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.


  • 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!

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.

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.

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,

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!

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.

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.  

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!

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.

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.  

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.

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!

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 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!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 25 of 31 Days of Organizing - Landscape supplies

Landscaping supplies
I have a variety of supplies I have collected over the years.  I really enjoy using the ones developed for train enthusiasts to use.  For what I have collected I have separated by color.  (My favorite way to sort.)
I most everything in a three drawer cart.
A drawer for greens
A drawer for flower colors
A drawer for browns, black and whites - which includes various sands that might be used for dirt and ground
For all of these I use a lot of zip bags.  I have found these to be the best option.  To avoid dealing with the materials getting in the zip part, I use a metal bead scoop to dip out of the bags. I rarely use it for beads as I have mine sorted so am not typically dealing with larger quantities of beads.  But for landscaping, I like dipping versus pouring.  I do use a paper plate or something under my project to capture the excess and pour back into the bags.
Another bunch of landscaping I have is dried materials.  These have a tendency to be larger packages, so keep them in a large box in my closet.  
I do take a smaller amount of the dried items and put in a small bag to keep in with the three drawers of landscaping supplies.

Come back tomorrow for another organizing idea during my 31 days of organizing.

Happy Miniature Organizing!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Packaging - Day 24 of 31 Days of Organizing

Zip bags are something I can't do without.  I found this box in yet another laptop box.  But it could be easily set up.
As you can it has four sections that were built in - but I am using checkbook boxes to divide the one section further.  I could see taking a pizza box type box and just adding more boxes that I made to hold the bags.  I like having different sizes on hand.  I do use these for swaps, holding punches, and leftover bits.  I buy them and I save them when I get something.  
My larger zip bags go in a drawer with other packaging.
I also save any little containers because I need packaging up swaps and also for storing other miniatures and supplies.  I also store things like lids that I use for paint palettes and paper plates for recapturing excess landscaping, glitter, beads or whatever and also for holding items while painting.
Shipping supplies have drawers as well.  I have a box in the closet for packing peanuts. All this stuff needs contained somewhere so drawers are great, but boxes are great too. Labels are important if can't see in the drawer.
Boxes for shipping, they need a place too.  When I have more boxes than this, I make sure to store them flat like on the each side.  The ones on the left (in plastic wrap) are priority mail boxes.

Come back tomorrow for another organizing idea during my 31 days of organizing.

Happy Miniature Organizing!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 23 of 31 Days Organizing - Specialty tools, saws & moto-tool

Specialty tools
Bulky tools need somewhere to go as well.  These are the ones that have a tendency to get boxed in.  But since I moved to my studio room (a whole bedroom) and bought some extra shelves second-hand, I do have space to store them.
When storing these, access is a consideration.  If they are used often, then more prominent storage location is important to me.  I am thankful to have that shelf space so these don't have to be put away in boxes.
My saw goes on a shelf and I add a protector over the saw (just in case my kitties get in the shelf or to protect me).  

To the left of the saw, I have two boxes that hold my saw accessories.  The flatter box at the bottom came from a laptop box.  I am always on the lookout for good boxes.  I don't save all boxes, but ones like this I do.  I added an envelope to the lid to hold the instructions that came with the saw and the accessories.
The one above that holds the rest of the tools that go with my saw.
One tip for tools that go with specific things is to color code or otherwise mark them.  
The green tape was done by the person who sold the saw to me, but it wasn't enough for me.  I added gold paint to the screws this particular tool matches.  Then also added the gold marking on the green tape.  I know maybe it is that easy to just try them, but this saves me time having to figure out - especially on the saw itself.

Come back tomorrow for another organizing idea during my 31 days of organizing.

Happy Miniature Organizing!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Making Shapes - Day 22 of Organizing miniatures

Making shapes - really that's all that working with clay is all about

Granted clay is intimidating.  But if we could think of using it in shapes and combining those shapes, then I am sure we could all do more clay work.
That said, I will probably still get frustrated and have to put it down and walk away when my creations don't meet my expectations of what they should look like.
So when it comes to clay, I don't much of this.
I now have two small plastic boxes.  One is for clay and the other is for tools.

I got a bunch of tools second hand at a yard sale, but I have bought my share.  
When storing polymer clay, one consideration is to not store in direct contact with some plastics.  The clay can melt the plastic.  But not all plastic as they sell it in plastic.  

There are other media to make shapes like celluclay - I just store this in a drawer in the bag it came in.  For this stuff, just don't want it to get wet as it will harden if wet. Plaster cloth - that stuff is fun!  I want to make more stuff with that.  Again it needs to be keep dry.  I showed were I keep both of this stuff in a drawer a few days ago.

Since I don't have much to organize here, I will leave you with some tips about using these materials.

  • Wash hands before using clay, then again after.  Particularly when switching colors.
  • Some clays can be mixed with hand lotion.  As in put on hand lotion and the work the clay.
  • If you hands can't handle the hand-mixing required for mixing colors, then buy colors needed, use a different type of clay or buy a pasta maker.  I would buy one if I did more clay.  But I usually don't have issues with scupley brand and I also use the flesh color and then paint.
  • To avoid burning, turn down the temp or use an oven thermometer.  It could be your oven is not accurate.  It is ok to cure the clay on lower temp for longer time.  Alternatively can lay the item in polyfil.
  • To support items when baking, use polyfil or cornstarch.
  • Avoid shiny spots by baking on smooth cardboard or parchment.
  • Items can be cured, then add to them and bake again.

Come back tomorrow for another organizing idea during my 31 days of organizing.

Happy Miniature Organizing!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Color Me Wonderful - Day 21 of 31 days of organizing

Sorry if I am shouting but it is just excitement.
When I organize, one of my most common means of sorting is using color, so organizing my paints is no different.
I am talking about acrylic paints.  I prefer Ceramcoat if I can get it. But lately stores have started carrying their own brands and pushing Ceramcoat out.  I haven't resorted to ordering it online but maybe I should.  I would be voting with my dollars telling the hobby stores what I don't want at least.  But I digress.

Storing acrylic paints
I have been doing this in shelves and boxes for years.  The boxes are laundry detergent boxes cut down and then covered in contact paper.  

When I set up my adjustable shelves, I set one set so these boxes fit like drawers.  For a long time, I just pulled on the boxes, but last year, I cut holes in the front to make them easier to pull out.
When I moved to my new studio room, I got fancy with labels.  These don't have the holes.  I used a paint bottle to draw a circle and then cut the hole.  The hole was a thumb hole if you like.  I got the idea from shoe boxes.  

Now I am trying another system.  Still boxes, but using used small priorty mail boxes. Fortunately I have collected a bunch so far. The purpose of these is to separate by related colors and in smaller bunches.  As I buy more colors, I need more boxes.  My problem with the laundry boxes was how they fit in the box.  This lets me be more selective - pull out fewer colors. 

Other options of course are out there for holding paint bottles,  examples like wire racks, turntables and shelves that are narrow only allowing one row of paint on them.  I wanted a wire rack or turntable rack for a long time but never brought myself to buy one.  I might have gone the wall rack route if I had the wall space in my old studio area, but had already switched to these boxes.  Probably the reason I haven't really considered it in my new studio area and putting up wall racks although I now have the wall space.  It sure would look pretty to have all that color on the wall though. lol

One consideration about racks and boxes, is that some like to store paint on it's side.  I don't.  I am a flip it method person.  I turn the bottle up or down and then rotate them about ever six months or so.  I can't say this has fixed the drying up problem I deal with it. I have read that a paint manufacturer recommends to remove the air and then seal the lid. Well, my problem with that is that I keep it too long - or rather don't go through it that fast.  So the air thing would just mess up the bottles.  My answer is to just open up the bottle, remove the blob of dried up and go on.  If it dries up too much, I throw it out.

While we are talking paint, let's talk about brushes.
I have a bunch of brushes and I admit to being hard on them.  I am trying to do better.  I store the brushes I use most in my toolbox
I try to keep the ends of ones that are tiny (10 0 or smaller) in tubes.  These tubes usually come with the brushes.  This helps to keep the brushes from getting smooshed in the box for one.  I have replaced these tubes using small drinking straws when the tubes disappear.
I keep my spare brushes in a drawer in a cabinet.  These are mostly ones I have ruined, but also just some larger sizes that I don't use as often.  I also keep spare paint palette in this drawer.
I ruin my brushes by not properly cleaning them or by leaving them too long in water.  My attitude now is to not leave a brush in water.  Often what happened is I just forgot they were in the water.  I leave my studio and come back days later.  Could be the water has even dried up.  Very wasteful I know so hence my trying to never leave a brush in water.  

Random Painting tips

  • Use thin coats,
  • Sand between coats
  • Rinse brushes - don't soak them.  Rinse and wipe on paper towel until no more color. Or use soap to get acrylic out of a brush.
  • Use smaller brushes for smaller spaces
  • Hold a piece in multiple ways so can see all the angles.  Maybe it is the perfectionist in me, but I paint even where it won't show.
  • Watch for paint build up on edges, wipe it away or sand it.
  • Use quality materials
  • Take time to do it right - it will be reflected in your quality overall.
  • Use magnification if you need to, you won't get a shock so much when you take a photo that shows the mistakes you missed without it.

Come back tomorrow for another organizing idea during my 31 days of organizing.

Happy Miniature Organizing!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bonding it Together - Day 20 of 31 Days of Organizing

Glues and Stain need to be stored too, so I'm talking about it to/day.

Glue is another one of those supplies we need that don't so much need organized as just stored until we need it.
I have a love/hate relationship with glue and glue bottles.  Years ago when I first started in miniatures and was traveling to miniature group meetings, it was a big deal to me to have a traveling toolbox.  I wanted my toolbox to allow me to store my tacky glue bottle upside down.  If you didn't, the glue took forever to come out.  
I wasn't so much concerned with the glue coming out at the wrong time, although that happened to me once in a hot car on the inside of a project.  Totally ruined the project as it was a room in a bag and the glue was laying on the top.  The heat caused the lid to pop right off and the glued poured in.  Back in those days there were only a regular size and large size bottle of tacky.  There were no glue pens or little trial bottles, at least not in the stores I had access to.  
Today my solution to the glue bottle is indeed smaller bottles.  These bottles actually fit in my small divided boxes in my toolbox.  And even if the lid popped off the glue would be contained in the divider section.  Not that I travel much anymore.  
The bottle in the back in the left is a glue pen.  These come in three different sizes.  I still like to keep them tip side down.  I use a square plastic box that is about 1" x 1" by 2" long to hold this upside down when I take it out of the toolbox.

Other things related to bonding minis are clamps.  I like to use small wood clothespins. But I also have some metal ones.  Then I use straight pins to hold glued items in place particularly foam core board items.  Sometimes I even leave the pins in.  Another option for this is wood toothpicks.  I insert those in foam - for bases.  And I do leave them in as it holds the foam together.  I just snip off the tips so it is flush with the foam.
Toothpicks are also good for spreading glue.  Other tools I have for that are in the long middle section.  Double-balled styluses - those can be used for dotting paint, or glue. Also I have a metal tool like an ice pick but not a big handle I use it for dotting on glue as well, much easier clean up.
That white thing in the middle section is a bone folder.  I don't know why it is called a folder as isn't folded.  Guess it is because it helps to get a nice crease when folding things.  But I have used it as a glue spreader/smoother for wallpaper.  Both for the inside with the glue and outside on the paper itself.  However the glue gets wiped away if using on the outside of the paper when using it like a squeege. An alternative is to use an old credit card.  I keep those around for this.
That yellow handle tool is a palette knife sort.  I use if for spreading glues or other wet media like spackle or celluclay.

Another aspect of glue is that I have tried different types.  I loved Ultimate especially for the ability to reposition while still wet.  Tacky is not helpful in this. But the Ultimate had issues, I couldn't get the glue to come out. Having the bottle turned upside down didn't matter.  It just seemed to congeal and not work.  After a couple of different bottles, I gave up on that type and switched back to tacky.  
Another solution was to use tip bottles.  A small bottle that required filling from a larger bottle and you add a metal tip to it.  I had some small serving glasses and I stored the bottle tip end down in a wet sponge.
I used these for a really long time.  But often I left it too long, the sponge dried up and the glue in tip dried up too.  I had to clean it out every time I tried to use it. I tried the metal pins and that didn't help. Basically the issue was due to too much in between time working on miniatures.  Sometimes it happens that we go through a dry spell of wanting to do miniatures.  Perfectly ok, except the glue dried and had to be dealt with.  My solution to this issue - using the glue pen.  I love these.  I have refilled these.  Only problem is that I broke the tip that helps to stop the glue from drying up. I have had to resort to ordering these from Amazon when my local hobby store stopped carrying them. That's a smaller one in the back section of the divided box. Also a back up pack can be seen in the side of the drawer (top of pic) in the pic just below.

I do collect other glues - I say collect because I use tacky so much of the time is seems like a collection more than a supply.  I keep the unused glue bottles and stain all in a drawer for whenever I need it.  This is just a corralling them into the same place sort of solution and it works for me.  
This drawer also includes large bottles of paint and my odd collection of various other liquid media, like snow-tex, and two part epoxy resin used for making water.
I do periodically go through my glues to see which ones are still usable.  In this case, I throw away any that can't be used.  
This drawer is in a 3 drawer cart.  The top drawer contains other media that are bulky; like big bag of celluclay, plaster cloth and clean up supplies.  Sort of a misc type drawer but related to the type of projects I do with the other supplies in the drawers.
The bottom drawer has my spray paint cans, spray adhesive and glue guns.  
I don't recommend spray adhesive as a general rule.  I haven't used it a long time - might even be dried up. For one it has potential to turn yellow and secondly it is just messy, and has to be sprayed outside also.
I don't use the glue gun much for minis.  I used it a long time ago to add shingles to a 1:12 scale house.  Then later on I learned that glue gun glue doesn't hold up long term in humidity.  Well up to that point I didn't have issues with humidity in my house, but at some point I did.  Fortunately it didn't affect that house, but I did remove the shingles and re-glue using wood glue.  
Today I do use the glue gun to add feet to the bottom of projects so they don't scratch furniture.  To do this, I apply the glue to the bottom of the project and then press against glass.  Once cool I carefully slide a flat knife (like the palette knife above) under to get it off the glass. 

Come back tomorrow for another organizing idea during my 31 days of organizing.

Happy Miniature Organizing!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Smoothing it Over - Day 19 of 31 Days of Organizing

After the Cutting we may need to sand or file, so I'm talking about storing these tools and supplies.

I don't really have that many of these supplies, but since it was something that is a needed tool in miniatures, I wanted to talk about.
I have a drawer full of various sandpapers that I bought new or got from at a yard sale of another miniaturist's items.  In this same drawer are a set of larger files and also some sanding blocks. This big drawer isn't really organized beyond having these items in the same place.  That is what is important to me in storing/organizing this type of item.

I love sanding blocks.  I got mine at a beauty supply place.  They usually come in two different grits on three sides.  If I am going to do lots of sanding, I will likely grab these.
I also use sanding boards of various thicknesses and styles that are intended for doing nails.  I use the regular emery boards and also a newer style that has plastic in the middle.  These have two different grits on them.  Mine are usually grey but could be colorful. I like these newer ones with the plastic as it is like having a sanding block behind it.  
Here is those basic variety sanding tools. Early on I bought a couple of basic shapes of needle files.  Then later on I got a full set.  It is the basic ones in my toolbox.  The full set hangs out in the big drawer. 
I really like having needle files on hand as they can get into some really small spots so basic shapes are a needed tool in my toolbox for working with smaller scales, however they have their uses in larger scales as well.
Sanding  blocks are great for keeping  square as you sand.  They can be as simple as block of wood with sandpaper wrapped around it.  I have made various different tools like this. I typically tape the sandpaper on.  Another type is a block of wood with cuts in it.  Sand paper is cut to shape (width and length enough to wrap around). Then another wood or other piece is pushed in to the cuts to keep the sandpaper in place.  
Here's my toolbox divider box
That long middle section has a variety of sanding tools plus a drilling tool.  It is called a push drill.  But the drill bits aren't here.  Guess something I might want to work on having in here.  Oh and the mess at the bottom of the box, is actually paint from my worktable, not the box itself. 

My solutions for these are all very simple, but... if I were to get more specific, here are some ideas I would consider.
First, sandpaper comes in different grits and if I used a lot of it, I would likely try file folders or even an accordion type file folder case.  Then I could have all the same grit in a folder or section.
My needle file full set came in a flat flexible plastic case, which works fine to hold them. But I have used cases like this before and over time this would potentially not last.  Once it got to that point, I am sure that I would consider just grouping them together in some container.  One that comes to mind that was shared with me recently is the Crystal Lite drink powder type containers. 
Other types of materials can be used for sanding and smoothing.  Steel wool is something is used for roughing up.  Ok, I know this post is about smoothing, but sometimes we use these tools for distressing and steel wool can be used for that.  It goes in my misc sanding drawer.
Paper - like a brown paper for packaging or paper sacks - can be used as a sanding tool after using sandpaper.  It acts as a burnishing type smoothing.  
Cheese cloth is useful for removing sawdust before staining.
A craft knife - wait that is a tool for for cutting.  Well it can be used to smooth things over, too.  Sanding plastic is especially troublesome.  The sanding works but the plastic has a tendency to fray.  That's where the craft knife comes into to use, it can 'smooth out' or remove the fray.  Also sometimes plastic has 'flashing' - this is when it squeezed out between the mold and it leaves a thin extra stuff that I try to remove.
Another smoothing tool - scissors - again with the cutting tools.  When working with smaller scales we don't want to remove too much of the ends which can cause the piece to be too small and the kit doesn't fit properly.  So many kit makers recommend to trim the wood feathers (these are caused by the saw and is just the frayed end of the wood) with scissors to keep the wood piece intact.  

Come back tomorrow for another organizing idea during my 31 days of organizing.

Happy Miniature Organizing!