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.


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.
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.
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. 
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.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

New computer and a photo book about miniatures

A fellow miniaturist shared they had gotten a new computer recently and was having trouble with the transition.  It dawned on me that I had also gotten a new computer recently as well and my transition went fairly smoothly. I thought that I would provide and update to various posts related to organizing.

First, let's talk computers 

I got my new laptop as a birthday gift to me. I wanted a new one because I was having issues with one program and Windows 10 on my previous laptop. That program was My Memories Suite 7 (I get no benefit from you trying or purchasing the software), which I had purchased after trying several online programs and also a trial of this software. 
I had discussed with hubby on whether I could just upgrade my laptop by adding memory or something. He did his research and told me that for the cost, I might as well pay more and get a new one instead. Isn't that the way of things (ridiculous)! After doing some research myself, I agreed with him and off we went to looking at availability locally. I have not reached a point where I am willing to buy such online. It also helped me decide that I wanted a touchscreen. I've wanted a Surface Pro for some time, but that was not in my budget. Especially since I knew that I would have to purchase a keyboard.
My solution was a 2 n 1. Tablet and laptop. The cost of being able to separate the screen from the keyboard was out of my price range considering the operating requirements we had decided on. I could have gotten the separate thing for the same price but no upgrade on the other requirements. After using this 2 n 1, I feel that having a tablet and separate keyboard isn't a big benefit I really need. Most of the time I am using the keyboard. Plus the 2 n 1 flips around and I can stand it up.
The size of the storage is 1 TB and way more than I feel I need. But that was not my deciding factor.
I won't go into details about the computer itself as your needs may not be relevant to mine. My point is really that we did our homework for my needs and shopped within our total budget. It was more than I wanted to spend, but getting a new laptop vs just upgrading was the difference in cost that gave me what I really wanted.
I am super pleased with my 2 n 1 and I think it will last me a while. Well, I sure hope it does.

Second, before I transferred - back up

I think it was still this year, we bought a back up drive. It's a WD My Passport Ultra. It has 1 TB of memory, which was more than my prior laptop had at the time. Because of that I partitioned it, which allowed hubby and I to share it. He got more space as he does videos and needed more. Although we still have lots of space right now. I further partitioned my section so I could have one area that was just for auto backup. I use WD's software for that and I was already familiar with this brand as I use it for a work as well. 
I only back up files (pics, vids, music) and not software, so size equal to the laptop hard drive doesn't need to be matched.
I don't like online backup although I do use OneDrive for photos and my OneNote files. The OneNote is so that they sync across devices and OneDrive is just what I selected to use for photos so they are available from my phone to my computer and I have stuck with them.
I am not the best at backing up regularly. I guess I need to set a reminder. But I have done it several times this year. Maybe every 1.5 months or so, which isn't too bad. I do it more when I am busier making files so it works for me.
Before I could transfer to the new laptop, I did a backup of the old one of the files I normally back up.
I want to remind you that it is really important to backup your files. There are many options and I won't get into those. Cost, convenience and availability are factors to consider.

Third, transfer files

OK, I considered a way to do this via wifi, but decided it would just take too long. I did download a program to both laptops but then later decided why not just use the backup drive since I would be using it for backups anyway in the future.
I downloaded the software needed for backups and then did a restore from backup to the new laptop. I am sure there was another way to do this, but it was just how I went about it.
In addition to miniature related files and photos, I have a bunch of family photos and also my scrapbook files and albums.
Because I had changed names with one laptop to the other and I did a restore, the files copied to another user on the new laptop. This wasn't an issue for me as I was able to easily copy them to the right location afterwards. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to the restore location and that wouldn't have been an issue either.
Now, all my old files are copied to the new laptop and in the same locations. Course I did do some clean up of duplicates and such.

Next, email

Email was really super easy for me.
I had to purchase a new copy of MS Office. I get this through a home use program via work for a great rate. You may can get a similar one if you work for a company - ask about their home use program.
The copy of office was Office 2016 and is the latest. I used 2013 before and 2010 still on the work laptop. So far the differences is small.
In Outlook 2016, I added my three main accounts: personal, mini and junky. I talked about why I have these separate here. 2016 does work a tad different but more in appearance. In the background it is syncing all my folders automatically, which is what I love about IMAP email protocol. 
The only issue I have is not with Outlook but in the way I manage contacts. I don't maintain them in Outlook but in Gmail. I had to go to Gmail, download a copy for importing to Outlook. Then in Outlook I had to import the file. Both of these steps were fairly simple. 
I maintain them in Gmail so I can have them on my phone. I do make sure that my phone syncs to the web. This is super important if your phone ever crashes. I've heard too many people complain about not having their contacts. Pay attention to the settings for accounts so that isn't a problem for you.

Last, my scrapbook software and use for minis

Wait, stay with me even if you are miniaturist
One issue I had with the software was a menu. This menu wasn't showing but I could tell it was actually working just not right. My point that applies to miniaturists is to keep trying and solve your issue. Don't give up it could be as simple as mine was. It was a difference in screen size. The popup menu was apparently designed for a slightly larger screen so it showed blank (all white). Once I resized the popup window the menu items show up. Quirky, right?
It did take me trying to remove and reload the software and some other things before I finally figured it out. It wasn't anything wrong with my files or the software not working. In this software, one of the menu's you use to select the album format appeared white on the screen. Blank it seemed but yet I could click in this seemingly blank area and it would select something. What I figured out was that if I resized the menu, then I could see it like it is supposed to be. It did take me several tries to figure out what was wrong. 

This process is really important. I wasn't doing anything wrong, nor had the program loaded incorrectly, it was just a simple little formatting issue in the software that my smaller screen caused or possibly the ratio of my screen. I kept trying and I ultimately found a solution. If there is nothing else you get from this post, please keep trying. Don't assume it is always something you did wrong. It could be the actual software has some sort of glitch.

Miniaturists - stay with me I still have more to say about this software that relates.

I use this software mostly to make family photo albums. But I recently had printed a photo book that is about miniatures. This book is a flip book that you open one way to view it like a story book. Flip it over and view it like a how to book for the project. The photos are all of my Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes miniature project I madeI'll share about that book in another post.

The software uses files they call elements - we would call printies. These files could be used in miniature. They do not require the software to work. Many are free to be downloaded. These files could be printed for wallpaper or backgrounds.

Do I always need to organize my way? Finally, one issue I had is related to my obsession with working with things in themes and by color. I have had this software since January and since that time I have been downloading the elements to use. Back when I started I didn't like their way of organization, so I was moving them to folders according to how I think of things. This meant the digital paper files were getting sorted by color instead of the designer theme they had. 
BUT - here's the kicker... it was taking me extra time each month when I got new ones to move them around. After doing this for 7 months now, I realized that I was better off just leaving their organization. As much as I hate it, it is livable. It wasn't the time that was already spent each month that bothered me. It was that each month I would have to continue doing this to really keep up. Some months it was getting harder to find time to do it, so they were building up.
When I mentioned above that I was able to copy over my files from one computer to the other, well... I did that initially. But due to another issue - that turns out wasn't an issue. I decided to start over and I downloaded them all again, just so I have their setup and don't have to try to put them back in the folders they had them in. It took a few evenings while watching tv and I was all done.
I could have choose to just use their setup with the new downloads, but I choose to start over instead so everything was according to their system. Had I been further along (a year of files) I might have gone with the half mine system and half theirs.