This storage solution works because I am storing 1/48th scale items. These are from mostly from online swaps or purchases from miniature shows.
I used to do a lot of swaps (make 10 same items - send to central point - get back 10 different items) and I still do the online convention totefavor swap ( make 50 items ... get back 50 different) for Quarter Connection. ( I don't so much enjoy making the multiples, but it is all worth it to get the different swaps back.)
The first big swap I did was for the first Quarter Connection online convention and I did 125. So I got back 125 and real fast I figured out I needed a way to store them. It was fun to look at them and read what the sender had written in their packaging but when it came to finding something to use, it was a nightmare. So one day I decided to do something about it.
Temporary storage for show and tell
For the recent convention - I made 27 swaps - received 24 back. 3 were donated to the convention to raise funds to cover the costs of mailing. I also participated in a table swap. I made 9 items and got 9 back. I also could have done 1 larger item, but ran out of time. If I had - I would have gotten 1 larger swap back that would have been different than the rest of the swaps.
So I have nearly 40 items that I want to show people. Instead of taking them out of their packages individually to show and then re-wrap them, I will put them together in a divided box. I hold them in place in the box with mini-hold, a waxy like product that is non-permanent, if I am worried they might get damaged moving around. I can take that one box with me to show off and then later, I will transfer them to be with the rest of my swaps as discussed below.
Store Swaps or finished items in Divided Boxes -
I had purchased some divided boxes from Hobby Lobby. These boxes are the kind without the moveable dividers and that works. I still use those, but I prefer the ones made for fishing tackle (or whatever) that have the moveable dividers.
In this photo, the swap box contains furniture.
Store them by Theme or Type
In the cases where I was in a specific theme swap, I have them grouped together by the theme. However for the most part I do have them grouped with similar type of item.
Some of my other boxes are Kitchen, Garden, Building components, Holidays.
I also have a few boxes that are totally themed, like ME and fairy. These were swaps that were themed and although there might be a bed or a chair in them they have a special theme and I want them together by that theme/style.
Go 'Shopping' for a project
When I get ready to build a kit such as a house, I 'go shopping' in the appropriate swap box. I pull out anything I think might work with the house kit.
With regards to larger scales, I didn't have this volume issue that needed a storage solution. In that case, I generally stored furniture in a box together by room as well, I just didn't have so many. I also might have used a single box (probably a shoebox or other similar size container) per project.
Record who made what with detail
As for the names of who made the swaps I got, well, I write that down and then log in my computer. I have a excel file that lists what I got, when I got it and who it was from. My first list was lost so I don't have all the original makers unfortunately. One thing I have learned about doing that is this. Write it down and be detailed. Example, white bench by abc is not as good as white wood bench with painted purple flowers by abc. Because I have swapped so much I found it was important to be more detailed. I also write the initials on the bottom if I can. This helps to decide if it was by ac vs eg, unless made by two ac's. At least it gets me closer to recognizing who made what when I go to use it.
Yes, I like to record who made what that I use, so that is why having the database is important to me.
By recording it, I have no problem with separating that item from it's packaging which goes in my swap boxes by type or theme.
Alternative to divided boxes - make your own
Another idea for storing items where the divided boxes aren't available is to use mini muffin wrappers in larger tray type box (1 inch deep and cut the wrapper if needed.) Or make your own wrappers by folding into boxes to divide the tray. Just make sure the trays go into something with a lid.
Another person mentioned having some boxes with plastic lids. She said she could add the muffin type wrappers. I like that idea as you can see what is in the box without opening.
Another thing I like about the idea of trays, whether divided boxes or the just mentioned ones it that they can be stacked on a shelf and by labeling the ends you can pull out the box you need to 'shop' in at the moment.
This photo shows these divided boxes stacked on a shelf. The two boxes on their side on the right contain embroidery floss so no problem to have them on their side. Because I do not have the swaps in packaging I do not turn them on their side.
The slightly wider ones are the 'tackle' box type with moveable dividers. The shorter and narrow ones are from Hobby Lobby that do not have moveable dividers. If you can pick one or the other, I prefer the moveable dividers.