Sunday, March 29, 2015

Display cases review

Protecting our Creations

I am a firm believer in protecting our creations.  One of the ways to do that is to cover them in glass or plastic.  
When I first started making miniatures, I didn't worry about this.  I was naive to say the least. This was a lesson that I learned the hard way.  As I finished my projects I set them around the house.  Typically on a shelf away from kitties or kiddies.  After a few years some of my minis succumb to the dust.  Real life - my real life - doesn't include dusting every week. There were other effects from being unprotected - color change - although that wasn't as obvious as the dust.
Recently I purchased some additional covers.  I wanted them because I had projects that I never bought covers for and I was displaying them in a public setting so wanted the protection from stray fingers. 
Because I know that it is important to cover and protect and also that I don't have a lot of funds to spend on miniatures period, I am always looking for good solutions at good prices.  

Glass domes

Typically, my local Michael's and Hobby Lobby have two sizes available: 8x12 and 4x8. These two sizes are good, but often I want something shorter than 12 but wider than 4.  My recent purchase was via Amazon. I found a 8x8 dome and base for what I considered a good price.  One thing that I have experienced with domes is that they can be too thin or too thick.  This recent purchase is too thick.  But I will use it.  It isn't as if I can identify that before ordering. If they are too thin, then they break more easily.  I broke a dome trying to open the package it was in.  Search for glass domes 8x8 or other size if looking on Amazon. You will get other sizes as well.
Other domes that I have used are cheese domes.  The disadvantage to these is the knob and how short they are. I made mine into a temporary display.  It didn't come with a base so I made one from foam core board.

Glass cases

I have a wood and glass basketball case that I got second hand.  These are the kinds that M and HL carry nowadays.  I have not really wanted these because of the big wood trim around, but since I have one now, I am not as bothered by it.  The advantage to buying at M or HL, I love using their coupons.  But I still consider them pricey.  I just have to remind myself these are an investment in my art.  
There are other types of glass cases - the seamless ones.  I don't have any of those.  Never found one that I wanted to use.  
The big disadvantage to any glass case/dome is the weight.  But the pro is that the glass is easier to clean, although glass can be scratched.
In addition to HL and M or ebay, can get these at Amazon too.

Plastic

When it comes to plastic, I have been leery of buying these.  But thanks to a product called Brillianize, I am more likely to use plastic if it fits the size I need.  This product allows one to clean the plastic and polishes it as well.  It does need to be used with a soft cloth and not something like paper towels. I got mine at Amazon as well.  I ordered Brillianize with the soft cloths.
My new favorite plastic case is a football case 11.5x7x7.  I have tried two brands with same style: UltraPro and BallQube.  I got both from Amazon at different times.  These are two U shaped pieces that fit together snugly.  Dust protection this has.  They do come in a UV version for a few more dollars and it may be worth those extra if we think about the colorfast aspect.  UV protection will delay fading.  I don't know timing so this is just a consideration.
Both of these brands in the football case have round circles on the small ends.  Don't be fooled by pics that don't show these circles as they will have them.  These are to hold a football in place.  I believe they are molded in so unlikely to be removed easily or even giving a clear view if force-ably removed by say a moto tool.  
I used this for my Nursery Rhymes project. Although these pics do not show the round thing one can see the U shaped aspect.  The round thing I worked around so that when the case is closed over the project it doesn't obstruct the view of anything.  Which just means that as I added the three blind mice, I made sure they weren't under the darn round thing.
I do recommend that one open the box immediately upon arrival.  Inspect the plastic case closely.  My first one was damaged, but it was several weeks from arrival to when I removed the plastic covering.  I took it from the cardboard, but not the thin plastic.  

A slightly smaller size - is designed for a mini football helmet 7x5x5.  I have one of each of these brands.  In this size, I am going to stick with using one from BallQube.  It is made just like the football size one - but without the round circles for the end of the football.  The UltraPro version I have has edges that flare.  Think of an H on its side that is a box.  These flares aren't a problem, just looks and style wise BallQube is my preferred style.  
One of my 1:48 houses has needed a case for awhile.  I decided that if I was willing to chop off the corners of the roof, I could get it to fit in a 4x8 dome.  But thankfully with the new BallQube mini football helmet one that chopping is unnecessary. 
My local HL also has a third style by Pioneer Plastics.  This style is two pieces.  The bottom fits up into the cover.  The cover has boxy edges.  I used one in this style that is baseball size.  At the link, you can't see it in the box, but can see the base. This is a fine cover depending on what goes in it.  This brand comes in a variety of sizes, basketball, football, baseball, mini football helmet, softball and maybe even golf ball.  Depending on the packaging some have an extra plastic base usually in black.  My local HL has them without the base in the basketball size for around $20.

I also have used 4x4x4 cubes.  These I got mine from Uline which meant I had to buy a full case. I think I have seen these at the local hobby chain stores.  They are two part compuression fit with a more typical box and lid style.  I have used these frequently for my smaller scale projects. 
There are also this similar size that are two u shaped pieces - the old style photo cube. I pick these up even if slightly scratched and use them as risers when I display things.

One size that I am searching for is 6x6.  I have two cases (5x5x5 ) that I got on clearance from HL years ago.  These are really nice cases with a wood base.  I haven't seen anything like them but could be am looking in the wrong place.  They may have been intended for softball display but would give more room than softball requires.  Works fine for me of course.
Another solution I have tried is plastic doll cases.  There are different types.  One style I tried was a molded black plastic base, flexible plastic sides (they come flat) with a molded clear plastic cover.  These have a flimsyness about them, that I have steered away from. But one advantage is that even if too tall, they can be easily cut down.  However, don't let you cats knock them over - as they can crack.  
I also recently purchased a doll/car case at my local hobby chain store 12.5x5x5.  This one is two piece compression fit as well.  The base (back for dolls) fits up into the lid.  I bought two of these at M and they hold several projects at once.  They aren't  tall laid this way, so hence having more than one project in same case.  I would be unlikely to use this as they show for dolls the long side up and down as a dome would suit my tastes better.
Another type of case to look for is ones designed for displaying cars.  These are best for one story 1:48 scale.  

Of course another option is a custom made case.  Prices vary here, so check more than one site.  I bought one about 10 years ago from a miniaturist.  Sadly that person is no longer with us, but I know there are others out there.

There are of course many other sizes and I have used some of them.  Included a compression fit 2x2x3 to make small rooms for 1:48 scale, gift display boxes - the ones with the black base is the bottom, not an extra thing.  All of these will work, it all depends on the size of the project. 

SOURCES
Other sources for cases besides the local hobby stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael's and online like Amazon or ebay are sport shops and thrift stores.  Also any place that sells collectibles might have different sizes and styles.  When it comes to thrift stores this is always hit or miss, but I have gotten some great deals this way. 

Bases can be then made from foam core board, builders foam, wood (if you have the right equipment), cake stands or candle stands.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 31 of Organizing

This has been fun sharing with the internet my ideas on organizing this month.  I certainly have shared more than ever before.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.  I will be indexing these ideas and posting it sometime in February.  
Today  I want to emphasize my ideas about organizing.

Organizing

  • Should be fun not a chore - find a way to make it fun
  • Help you feel lighter - 
  • Free you of unwanted items
  • Be about recycling or repurposing when possible
  • Is about making your life easier - not more complicated
  • Hopefully will make you more productive
  • Should lessen the time it takes to find something 
  • Give you more time to spend making minis
  • Should work for you, not about what works for me
  • Should be Categorized for the way you look for things
  • Will take time
  • May help decide what you want to focus on
  • Should be simple as possible
  • Should help keep things from becoming damaged
  • Should help keep you from being damaged as well
  • Doesn't have to be expensive
  • Doesn't have to look pretty, although that is fun.
  • Should help to keep things used most often closer at hand 
  • Should help you find things quicker
  • Should help you to want to put things away
  • May become addictive
  • May spread to other areas of your life
  • Should be easy to maintain
  • May help you to be more creative
  • Should help make room for other minis
  • Solutions can be used in more ways than one
Until I post again....
Happy Miniaturing and Miniature Organizing!
Preble

Friday, January 30, 2015

Other Stuff and Things - Day 30 of 31 Days of Organizing

I have made crafts of some sort for as long as I can remember.  My main focus is miniatures but I still consider myself a scrapbooker.  Most of my other hobbies have fallen by the wayside and I did donate many of those supplies.  But I do still have a few that linger.
Since I still consider myself a scrapbooker - although I haven't done much of anything with that in over a year, I do have a dedicated area in my studio.  This is because I have the space.
This shelving unit is where that stuff is stored.  I have added extra shelves to make things more convenient to get to those items when need them.  I do use some of the tools from scrap-booking for minis - like the pink cutter that cuts paper.  The other is the black marker binder has markers that i use as needed for either hobby.  
Before I had this studio and these extra shelves, my scrapbook stuff was stored in tubs and it was mighty inconvenient when I wanted that pink cutter.  I didn't use it enough for minis to justify buying a second one.  But I do have certain tools that I keep duplicates of so are dedicated to one hobby or the other.

Dolls
I don't make much in the way of dolls, so one box works.  There is some items in here, like ribbon, that realistically I could move to another storage location.

Crochet and Cross Stitch
Then here is another box of those related items.  My cross stitch thread is a cross over item, although maybe not as much as it used to be.  I collected quite a bit of it and so have two divided boxes nearly full of these stuff.  I have considered donating it, but not yet.
The thread boxes stack nicely under my ribbon and trim tin, so they may stay for a while longer.  They are organized by number as that is how I used them when doing cross stitching.  My dilemma with donating or selling is do I do so in the whole lot, or groups and also do I keep some colors just in case I need them for minis.

Sewing
In the black shelf unit I showed above is a smaller plastic 3 drawer container.  It has all my sewing supplies left over from when I used to sew clothes and quilt.  I have one drawer of thread and I have considered donating that as well.  

For now while I have room for these things, I see no real reason to let go of them.  But I also accept that is not necessarily a reason to keep them.  To me donating or selling is as much about someone else getting use of them as it is to rid my self of them or make a few dollars.  

Come back tomorrow for Day 31 - my final post this month on Organizing,
Preble

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Swaps - Day 29 of 31 days of organizing

Swaps and Finished item storage
When it comes to storing these, the items stored don't have to be swaps (read more about what a swap is with this link), they could be items purchased or assembled.  These are just items that don't have a home(project) to go to.  

Packaging be gone One aspect of swaps is that they generally have some extra packaging.  I decided a long time ago to discard the packaging for two reasons.  One they take up space and second they make it hard to see what you have.  It isn't just about me being able to see but also I have shown off the wonderful items I have received.  BECAUSE I THINK THEY ARE REALLY COOL.
Who made it
BUT I do record who I got the item from and what it is.  I have learned to be very descriptive in the what so later it is easier to figure how the who.  I like to give credit to the who when the what finds a home.  I do this using Access, but a spreadsheet in Excel works too.  That is what I used before I switched to Access.
Here is my swap boxes.  I call them swap boxes although they do have items I have assembled from kits and therefore not really a swap item.  
I have each end labeled so that when I put them on the shelf, I don't have to worry which way.  
These boxes are fishing tackle type divided boxes.  Some have pre-set divider sections that can insert a divider in the slot and some have non-removable dividers. My preference is the removable ones.
Organized by Theme or Room
I organize the boxes by theme or room.  The one above (an old photo) has bedroom and living room furniture in it.  If I did a specific themed swap, then I usually have those grouped together for when the project gets done.
I do not usually put these items in with the kit they might go with.  Well unless they are both specific.  For example, if I had a project box started for the themed swap,I might. Like when I did an attic swap and we got an attic kit, the attic swaps and that kit were all housed together.  But if a finished item/swap could go in different projects and haven't decided which one yet, then it goes in these general boxes.  I do that because I may end up not using in the original intended project idea.  Could be it doesn't fit with my theme after all, don't have enough room or whatever.

For the most part these items are just inside the divider sections, really small items may get added to a small plastic box with mini-hold on them, but not all items.  If I take the box to show off (like after a big swap), then I use mini-hold on all the items.  But these are all for short trips.

One solution I might consider if I didn't have these plastic boxes, is make my own from cardboard. This would be similar to the trays I have for beads.  However the trays I made for swaps would be deeper to accommodate more items.  But I could still do the stacking within the larger box.  I would definitely add sections to give structure to the trays to keep an upper layer from crushing anything below.  The trays would need tabs at the end for sure to make it easy to lift them out.

Come back tomorrow for more organizing solutions - 2 days left in my 31 days.

Happy Miniature Organizing!
Preble

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Go Digital - Day 28 of 31 Days of Organizing

As I alluded to yesterday, I am trying to go digital whenever possible including as it relates to minis.  There are several ways that I do that.

Scanning
In order to go digital if one has paper saved, one needs a scanner.  I have a three in one (print, scan and copy).  
There are two basic ways to scan: photo or pdf.  I use photo if it is likely to be used in a document later or need printed on photo paper.  I use pdf if it is instructions or reference.  But can go either way (or even both) depending on what is scanned.
When scanning - ideally we should name it and put in the right folder as we are doing the scan process.  But it is ok to let the computer call it scan1, scan2 and then move it and rename it later.  Just do it sooner rather than later.  
I went through a bunch of my saved papers I and scanned them.  Or I recorded/typed the notes in OneNote - more on that below.

Naming and tagging digital items
When naming files or photos, I think it is important to either have them in a proper folder that helps me know what they are or take time to give it a really good name.  To save time later, we want to name them what the file or photo contains, not just the date when it was saved or taken.  Some photo programs allow one to add tags and that can be helpful later when doing searches.  Can also use Windows Explorer to add tags to files - select the file, without double clicking to open and then look for the Tag field.  Tags are something I haven't done much of, but would be useful if I took this time to do so.

Don't print
I try to avoid printing whenever I can.  If a kit instructor provides the instructions digitally online,  I print a copy to pdf.  Most computer these days have this automatic, but if not, just search for a print to pdf program and have that available when you print. 

Don't use paper to start with
This is hard for me but becoming easier as I get used to doing it. For years, I was accustomed to writing down my ideas, steps, notes or whatever.  But today, I try to use OneNote.  

OneNote is software by Microsoft that is similar in concept to a paper notebook/folder or binder with different sections.  Sections then have pages or sub-pages.  
I have three notebooks:
  • Just stuff - non mini - my everyday life)
  • My Projects - miniature projects
  • The Organized Miniaturist - this blog
So this is how it looks in OneNote
This pic is actually rotated - it normally shows as a side bar on the left.  

At the top are the sections within this notebook called 'My Project Ideas'
That * tab has a drop down arrow - which means I have even more sections (or tabs). The one to the right of that, is a new section button.
OneNote adds the sections(tabs) to the right as you add them, but then they can be rearranged or moved to another notebook if desired.  The colors are automatic but can be changed.
My sections are organized based on a project or a related topic.  There are many ways that I could do this.  By miniature scale would be one way.

Within each section, one then adds pages.  
The pages are what can be typed on or pictures added, or draw a sketch (with a mouse this is painful, but I have a stylus for my phone.)  If you add something here from the internet, OneNote will even paste in a link so you know where it came from.
The pages can also be sub-pages.  I use a page then as a cover page, then the sub-pages are the contents.
Sections can also be grouped, but found that doesn't work great on my phone.

Up to this point there isn't much that is too different from using folders on a computer or even paper, but look at the above pic at the top of it and you can see the Search box.  I know computers have search functions for files and folders, but I can say, not like this.  (I could have taken time to add tags, but I don't really need to do so in OneNote.  Although for other search functions it might be helpful.)
Let's say I am looking for "swaps", this is what OneNote found for me in my three notebooks:
I can then easily click on one of those and go to that page in whatever section.

One thing I love about OneNote - it AUTOMATICALLY SAVES.  I don't have to remember to save ever.  And I can look at that save information if I want to know when did I record this note.

Another thing I love - I can access it from any computer that has OneNote installed - I just have log in to see my notebooks.  So I can make a note about something on my phone and I can see that note on my netbook later.  I have been keeping track of the 31 ideas in OneNote and I can quickly see what my next topic is.  I take photos with my phone (with the regular camera but I could do it from OneNote if I wanted). I don't want to turn on the computer to see what I need pics of and with OneNote I don't have to.

If I do take a photo in OneNote - I can draw on it as well.

Yes, I can print from OneNote and it will add headers and page numbers automatically.

If you also use Outlook, you can flag as a task to be done.  I do use Outlook and I do flag emails, but I have found I don't particularly care to use this aspect of OneNote and Outlook together, at least not for minis. I also use OneNote in my real life (non-mini) job.

There is more to using OneNote that I have not touched on, but if interested one can review the help files in OneNote and also on the web. There are similar apps available that I have tried, but I am sticking with OneNote because I like the structure best of the ones I have seen and tried.

My Documents
Ok, so now I want to share about what I did and still have in place before OneNote.  It is a legacy system but I still use it as at least it is on the computer and it still works fine, just as a transition to using OneNote more and more I find I am not putting as much into these folders as I used to do, that is except for pictures.

I have a similar set up to OneNote with my folders:
  • General stuff folder
  • My Minis folder - pics and other files related to minis (This blog related stuff goes in here)
  • Other stuff that Windows organizes
All of this falls under the Documents library that Windows creates.  
Within the My Minis folder are folders:
- By scale
- By topic (not specific to scale) such as rabbits, raggedy, furniture ideas
In the by scale folder are folders such as '1-48 projects' and '1-48 projects completed' among many other folders.
In the 1-48 projects then are sub-folders then for each project.  Some of those then have additional sub-folders for ideas, instructions, particular aspect of the project, finished or in process pic folders.  
So this is how that looks:
My minis
 -1-48 projects
  - Bookhouse
   - in process pics
   - instructions
   - other misc ideas
 -1-48 projects completed
         with similar folders within
In the past the instructions would be done in Word or in Publisher.  But today, i would start them in OneNote, then once I needed to start preparing them to print, I would copy over into Word or Publisher.  This is because OneNote is great for taking notes, but Word and Publisher give better layout options.
My pics would be in the documents folders (Windows would recognize the folders for the My Pictures section as well).  
I also may have a pinterest board going that is related to any project I have in mind.  

Photos
Since I use my phone to take pics I do have a lot of miniature related pics on my phone.  I also organize these in albums by year or by scale.  The 'by year' is for non-mini and 'by scale' is for the mini related photos.  I find that having pics of minis (even the older ones I didn't take the photo using the phone to start with) are good to have on my phone so that I can share with others what I have made.  It is great to pull up my picturetrail site, but can't always do that if can't connect to the internet.
All photos mini related on my computer are filed under the Minis folder - I do allow Windows to also look for these folders based on having photos in them, but Pictures folder is not my go to for looking for mini related photos.

Come back to tomorrow for day 29 of 31 - getting near the end of my organizing blog spree.

Happy Miniature Organizing!
Preble

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's in the papers - Day 27 of 31 days of organizing minis

Today is paper day - paper I use and how I store it.
I have already talked about wallpaper so I won't discuss that here - I am talking about the paper we print on, clippings we might save, magazines, books, instructions, or other misc paper.
First, I think that it is very important that if we are including it in our minis that it be archival quality.  What this is means is it won't turn color or cause other damage later due to the acids in the material.  For example, newsprint will turn yellow over time.  Most copy paper is ok but it is always good to check the label of paper one is buying - is it acid and lignin free?  If it is not or unsure then think about it before buying.  It may be ok and just not labeled that way. 
Second, when it comes to paper and color, sun is likely to cause fading.  (This is also true of other colors on objects such as from paint.)  So for our paper, we should protect it from the sun both before and after we use it.

Storing paper
My printing paper is stored in a open shelf that I picked up second hand.  My plain copy paper - which I like to get a bright white so get best vibrancy, is stored open but in the package (I unwrap part of it).  My higher quality paper that I like to do special printing on comes in boxes and I leave it in the boxes until I use it.
I also have some photo paper - again stored in the original box to protect from light.
A sorter like this could be made using wood, but plastic stackable trays works great as well. I prefer a sorter of sort, so that I don't have to unstack to get to whatever. Of course paper could go in file folders or hanging folders as well.

For my printed papers - notes and instructions and receipts, I use a file box.  There are a myriad of options out there.  I like this one because it latches and has a handle on top.
About a year ago I went through this set of papers and I scanned (or typed up my notes) as much as I could at the time.  Yes, I did get rid of the paper afterwards. I am trying to be digital when it comes to paper.  There is a time to have paper, but I don't have to have paper all the time like for instructions or ideas.  I will talk about going digital in another day this month.  If I do print on paper, I try to reuse what is left for taking notes when I am done with it.  So let's say I forget to print on both sides and I am done with the paper, then I draw a mark across the printed side and turn over to use the other.  Sometimes these get cut/torn in half so becomes a smaller note sheet.
Let's say I buy a kit that comes with printed instructions.  I keep those with the kit until it is finished.  I may or may not scan it for later reference (which so far has been never needed), or just toss it.
If I get a kit without paper instructions and I need to go online to view them, then I will save a pdf copy of the instructions.  I do have a netbook (small laptop type computer) and I do take it in the studio.  So this works for me.  If I had a desktop computer I would be more inclined to print those out, but I would do so double-sided. 
I do like to save paper and save ink when I can.  So I use settings like fast (lower quality print out) or grey instead of colors for photos and then refer to the color photos on the computer.  This is unless I am making up kits and then I print color and good quality depending on what it is in the kit.
Things that I print that will be used in the miniatures themselves, I store those in my wallpaper binder.  I don't usually print things just to print them.  I print to use so I have very little printed on hand that I have done.
Alternative to the file box is a drawer cart with a filing section on top for hanging folders. I had one for awhile and my problem is dust.  It didn't help that my kitties liked to lay on it.  I don't recommend one for that reason, why I have a file box instead, but I know for some this would work.
Of course if keeping a lot of paper, a filing cabinet is good.  I have two of those - the short ones, but they hold household not miniature related papers.  And yes, I try to avoid keeping paper there too if I can.

Ideas and clippings
I have several binders full of ideas that I have clipped from magazines.  These are three ring binders and inside I have sheet protectors that the clippings are housed in.  I add labels to the sheet protectors so I know what the theme is for that group.  These aren't grouped in any particular order.  
I have another binder for newsletters - that contained instructions and I do have those indexed so that I can look up which one.
I don't subscribe to many magazines and ones I do, I don't cut up.  Instead I get more ideas from pinterest and google images if I need something.

Magazines
Miniature magazines hold a special place to me, so I have them all organized by month and year.  However I have considered selling what I have at one point and I did take time to scan most of them at the time.  I just did this for my use, not to share.  But I haven't kept up doing this. 
You can sort of see in this pic that I have some on top, those are recent ones I put there until I put them in a box.  
the labels I added are permanent (taped over with packing tape) once the box is full. Otherwise they are just taped at the top and bottom.  
These boxes are contact paper covered laundry detergent boxes.  

I am torn on whether magazines should be digital or paper.  I would love to have the option as easier to search for something, but I also love to hold them mag in my hand.  

Catalogs
I tend to keep this for awhile and then toss them.  I prefer to find things online and so don't get many catalogs.  I used to save them for a long time, but found typically the prices were out of date.  If a dealer I buy from gives me a catalog then it goes in the file box shown above, unless it is a dealer that sends them regularly and those hang around for a while then get tossed.

Books
I include this here as it is where it fits in the list of items I am sharing about.  But honestly I don't have many books that I consider miniature related.  Ones I do have, I keep in a bookshelf in my living room.  Writing this though is making me re-think that.  Both in terms of storage and also in terms of buying more for reference. 
My philosophy about having books has in general (not just mini) is to borrow rather than buy.  Unless I can buy cheaply.  With the internet buying cheaply becomes more a possibility for me.  The last one I got for minis was $0.01 plus $4 shipping.  That is cheap enough.  I have no issue with buying used.  But I do like to get the best deal for a used book I can and for what I have ordered, I won't complain.  Usually the interior is intact and that is why matters to me.
If I had more books, then I would do so by subject matter.

Come back tomorrow for another day of organizing ideas in my 31 days of organizing minis and mini supplies.

Happy Miniature Organizing!
Preble

Monday, January 26, 2015

Punching Pretty - Day 26 of 31 Days of Organizing

Let's talk about that punch - well punches - for making flowers and other things in minis

I have a small collection of punches - both the block punches and the hand held ones.
I have these in three drawers in my drawer cabinets
 Note the bottom drawer above has extra labels on it.  These 'labels' are paper that I punched the shape from.  I need to do this again so that the upper drawer has them again as well.  The drawer shown below also needs them.
This drawer in addition to the hand held punches also holds my fancy scissors.  
Another way these types punches and scissors could be stored is by hanging them from pegs on a wall.
Another miniaturist shared with NAME that she uses the closet door holders like for shoes or other accessories to hold her many punches.  Divided boxes that allow one to adjust the dividers would also be a good option.
The punched pieces need a place to be stored as well especially if one borrows a punch or buys some pre-punched. I started with a tray that had pockets in it but no lid.  It was something my sis-in-law had given me from her work at a dental office.  I made a lid of sorts from cardboard.  
Later I was to be a part of a group buy of a bunch of pre-punched petals.  These came to me in little zip bags.  I liked the bags.  The bags I had gotten before were not the zip bags, but had the cardboard folded over the top.
One day I decided to sort these by color and using the idea I had seen used at shows to display other items, I taped each bag to a plastic sheet protector for a three ring binder. The sheet protector just has a sheet of paper in it. The plastic is what the little bags are taped to.  I also had plastic tab sheets and I added those to make the sheets stiffer.  alternatively I could have just used the tabs to tape to or I could use stiffer paper.  The tabs do help to separate the sheets.   The tabs and sheets all go in a three ring binder. This binder is called a case binder.  It is more like a plastic box than a typical binder that is open on three sides.
This particular style also has a plastic sleeve over the outside which allows to add a cover to be inserted.  I took pictures of each page inside, reduce their size and combined that all together on one page.
Here's an actual page inside.
I sub-grouped by shade or tint, and then arranged smaller to largest of the same shape.
The same friend that uses the over the door holder, houses her punched punches in a divided box.  She labels them based on the shape and adds a number to her punches.  So if she has same shape but three sizes, she would have #1, #2, #3.  The box gets labeled that was as well so that if that bin is empty she knows which punch to use to refill.
An alternative I might consider for storing the punched punches would be a pocket page type photo album.  Again I would sort by color.
For whatever solution I used for the punches themselves, I think the more punches one has the more that I would group them by shape and label the exterior unless I could easily see their sizes.  

Sharpening a punch?
I have read that punching with wax paper or aluminum foil sharpen them.  My experience is that is not the case.  The wax might help temporarily, and the foil well to me it is just another media the punch is going through.  I don't think it really hurts to try these methods, just that it won't do much in my experience.
To truly sharpen, I think they would need to be taken apart and that is just something I am not going to do, nor am I going to have done.  I only have one punch that is really even a problem for me.  I used it to punch butterflies from cooper and I got to point of using a hammer and wood block to get them all cut.  
Granted none of my punches are the expensive - $30 ones and if they were, I might consider having them professionally sharpened.

Using punched pieces
I think that punches can be an excellent source of shapes especially if using them for a swap.  
When it comes to making flowers, I personally feel that the punches need to be enhanced with both shaping and with color.  For example, a double ball stylus can be used either wet or dry to shape and markers or paint can be used to accent the shapes to look more life-like with color variations.
Of course punches can also be used for things like frames, clocks, signs and more.

Sequins
Sequins are pre-punched things that can also be used particularly for mirrors, plates, vinyl records - all depending on the color, shape and size.  Don't throw away those sequin holes as I use those as well for buttons and such.
Storing these is super simple in my studio - a plastic bag in a drawer.  I have bought mixed colors and so far haven't taken time to sort them out.  When I use them, I dump them on a paper plastic sort to find what I want, then re-bag using the plate as a funnel of sorts.
I have even used my sequins and punches together - taking a shape that is one thing to another shape with the punch.  I have purposefully bought larger round ones so that I could punch them into other shapes.

Come back tomorrow for another idea on organizing for my 31 days of Organizing in January.

Happy Miniature Organizing!
Preble