Petite Chateau - Basement - Kitchen

My vision of the kitchen was very grand but the size of the area changed that vision drastically. I had purchased several kits from variou...

Lessons Learned or Stuff I wish I knew when I started

Lessons Learned or Stuff I wish I knew when I started

...well and some I wish I would really learn and not make yet again...

in no particular order

  • Supply cost - when I first started making miniatures I had been making other crafts for a while. I was also a new mom, so money was tight. I struggled about buying a $8 bottle of gesso. When I look back on the cost of the bottle vs how long it lasted the return on investment (roi) was less than $.50 year. So my lesson is buy the bigger bottle unless...
  • If it is liquid - don't stock pile. This is a tricky one. It depends on cost and whether or not really likelu to use it before it dries up. I recently purchased when on sale - 20 or so bottles of acrylic paint. When I think about the roi - I am not bothered that I might throw away a bottle later that is 3/4 way full. But I don't buy large bottles (of colors) because they will take forever to use.
  • Buy the best you can afford. This is especially true of tools and supplies. See prior points though about the supplies that are liquid. I still have tools I bought 30 years ago. (Although I have added to them over the years.)
  • Compact is not always the best. I have purchased smaller tools as my needs change where I am working in smaller scales. Examples: ruler, mat, scissors, glue bottles. Those are fine. But I purchased a small pliers set and I didn't like them at all. 
  • Speaking of glue bottles - some brands/formulas are not good to buy in bulk. This is where liquid again goes against the rule to buy in bulk. I buy small bottles of tacky glue for portability but one large bottle is fine in my studio. I no longer refill as I found that didn't work for me. I also no longer use tip bottles because frankly I would forget about them and they dry up (even with the special pin in it).
  • Build up supplies over time. Then restock only as needed. 
    • One way to get a bigger variety of supplies is to purchase them as a group. I did this with a group to purchase punched petals. One person ordered for all and then distributed to the rest of us that I paid her to make the order. This does take some effort on their part so consider giving them a swap or something as extra. 
    • Another way is to do a supply swap. I have done this on two different occasions and garnered many different pieces of fabric, landscaping, a variety of bead shapes, colors and sizes in addition to those odd things that maybe I would never had available to me like different size pill packaging. Again, someone has to be a central point to receive them and then distribute.
  • Paint brushes should be rinsed until no more color shows on the rag (or paper towel). Don't leave them sitting in water. Clean them with mild soap and water and shape them before allowing them to dry. I am very hard on brushes, so I do not buy the most expensive. 
    • For basic tasks like painting a wall, I use a larger brush so it goes faster. Details require detail brushes. Since I am mostly painting with acrylic paint, I buy nylon bristle brushes.
    •  I try to use only one particular brush for spreading things like glue that maybe I forget to wash out properly so I ruin a brush. This is when soaking can be ok, just don't leave it for weeks as that water will dry up and then the brush is ruined.
  • Make multiples in an assembly line process. I have done this many times for making swaps. Here is an example. Don't let the steps intimidate. Each step can be done over time so it isn't overwhelming.
  • Replace knife blades often. Or resharpen. I haven't been successful with the latter, but I do have a tool to do so should I ever take the time to really do this. Sharp blades make it easier to cut whatever one is cutting. A dull blade is a safety issue as well as a quality one. It requires more energy to use a dull one which results in working against the material one is cutting. More often than not, a dull blade results in a rough cut of the material. Yes, this is a skill to learn to make smooth cuts. Go slow and take several passes rather than rush and to get 'one and done' type of cut. 
  • Measure twice, cut once. I like to use a permanent marker on my metal rulers so I don't have to figure out what is x/x - the ones not normally marked. Maybe I am lazy, but I hate counting those tic marks. This is especially helpful if needed to mark same size for multiples. The mark on the ruler then can be cleaned off using isopropyl alcohol.
  • I believe in sorting and having a place for things. I have a whole blog on being organized. It helps me to get more done. I would rather save time finding something so I have more time to make something. Not to say I am not messy, because I am. But I know where my tools are and where my supplies for a particular project are. I have project boxes that keep the items I purchase for a project in one place. Items I don't purchase specific also have a place to go. 
  • As I have built up my stash, being organized became even more important. Often when looking for something else, I would find something I could have used in a previous project. But by combining like items and/or colors together, I am more likely to use it. The supply swaps I have done were great, but it was the organizing of them with similar items that gave me the true benefit of those additional items.
  • Safety is important. I have done a few stupid things in my mini making career. Thankfully I wasn't seriously hurt, just a few scratches (once on my arm by a rotary tool) and broken fingernails (when I stupidly used a saw backwards). 
    • I wear safety glasses when I use my rotary tool. 
    • Spray paint outdoors. 
    • Position fingers so they don't get cut. 
    • An eraser is a good push tool with an electric saw. 
    • Use a mat to cut on so I don't ruin a table. 
    • Use good lighting. 
    • Use a designated pan or tile for baking clay on so there is no cross contamination with food items later. 
    • Don't work on stuff when I am really tired.
  • Plan, plan and plan. OK, I confess I don't plan enough. Especially I don't plan enough when it comes to lighting. Then I end up having to make a hole or covering up wires so I can. But I get it, sometimes when designing it yourself, one doesn't have enough figured out to figure out that the lighting can go wherever. Planning can also avoid over thinking/doing. Sometimes I don't figure it out until it is finished that I really was over thinking whatever. 
  • Making a sketch can help make decisions. I have done this for a number of reasons and I have started doing this more often. It can help me decide where the lighting will go, what colors are going to look best, and if the sketch is 1:1 ratio whether I have enough room. 
    • For those who believe they can't draw (it is just like learning to write letters so it is a skill to be learned), the barest simplest sketch will do. 
    • Using graph paper (if don't want to buy this, then look for images on the internet and print out, or use lined paper and draw perpendicular lines) to make a floor plan is a good start. 
    • To determine colors I like to use colored pencils although markers would work as well. I make a line drawing of whatever it is - dresser front, chair, etc. It doesn't need to be accurate so cartoonish is fine. 
    • For lighting, this likely gives me the idea of how many is needed or wanted and how to run them from one point to the other where they connect to the battery.
  • KITS - I absolutely love kits. 
    • I love them because someone else has supplied me with what I need. 
    • They have done the figuring out that sometimes challenges me (see above about lighting). 
    • They often supply just the right amount of product needed which means less investment. Although occasionally things must still be bought - paint, special glue or whatever. But more frequently they include what is needed. 
    • They also often teach a new skill or technique. One example is it can teach one about designing one's own projects. Different kit makers do things differently. For example a house kit maker uses a wall piece for both floors versus a long piece that is folded for the entire floor to make the wall. 
    • Trying a new skill or technique using a kit is an excellent way to determine if you are willing to repeat that process. 
    • It can also make one appreciate the time and effort that a seller has put into a miniature and why it costs so much. A perfect example is dolls and food. I've tried making food and mainly colors didn't turn out right. Dolls - WOW, some are so lifelike they need to be watched to see if they aren't real.
  • KITS - why I sometimes hate them. 
    • The supplies provided are just what is needed. This means that if I ever want to make something like it, I don't have it in my stash. OK, so I purchase that whatever. 
    • The other reason I sometimes hate them is that many others do them and mine could look nearly identical to the instructor or these other people. Now this can be good or bad. 
    • I do tend to change them to be different. That can get me into BIG TROUBLE because I get frustrated and then leave it be for a long time. Most often I end up doing it similar as the kit maker designed once I finally get back to it. This bothers me at the level of wanting to be unique or a rebel that can kit bash and make it better (or just different). 
    • When I do try to kit bash, not only do I get frustrated if it doesn't go well, also I could break something and then can't complete the kit. Kits cost money and I hate to waste it. (Although most kit makers will replace broken pieces, this is a courtesy and not something to take advantage of. Or if I wait years to make it, they may no longer be around or have the ability to replace something even if they are willing.) 
    • Yet another reason, to 'hate' kits is that the kit maker's instructions are not clear to me. There is a language barrier in that how they write it is not the same way I would write it. Pictures can overcome this but not always. 
    • So when building a kit is is important to do a test fit whenever possible. 
    • Try to determine which is the front or back side. 
    • Always read all the way through the instructions to have an idea of when things will be done. One of my tendencies is to think there is a better time to do something (like lighting) and they can get me in trouble and then I have to take it apart to fix my (cocky) mistake. 
I will add to this list as I think (or learn) of others. Feel free to comment on this page any lesson you have learned or wish you knew starting out.

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