that were there, were moved into the cabinets of the two tower units. In this case, items I used less often were stored away behind a door and items used more often left out.

As one can see, my studio is ever changing - for a number of reasons. I still have some work to do for this round of re-org, but I am much happier that my stuff is not as likely to get dusty being in boxes. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Tablet vs laptop

I recently blogged about my new laptop. It is a 2 in 1. It's a tablet and laptop.
I have wanted a Surface for a while, but I just couldn't justify the price. I also knew I would want to have a keyboard. My son bought him one over a year ago and I played with it, but again knew that it wasn't in my price range.
Now that I have had this 2 in 1 for a few months, I felt it was appropriate to share some thoughts about...
          Tablets vs Laptops

I know there are many articles out there for us to read about the comparison, but this is my thoughts as a miniaturist.
I use my computer to read email. I do more than read, I reply and so I want a real keyboard. The on screen ones are a pain.
I use it to deal with pictures. I use a mouse most of this time.
Browsing the internet - I use both the touch screen and also the mouse. It depends on the website.
Watching video - I want the easel, but I can do without the keyboard.
I do occasionally read books on it.
I do use chatrooms and it is possible to that with an onscreen keyboard, but I find it to be slow and so much prefer my keyboard.

Since this works like a tablet I believe that I can safely tell you that I would not be satisfied with just a tablet. Two years ago I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I called it a phablet. I said it was my tablet substitute. But not really as tablets are larger. The Note 4 is a large phone but nowadays most are very close to the same size. Two years later I am still very pleased with that purchase.

I do use my 2 in 1 as a flat tablet on occasion, but more often I am using it on an easel fold. The keyboard doesn't separate and I am fine with that. If all I ever did on it was to read or watch video, it might be ok to just have a tablet. But I find that if I doing anything that is active - typing or scrolling, I prefer the mouse. I prefer a keyboard on the lap with the screen at a 90 degree or slightly larger angle.

In conclusion - I am very satisfied with my 2 in 1 touchscreen laptop that allows me to position the screen at many angles including flat. I would not buy a tablet unless I just wanted a dedicated reader.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Flat item storage - rugs for miniatures Update

Keeping with the same idea I had before for rugs and wall hangings for miniatures, I am just repurposing a different solution.
First this is where they were before
The large 8.5x11 size page was sort of floppy when I get a rug out. I felt it would be easier to get to a particular rug with a smaller but same type of solution.
This is a regular three ring binder.

Next this is the solution I am repurposing
It is a case binder meaning the outer edge is enclosed like a box.
All the ribbon and trim were removed and I cut business card size paper to fit.

Next was filling the pockets with the rugs.
To adhere them I used temporary tape. This worked quite well so I stuck with it. The only issue seemed to be when I was working on with certain rugs. Some just didn't stick well, but at least they will stay in a smaller pocket much nicer than the larger sheet.
I am choosing to only use the side of the page that has the openings. It just makes them easier to get to. But if I didn't have enough pages, I would double up on the pockets to use the back side as well. I think I would use two pieces of backing so that I can slide out just the back for front.

I had a just a couple that wouldn't fit in these pockets so I think I will consider buying some other size pockets. A thrift store may have what I am looking for - think photo album for 3x5 or 4x6 photos. Or even a 5x7 would be good.
If I focused on larger miniatures like 1:24 or 1:12 scale - then I would need the larger pockets and the 8.5x11 sheet size would probably just fine.

Ribbon and Trim - update

I did it. I finally made the move to pull the ribbon and trim from the binder in with the baggies. As I mentioned in a prior post just recently I was thinking about doing this. I am really glad I did.
The ribbon and trim was in this binder

It was a great solution - just not cost effective for the volume of ribbon and trim I have collected. The biggest portion of what I have I got at a garage sale of another miniaturist who had passed on.

But I didn't toss out the binder - I will use that later for something else. I already have something in mind.

The photo boxes storage was holding all the baggies including the added in bits, but it was getting really tight.
I decided to go with two photo boxes.

This just gives me space to move the baggies to look at colors.
I already have decided to add more dividers, but since these were cut by me, I haven't gotten around to that part yet. Anything previously combined, I will just turn the card around and write the new label on it.