Friday, March 12, 2010

Storing and Organizing Minis Part 6: Display

This is a temporary display option that I use.  I have some neat things I have collected that are waiting for a home.  I love being able to see them and they aren't collecting dust.  I have just set them on a shelf in the boxes, but then the boxes got dusty and plastic doesnt clean up that well over time. 
This is a cheese dome that I picked up at a thrift store or a yard sale.  It came without a base.  (not sure why these end up with out a base since they are glass and seems to me more likely to break the glass and have an extra base, but that is neither here nor there)  Anyway, I made a base for this out of foam core - two layers one to fit inside the dome and the other the dome can rest on.  I covered the top layer with flooring and painted the bottom layer.
I also added a turntable to the bottom.  I started with just keeping this in my workroom, but later decided that I would enjoy the goodies inside more if it was in my kitchen on the bar.
This cheese dome is under 3" in height inside so a room or two could be built into it instead.  It could be still be a temporary display area but just set up like a room.
I have been thinking that I would like to display some more of my not yet placed items, shelves is what I am thinking about.
This particular dome is a 1/12th scale, but could work in 1/48th as well.
The reason I show this is that a similar type display to this is what I may create to display various 1/48th scale items.  In this example it is actually a permanent location for my bunny collection, but it could easily be  a temporary solution as well. 
Instead of the back being a garden scene, it could be two side or three sides of shelving.

Storing and Organizing Minis: part 5 paper punches

This photo shows the front of my paper punch storage solution.
This is a 3 ring binder that is made like a box.  It is made by a company called unikeep.
It happened to be what I had available but just a regular 3 ring binder would work.
I like it because the binder allows me to insert a printed page in the front to indicate what is in it and it has a latch to keep it closed and things don't slide out.
To make the cover page, I took photos of each page inside and then shrunk them in word to get all on a single page then printed.
Here is an actual page in my binder.
Using a sheet (page)  protector, I inserted a sheet of white paper.  Then I sorted every last one of my paper punches by shape and color into small zip bags.  The zip pages are then taped to the sheet protector.
I also have dividers in the binder for each section which helps with lifting the pages to keep them from bending and the zip bags flipping up.
The dividers I am using happen to be plastic and therefore see-thru, but that is not necessary.
I have one page for each color family. 

Early attempts to store these were in divided boxes (actually a dental tray) that had many pockets.  A few times I accidently bumped it and the punches got mixed up.  I didn't like that so I switched to baggies.  Sorting through them to find a particular shape or color was why I wanted to a different solution.  A box with sections for the baggies would be an acceptable alternative to a binder. I just happen to like being able to quickly examine the available punches in a paricular color.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Storing and Organizing Minis part 4 - Wallpaper and Rugs

These solutions I am currently using are for 1/48th scale miniatures.

 This photo shows the 1/48th scale wallpaper in photo sleeves.  these sleeves happen to fold which gives twice the space.  I have them in a standard three ring binder.
In addition the photo sleeves I have used some full size page protectors for various other pieces of wallpaper that is 8 1/2 inch x 11 inch or smaller but not as small as the photo sleeves.
This second photo shows the same binder with pages for storing rugs and quilts.  First I used a full sheet page protector.  the white sheet is just a plain piece of paper that I have used double sided temporary tape to attach the rug or quilt. 
I grouped the rugs by color and theme.
When I find a rug I want to use, I can easily remove the page and peel off the rug and slide the white sheet back into the page protector.
All of the components I am using in this storage solution are recycled, but they should be easily found online from a office supply store.  The photo sleeves came out of a photo album that was a three ring binder but was narrower than a standard binder and is why the fold over.  Certainly other photo albums could repurposed for similar storage solution.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Storing and Organizing Minis part 3: totefavors/swaps/finished items

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.
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. In the cases wehre 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.
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.
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 seperating that item from it's packaging which goes in my swap boxes by type or theme.
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.
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.

Organizing and Storing Minis part 2: paint and beads

More Storage solutions I am using:
This photo shows my paint storage. I cut down laundry detergent boxes to fit the acrylic paint bottles I have. Then I covered them in contact paper to make them pretty and clean. I like to store things by color, so my paint is an excellant example of this. I have them grouped by similar colors so my reds, pinks and oranges are together, but I also group them as to what fits in the boxes. an example of that is having my yellow and greens together, because that is what fits. I also label the ends so I can quickly pull a box from the shelf to find the color family I am going to use. Note that I do store my paint upside down but also right side up. by that I mean that about every three to four months I flip them over. Before I had these shelves, these boxes were stacked two high on another shelf. Two high seemed to be a good idea because it wasn't so bad to grab both and put back the one I didn't need at the moment.
I do have some other paint that is stored in some drawer cart type drawers. I rarely use the other paint and it is larger bottles. My spray paint is also in a same cart laying on their side. Nothing special about being on their side, just how they fit into that particular drawer. Also they are the heavy stuff, so they go in the bottom drawer to not affect the cart. Secondly, I also don't use it that much so it goes in the furthest to reach spot.
Beads and Findings
This bead box shows my second stage storage solution for beads. I started with a drawer that had all these smaller boxes inside the drawer. In this early solution i was constantly finding that I was having to repack this drawer to get everything to fit. Well darn that isn't very efficient so I looked at what I else I could do.
I came up with a box (covered in contact paper) and trays. These trays are from the boxes that transparencies came in. I used both the top and bottom of these boxes. If you don't have these type boxes available, then make your own from cardboard to fit inside the larger box.
I also have tabs on each end to make it easy to lift a tray out. I really like being able to see everything in one tray instead of 'digging' through smaller boxes in the drawer.
This next photo shows my third stage storage solution. It is just a verision 2.2 if you will. I had been using these small square boxes that again I happen to get from work, but can be found on the web. They are a two piece hinged box. I had been saving them for something (don't really know what) but recently decided i would use as many as I had or needed to sort out my beads.
I previously had been using some daily/weekly pill containers. I got these at a thrift store and I was happy with them except I couldn't see through the lid. That is what I like about the square boxes is the clear lid. In this case their bottoms are black so I put a small square of white paper in the bottom to make it easier to see the beads and the bead colors.
I also did a complete overall organizing all the beads and findings by color. Again this goes back to a session of looking through boxes and trying to find all the red ones. By color and similar size, makes finding what I need more efficient.
I am left with one tray that does not have the small square boxes and that is slightly larger boxes that the beads don't fit the smaller ones. I also use the slightly larger together as they are thicker.
If I didn't have so many of these smaller boxes, then I would not have sorted by size and color more likely just color. In some cases, I do have several types of beads in the same box because I only have a few of each of the sizes but similar color and type.
If I didn't have these small boxes, then I would consider anything I had available. I also would suggest that preference is individual containers were possible or with individual lids. That is why I liked the pill containers. A box that is divided but one lid is more likely to get mixed up.

Storing and Organizing Supplies, Tools and other stuff for Miniaturing

I have few things to keep in mind when organizing anything.
  1. Keep it simple. The more complex your system, the harder it will be to keep it up.
  2. Use what you have until you can afford or obtain something else to use.
  3. Being organized makes you more efficient - which means more time to mini overall.
  4. Organization takes time, messes don't happen overnight and getting organized won't either (unless you have so little to store, then you are practically organized anyway)
  5. Use the smallest container you can to hold all related items
  6. Keep like items together, this might be by type of tool, type of material, theme or by color are some examples.

When we consider how much time we have for minis (I work full time, so I might can carve out a whole weekend or just a few hours a week) we don't want to spend our time finding what we need. I suggest that you do take some time to make it easier to find what you want to use.

Step one is to identify how much time you have to mini and therefore devote to organizing. If you have a lot of time, you might consider takes several hours and doing some organizing. However if you are more like me and don't have but a few hours a week, then I suggest you pick something - anything and plan on organizing that for 15 - 30 minutes. If this means that you do nothing but sort into big boxes, paint all in one box, wood all in a second, all fabric, all wallpaper, etc, do that.

The second part of Step One is to do minis. This way you won't feel cheated because all you did with your mini time was to organize. If you are on that limited time budget, then by all means do not drag out everything, (unless that is the only way you are going to find all the _____ fill in the blank), even it is to just decide that you want to paint this so-so color, look through a magazine or to put together a round table kit. Focus on doing minis for the majority of your mini time. Then come back to the organizing.

Step Two is to identify what you have to use as storage solutions. I will show you my current solutions, but these are just examples of what I have. I am not suggesting you go buy all new stuff (well unless you really have the money to do so and then I am jealous). I really do recommend to use what you have and add other solutions as they become available to you.

Step Three is to identify what space you have for storing. The smaller space the more important to use smaller containers to avoid 'air' which is unused space. One thing to keep mind about the space you have also is how easy it will be to get to the storage solutions you choose. I have learned the hard way that - everything might fit but if I can't get to ___ then it is not the best solution. So when you think about this step, also think about putting things you use less often in the places it is harder to reach or get to.

By identifying what you have to store and what you currently have to store it in and where, you will know better what direction to take when you are looking for new solutions.

What I am currently using:

This pic shows how I store small bits of wood. I have two divided plastic boxes (fishing tackle type boxes) without the lids. These particular boxes have 4 long sections that can be divided into smaller sections. I have been able to collect quite a few of these boxes from where I work (lids were broke or they are cracked is why I was able to get them) but I have seen them at Walmart and Hobby Lobby.

I used to store all my scrap wood in a bin but when I wanted to use it I was constantly dumping the bin and sorting through it to find something I might use. Then often as not, I couldn't find what I wanted and would use a bigger piece. Then as I was putting back in the bin, I might run across what I wanted to begin with. I finally figured out that I should take the time to sort by shape and length and I customized this box with the dividers to fit what I needed.

The second box that is in the actual drawer holds longer pieces. Below the second box are sheets that fit in the drawer. I then have two other places that I store wood. One is for really long pieces of trim and molding. It is a cardboard box that I got and holds most of the rest of my wood. (I do have one other spot that i store large pieces that don't fit here but that is because of size and less use.) Notice I have some round tubes in front of this box. Before I had this long box, i used cardboard tubes in a box with other round long things such as wallpaper and a yardstick. Now that I make mostly 1/48th scale miniatures, I don't have as much long pieces so I can fit everything in this long box. But the round tubes are just as good. I got mine from wrapping paper.