Workshops and Organization

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Dremel: Home Depot gives Dremel lessons. They will even do a group class for your mini club; just call them if there's one near you. Or, try their website:

Stacey Torres

Storing Wood: The grocery stores will give boxes, as we all know, but the miracle came when I saw a Wesson Oil box. 24 slots, and the back slots can be folded in to accommodate larger wood pieces. I made a printed chart (in duplicate) of each size and wood type available so I also have a copy on my desk.
Now, if I can just come up with something a bit smaller to house the dowels I seem to have accumulated.

Marian in New Bern, NC

Storage: I store wood pieces such as clapboard etc in keyboard boxes. I get them from the IS Dept. at work. I store dowels, trims, mouldings etc in Pringle and coffee cans. I have a large square tin box I throw in all those little pieces of wood. Key is to remind myself to look in these storage places!!!

Marsha in Newark, CA

Adjustable Work Surface: do you know that your ironing board makes a perfect work bench adjustable height so you can lower it down for good height etc & a washable cover too, what do you need to iron anyway just think another place to spread to. A perfect excuse not to iron. It takes up precious miniaturists’ time anyway.  (don't forget, hide the laundry)


Adjustable Work Surface: I also use an ironing board as my work table. My reason is that because of back trouble, I can't sit for very long at a time. But I can stand and work at that table (at highest level) for hours. I do have another ironing board for if I actually break down and iron something. I got some pieces of cotton fabric in a box of remnants, and I put a piece over the board and don't worry about getting glue or paint on it. I just throw it in the wash after a while. I apply glue a lot with a needle, and to clean the needle, I just stick it into the fabric and slide it back out again. Works great. Because it's padded underneath, it's great for fragile stuff, almost like working on a long flat pin cushion.

Paulette in IN

Organization: Oh, that dreaded word! And those of you who know me know I've been picking away at this for a LONG, LONG time...However, have come up with a couple things that are helping...

I had some spare ceiling tiles around so hung one (so far) on the wall and have been putting a lot of my teeny supplies (beads, etc.) in mini ziploc bags and pushpinning them to the ceiling tile. Everything is visible at a glance.

Today was getting frustrated because I didn't what to just put all the small pieces of fabric in a box. Then I spotted a box of sheet protectors from another full-size project. So I put the fabric, some papers from the scrapbook store, pieces of felt, etc., in the sheet protectors and into a binder. Everything is visible, nice and flat and dust-free.

Maureen in Canada

Paint Storage: I wanted to buy the white plastic covered wire paint carousel at Michael's but even on sale at $39.99 it felt a little too expensive for me to hold crafts that I've already spent too much on!! So I started saving my empty toilet paper rolls (cut in two) and empty paper towel holder rolls (cut in three pieces). Then making sure they sat flat on a surface, glued the sides all together until you have enough to fill a sturdy box (covered mine in contact paper). The bottles of craft paint stand up nicely in these and as suggested by SS'er) I put a little dab of the corresponding paint on the lid of each. Works great for me & I can see all the colors, too many :) at a glance!


Organizing hints: I am in the process of organizing yet again. Paper work, kit instructions, magazine cutouts, and business cards, etc., in three-ring binders in plastic pages. Label the books and I really try to keep them up-to-date. Not always successfully, of course.

Then I use plastic shoe boxes for mini items which won't break easily. I label each box with a sticker, and it works for me. The hardest box is of course the "misc" box which also holds "stuff." But I also use larger plastic boxes for the furniture I have - by category, like "kitchen," "bathroom," or "dressers," "Beds." It works for quite a while, and then I find I may have been in a hurry and stuffed an item in the wrong box. Or I got a new supply of something and didn't file it at all. I have been collecting/saving minis for years and so I have, umm, lots.

But I find the plastic shoe boxes and larger boxes an excellent way to store - - on shelves and in stacks. Also, the divided boxes for teeny tiny items which might get lost or broken in the larger boxes. As for books, I am starting a data-base for all my dollhouse books and catalogs so I can find the one I want easily. Helpful, too, when I KNOW I have a book and it turns out I don't - I borrowed it from the library and returned it! God bless my senior moments!

Gail Green (no 'e')

Storing beads: I have really gotten addicted to glass beads and findings. Golly, they are like gold. Pour them in the tub and I'll bathe in them!

My friend, Marja, just sent me a batch of glorious beads and findings from England. I was running out of space for easily reached containers so this is what I did. I purchased a small computer desk on wheels. I assembled it. When finished I placed two plastic containers (like a fisherman uses for lures) on the pull out tray that would normally hold the keyboard. I got some short screws and screwed them into place so that when the tray is pulled out the box lids can open upright.

On the table top itself I placed more plastic containers and screwed them into place. Now I can sit at my work table, pull the computer table over to my side and have all my beads easily at hand. If the cats, God forbid, should jump up there, the containers will not go flying and sending beads all over the house.

Kate Henry

Eyestrain: I just purchased a GE reveal light bulb. All I could find was a food light with a medium base. I got a 50 watt for the small clamp light I have that shines light over my left shoulder. It is clamped onto my wing chair (not a decorator's choice, but it works). Boy, does this make a difference. The light is not yellow, it seems to be whiter more like natural light. I have always found it easier to work on a sunny day but not in direct sunlight. This light feels like I am sitting in strong natural light with out being directly in the sun.

I should explain that I do mini crochet with fine threads and .4, .5, and .6 mm hooks. I need good light just to be able to see my work let alone deal with eye strain. I have been using this new light bulb for two days now and I really like it. I am working longer and faster. Also, the work suddenly seems easier. But I still have to work out how to see the "holes" working with super fine silk.

Lee Ann

Magnification: Eons ago when I took my first piece of petitpoint with me for my annual eye exam, the doctor recommended a magnifying lamp with the light underneath the magnifier to light up the work. He said the light was equally, if not more important than the magnification because you could see much better with proper light. So I did that.

Next visit I brought in a piece I had worked on 72 count and told him that after a few hours my eyes bothered me a bit with this. He said to wear reading glasses from the drug store and get whatever strength was necessary to easily see (with the magnifying lamp) without straining.

Also he said, stitching while "watching" television was good because the looking up, refocusing, looking down, refocusing, was good exercise for your eyes. The amazing thing was that stitching several hours a day for many years, under the proper conditions, IMPROVED my eyesight and my prescription (nearsighted) had to be lessened 3 or 4 times over a period of years. In the 6 years that I didn't stitch at all, my prescription had to be made stronger. Moral: Use whatever it takes to see without strain, BUT be sure your work surface has the proper light!


Eye Strain: Don't forget that you need to BLINK once in awhile while sitting at the computer and reading masses of SS digests and other mini info and also when you are concentrating on something under a magnifying glass. Eyes tend to dry out and cause all sorts of problems otherwise. Staring without blinking when concentrating becomes a bad habit for computer and hobby people.


Cleaning Up Acrylic Paint: I just started a painting class (not miniatures) and we're using acrylic paints. I was told to get some Wet Ones for cleaning up paint. We started out painting on a slateboard with wooden frame, and I got some unwanted paint on the slate and the Wet Ones cleaned it off with very little elbow grease. Worked great!


Design Center: This is a good one. We have a new club member. She has only been doing miniatures since October but even with a full time job has she ever been busy. She organizes!

She says she puts together a Design Center for each room in the dollhouse she is working on. Just cuts a cardboard box to the same size as each room and puts each item in place so she can see if it fits and how things work together. No putting things in and having to take them out again to work on wallpaper or lighting.

Laurie Sisson

Small plastic boxes: Try for small plastic boxes. I am very pleased with them.

Kaye Burlason in Altoona, FL

Storing paint: I store mine in plastic boxes, made to store shoes.   I arrange them by color and store them upside down.  This way I can see the color and the paint doesn't dry out and is always at the top when I need it.   No waiting for it to come out of the bottle.  I also store glue bottles upside down, especially when I'm using them, (put the cap back on, of course).    Another tip for organizing your workroom is to store strip wood, trim and dowels in PVC pipe cut to the length you need.  My husband built an extra deep shelf for me when he made the cabinets in my workroom, the PVC comes in various diameters and I sort the wood by size into the different PVC pipes.  When I open the cabinet door I see just the ends of the PVC and the wood.  I hope that makes sense.

Also if you use a lot of stains, you can stain a scrap of wood the color of the stain in the can and glue it to the lid.  You can see at a glance what color stain is in the can.  Do be aware that different wood will accept the stain differently, but it will be a starting place.

Lillie in Texas

Getting Organized: I've made up some new rules to follow as I get deeper into this hobby:

1. I vow now to keep the clutter and hoarding under control.
2. I vow not to pick up and keep every little piece of junk and save it as a "I might need this".
3. I vow to keep what I do have neat and organized and not allow it go move out of the one room. If it requires more shelving or another large bookcase/wall unit, to give me more shelf space in the little room, then so be it. BUT IT MUST STAY IN ONE ROOM!
4. To complete projects before I buy more and not have them backed up 5, 6 or 10 deep.

To keep this vow I've started organizing better. Instead of buy plastic storage boxes, which usually look ugly, I've taken some cardboard boxes that have separate tops (like the ones reams of computer paper comes in) or boxes that have tops the open like a chest would open, and have used some of the leftover "hoarded" real life wallpaper, and covered the cardboard boxes with some of these pretty wallpapers. Then the supplies can be put into pretty boxes, with similar quot;stuff" in each box, and the boxes look so pretty on the shelves. In this way, if I no longer need the box it can be tossed, cause it didn't cost me anything to make it and I can always make another one. I've done the plastic storage containers thing before and once emptied and not really needed, I then have to store the empty container because I paid for it. Many of you will say that you will never have an empty container, but that is part of the vow, to get rid of what is not really needed! Give it away. Whether its clothes to a woman's shelter, or old crafts that you know you won't want to do again, perhaps give to kids so they can start to learn about making things, whatever it is, to get rid of it if your not going to use it in the next 2 years. (I use the 2 year time period because I really am a hoarder at heart! and often have a 2 year plan when doing real life projects). I've usually been a reasonably organized person, but in the last ten years, I've lost that skill. Now much of it wasn't my fault (many family deaths, so many of their personally belongings to deal with, and much too much of complicated life stuff to go into). Much of it was my fault for not dealing with the problem asap. But what I do know, is once clutter and hoarding creates a huge clutter problem, using up all your closet space etc, once it gets out of control it takes not just weeks and months, but sometimes years to get through it all.

So my next "de-clutter/de-hoarding" project is my large bedroom that has some how collected every "I don't know where to put this thingie". I've also decided on how to deal with items that have been around for far too long! I said this to a group of friends that was talking about clutter and getting rid of stuff and how hard it is sometimes. My new aim is to look at the item and say, "If my house burned down tomorrow, would I really miss this thing!" Yes it was a shock to the group discussion! As it may be for you reading this. But it works. I've been slowly throwing out, cleaning out more stuff.

But I do separate the items into groups:
1) Throw out, 'cause no one will want it or can use it
2) Give to kids (someone elses., lolololol) to play with it
3) Give to women's shelters (even in shelters there are kids that need to play with something and women need clothes, household items or even material, thread etc, for setting up a new home for themselves and their kids, (many of these women get out of bad family situations with just the clothes on their backs)
4) Give to libraries no longer needed books, etc.
5) Give to church garage sales (if its still too good to throw out then someone may buy it at a sale if you don't want to have one yourself)
6) Put an ad in the newpaper, giving away free crafter's stuff or whatever; it will go fast.
7) There is always the old reliable method of putting it out on the front curb of your house with a big sign that says FREE, it always is taken by someone!

Just my thoughts on hoarding and cleaning out. Sorry it was so long, and didn't mean to get into clutter and hoarding so deeply, but you see I already have the makings of a huge "minis hoarder" and need to get it under control!

Darlene / Somerset / NJ

Packaging necklaces: I package necklaces and other small items in round foam backed plastic cases. You can buy them from a jewelry display company and they run about 50 cents each. They come in sizes about 1" wide to around 2" wide. They come in groups of 48 (I think it's 48). They also sell a display tray for these but I don't use that.

One trick I use with these is to turn them upside down. The top is not very deep and comes off easily. I reverse the foam (the "top" of the foam is nicer than the bottom), put the piece on the foam, and then put the bottom of the case on with the top on the bottom.

Carol - S P Miniatures

Credit Card vendor: I use Bright Star Promotions. I love them. They are nice, helpful, pay quickly, and their service is not complicated to use. Yes, they take a fee, and I have to call them long distance for card approvals (only for web and phone orders)--these costs are all deducted as business expenses on my taxes, of course. I get enough additional business that the small inconvenience and cost is certainly worth it.

Jane Walker

Baby food jars uses: This is an idea i've heard about but have never had the jars to try it:
You can make an organizer for small objects with the baby food jars. Get a piece of wood (maybe 1-2" thick and 4 inches wide, and however long you want. Put the lids face up on the piece of wood in a row. (by face up, I mean with the "inside" up.) Drive a nail through the lid into the piece of wood so that the lid is attached. (The sharp nail point should be buried in the wood.) Screw the jars into the lids. Then nail or screw the whole board under a shelf in your workroom so that the jars are hanging down underneath the shelf. You can unscrew the jars, put small objects (beads, etc) in them, and screw them back onto the lid. They're out of the way, you can see what's inside since the jars are clear, and you're using space that would otherwise have been wasted.

Celeste in Boston

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