Monday, May 26, 2014

Moving - Rearranging and Downsizing

Moving things around is a really good way to figure out what you have and consider better ways to organize.  Moving house can force us to choose whether we want to keep something or not, especially when the new space is smaller.  Smaller space can be a good thing if viewed from the idea that having things in reach makes one more efficient.  It doesn't have to be a bad thing as maybe the new space can afford more shelving or some other advantage previously unavailable.  So if moving to a smaller space, think of it as positive.  If nothing else, you will get the advantage of going through you things to be reminded of what you have already.  It might also inspire you to work on what you have.

Savers - Hoarders - call us what you will

I know that many miniaturists are savers - some might even call us hoarders - but I do not.  To me, a hoarder is someone who is unwilling to part with things that have no use to them and I believe that some of them have a real medical condition.  I know some things are relative as to whether they are useful, but from my perspective someone I would call a hoarder tends to not really have an answer as to why they have so much stuff.  Another aspect of being a hoarder is someone who will save too much.  Too much can also be relative as a person who makes a kits might have a justification for saving many of something so they can have enough for kits, where someone who only saves for themselves doesn't need a lifetime supply for ten people. Being a saver is one way to stretch the funds available, but there is truly a fine line between just right and too much.

So when it comes to tossing versus keeping here are some points to consider:

  • Do I have a current need for this item?
  • Do I foresee a future need?
  • Is it easily replaced?
  • Do I have too much/many?
  • Do I still have room for it?
  • Can I make it fit into a smaller space?
Each of these questions will be answered differently for different people and at different times.

Current need / Future need?

If there is a current need then by all means keep it.  However depending on the answer to other questions, may still be a candidate for tossing.
Speaking for myself, I am always saving for a future need.  However again, depending on my answer to other questions whether I will continue to save it.  The key here is to be honest with yourself and not just assume that keeping it is the best thing to do.  Moving it or continuing to store it may cost you, sometimes in terms of money but also in the weight it has on your mind. Granted there are some items that we know we should hang on to because of the next question.  

Easily replaced?  

In the miniature world, I learned early on that when it comes to one-of-a-kind items I may see at a show, I need to buy it if I can afford to do so.  The odds are that it won't be available in the future.  But when this question is applied to a material, particularly one that is common every day item that i am recycling - say an egg carton or plastic lids, then I need to limit myself to what I save.
Let's talk about egg cartons - the paper machie kind are good for cutting up to make faux stones, or torn apart and make tree bark.  The foam kind can also be cut up to make faux stone or bricks - just a different style.  Saving them is a good idea - but think about how many to save goes back to whether they are easily replaced.  So I say save a few and toss the rest unless your stock needs to be replenished.  Although I will admit it is ok to keep in mind that the egg sellers may switch from one to the other and sure that is when you probably will need more.  However if you are still connected to the internet, I would suggest to ask other miniaturists if they might be able to share as their egg seller may still have the other kind.

Too many?

One example of the too many question combined with the easily replaced comes to mind.  I have used butter dish lids for paint before. Since butter dishes are something I frequently empty, I don't save every lid as I don't use that many for minis.   I can wash them off and do so for a few times, but then will discard them. Usually by that time there is another one available. 
The big key about saving items is whether I have room to continue saving and whether I have used what I have saved. 

Fit in a smaller space?

When it comes to smaller spaces - one thing I do is remove the packaging.  For example, over the years I have participated in many swaps.  Each swapper wraps the item individually.  Fairly early on I decided to remove them from the wrapping and store the swap items in my divided boxes.  The notes that tell who made it were recorded and then I could discard the notes and the wrapping.  In this case it also makes it much easier to see what I have to use in a project. 

Saving or Tossing Organic Items

When it comes to organic items - here are a few more questions to consider?
  • Is this item spoiled?
  • Is this item contained to keep out critters?
  • If used in miniatures will it be safe from critters then?
  • Has the color changed since purchased?
  • If the color changes will I still be happy with it having been used in miniatures?

Item spoilage

Regarding that first organic question, several times I have chosen to throw out dried flowers because they were growing mold.  This is likely due to the humidity in my house - more so in my prior one as it was not controlled environmentally as well as the house I have now. It is possible that had the flowers been in a project they would not have the mold, but keep in mind these are still organic items and being dried doesn't always mean 'never going to change'.

Keep out the critters?

I have heard stories of how critters have eaten away bits that were glued down.   Also very important to store these items properly to keep the critters out.  Even more importantly is to get rid of the critters before storing.  Heating organic materials like sticks and pine cones to kill critters is a good idea. I tend to steer away from organic materials today because of critters and other issues - read on...

Color change

Exposure to light can change the color of materials that are not color fast.  Read labels.  I used a product clearly labeled as not color fast and then got it wet.  The color ran and I didn't want it in my project.  It was a serious task in order to remove it.  If I had read the label, I wouldn't have used it.
A friend of mine once made a garden of all dried items.  A few years later that garden looked drab and not nearly as nice, because the dried items faded.  There is a lot of time and effort put into making miniatures.  It is such a shame to waste said time and energy only to have it look less inviting a few years later. 
Organic materials are not the only things that can change color.  Take paper for example, ever notice how newsprint changes color overtime.  That's because it has lignin in it.  As lignin deteriorates, it gives off acid and that acid causes the color change.  
It is also good to have acid-free paper for the same reason.  Even if it doesn't change color - it can still cause damage to the miniature it is used in.  I spend too many hours making these wonderful collectibles to knowingly use materials that can damage it over time.
Protect things from light - sun and other sources of light can cause fading.  This is true for things besides organic materials and paper and include things such as paint and fabric.


Ten plus years ago, I decided to focus on 1:48 scale miniatures.  To be honest, I don't recall why I decided to stop making miniatures in 1:12 scale.  Maybe I got a wild hair and just decided I couldn't do it all.  There's a thought.  One that bears consideration for our lives, but will leave that for another day.  
Back to the 1:12 scale minis.  1:12 scale takes up more room than 1:48 scale is probably one of the big reasons I decided I would scale back.  I went through all my things - purchased items, finished items and supplies.  I photographed many of them and sold them online.  I kept a few projects already started - a scrapbook dome and my rabbit collection domes.  One rabbit dome was already full but the second one had not be made yet.  But I knew I wasn't going to stop collecting rabbits so I keep those things I knew would use in those projects.  The rest - either I sold, donated or gifted to my daughter who still has a 1:12 scale house.  
It felt good to downsize. It also helped clear my head of projects I was no longer going to do. Some of the projects I have adapted to 1:48 scale and most of the others I have abandoned.  In that sense - I cleared some space in my brain as these projects hadn't been started yet.

Tools - Downsized

I also downsized my tools.  Sort of.  Mostly this meant that bigger tools that I didn't use for 1:48 scale frequently were put away and not carried in my tool basket.  In this case, I just chose for my tool basket the smallest tool I was comfortable with to use most often.  For example, I have a 6 inch ruler, not my 12 inch in my tool basket (now tool box). I still have the 12,18, and 36 inch rulers available should I need them, but stored away.  In my tool box, I also keep a small square and small right angle.  I store these extra tools in drawers or on the wall - hanging on pins.  
Scissors for example - I have several in multiple sizes, but in my tool box is just a couple.  The bigger ones are put away.  I even gave away some.
When I switched from a tool basket to a small tool box, I had to be even more selective in my tools.  
Last year I purchased a bunch of tools at a garage sale.  Because I bought the whole lot, I got a great deal on the ones I really wanted.  There were many of tools I already had.  I picked through this bunch and kept the ones I really wanted.  Then I gifted the rest to two other miniaturists.  I could have kept that whole bunch, but instead I choose to pass them along simply because I knew that I didn't want to store them or deal with sorting through those when I really didn't need to.  Being a miniaturist, I love my tools, but I recognize when I have too many of something.  But twenty years ago, I might not have.  I have come a long way to being able to part with my things.

Fabric Stash Downsized

Fabric was a biggie that I downsized.  I used do some real life quilting and making my own clothes, so had accumulated some fabric.  When I downsized minis to 1:48 scale, I was very selective in what I kept of the fabric.  First, I examined the weave.  Would I use it in 1:48 scale?  How much could I reasonable use in 1:48 scale project (or projects if it was  common enough fabric)?  What about the print?  Really large scale flowers or prints - they were donated unless I felt I could possibly use a portion.  Anything I kept was a small amount unless I could see using quite a bit of it, such as to make kits.  Also fabric I felt I could reasonable purchase at anytime - well I keep a small amount as well.  Much of the excess was donated so someone else could benefit and I no longer needed to store. 

Landscaping supplies - 

I downsized these as well.  In this case it was to get rid of the excess - either in amount or the types I couldn't see being used in 1:48 scale. 
I still need to work on these.  Right now I have a large cardboard box in the closet of my studio room.  It houses the dried things that are bigger.  When I do landscaping I generally need to purge from this box due to spoilage.  Which should really tell me to stop using these type of things.  
My other location is a three-drawer cart sorted by color.  This works for now, but I want to review this storage for more focused divisions than just a drawer for greens, flower colors, and neutrals.  The main reason is to downsize this further - by consolidating all the same colors and texture into same bags.  I am quite sure that I have multiple bags of same things in this area. 


Again I will say that if moving - see it as an opportunity to explore new options, even if it is to a smaller space it doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Being more organized or more selective in what is stored may be the key to feeling freer and comfortable in the new space.
Rearranging things will remind us what we have.
Downsizing - also can be freeing - projects no longer weigh on the mind or take up space in our lives.  

Happy organizing and miniaturing!