Computers and The Internet

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When I dressed a doll for my light house as a Merchant Marine Officer, I looked up Merchant Marine on a search engine. I then used "save as"on the pictures of the buttons and insignia I wanted. I Reduced them in size, then glued them on card touched them up with a tiny bit of gold paint and cut them out and behold-- Authentic Uniform!   Good luck. I did the same thing with   campaign ribbons.


Looking for Anything:  Use good old "" and search under both Web and Images and you will find more than you ever wanted to know!  EVERYONE should bookmark Google.  You have no idea of the information available on the Internet that this search engine can produce!

Bobbie Schoonmaker, IGMA Fellow

Printing wallpaper: Firstly, to get wallpaper, or any full-size printie into the right scale, you would first download the picture and save it. Then insert the picture into a Microsoft Publisher document. Publisher enables you to decrease the size of the object/picture (or expand it if need be) to whatever size you want, and the rulers on the left and top of the page are a great help. Once you have the object the right size, you just have to print it.This leads to your next question re printing 11" wallpaper. Here I would make a copy of the picture in the file you have saved it in so that you have two. Using suitable software (I use ArcSoft Photo Studio 2000) you can then open the copy picture and crop it so that the piece you are left with can be added to the bottom of the original wallpaper (here you have to take care to ensure you don't crop off too much and that the pattern matches).

You would then go into Publisher, insert your original wallpaper and then insert the second cropped section of wallpaper below it, print and TA DA!

Another alternative is to print your own from scratch, either by scanning real wallpaper/wrapping paper or whatever and downsizing it, or you might find something on the Net. I'm a William Morris devotee and the dolls house I'm currently decorating is a Late Victorian one. I papered a couple of rooms with shop-bought wallpaper but wasn't entirely happy because I wanted something really special. Then, in my quest for the ultimate wallpaper, I discovered that quite a few William Morris sites have samples of his wallpaper, even giving the pattern repeat which means you can downsize the sample to a perfect 1/12 (in my case) scale. Before inserting the samples into a Publisher document, downsizing, and then copying and pasting to fill a page, some of the samples had to be cropped so that the pattern could be properly repeated. The result is that I now have done three rooms in William Morris wallpaper, and am working on the fourth, and now that I have fuzzy paper, I can complete the look with carpets. I'm in heaven!

Heather Heatherbee Miniatures, Perth, Western Aust

Scanning: I've noted some of your disappointment about printouts... and your questions about scanning. There are differences between the on-screen display of an image, the image resolution and the print resolution. I can recommend a book on this topic: "The Non-Designer's Scan and Print Book" by Sandee Cohen and Robin Williams. I found it very useful. After scanning, a good image editing program can work wonders. I have Photoshop. It's a bear to learn, but it can do anything! There is also a Photoshop LE edition that looks a lot easier and can do the basics of image editing.

Kathy from Tustin

Ebay Searches:

The best way to search is not using categories, in my humble opinion.    I search for 'Dollhouse' alone   and then  'miniature' alone, because not all listings use both  "dollhouse" and "miniature" in their descriptions.  Since I'm not interested in plastic, I put     -plastic     in my search.   

Do you know that you can SAVE favorite searches, and you can even save favorite SELLERS?    Yup!  And it's easy to do.   A minus sign in your search means you don't want that word.    Here's a sample of a search I have saved on ebay (under the "my ebay" section):    dollhouse   -fisher -Barbie -playmobil -playskool -tykes -tikes -turkish -hallmark -plastic

I have several of these set up, so when I want to search, I go to MY EBAY page (which is bookmarked), click on MY FAVORITES and then simply click one of the searches or sellers that I've saved,  and voila!    It's there.    So very simple, instead of typing in all those minus signs for the stuff I don't want.

If looking for a particular item, use "dollhouse" and   the item, for example: dollhouse chairs.     Be careful, because singular/plural can make a difference. I find that searching several times is more efficient than looking through thousands of items on a more general search.    Make use of the "words to exclude" box, if your search gives you too many items you're not interested in.   I rarely click the "search title and description" box, however, it does come in handy sometimes.

I've been buying/selling on ebay for years (over 1000 items) and never felt I was cheated.  I don't sell dollhouse items (I just buy, buy buy!), but I do make custom mouse pads.  I've even made mouse pads for people with their favorite dollhouse pictured on them!   Be sure to ask questions of the seller before bidding, if you have any doubts.    Just use common sense.  There are so many shortcuts available on ebay, and it really boggles my mind when I see people here complaining about going through pages and pages,   to find something, or to get where they want to be, because they don't have time! ::laughing::     Those who really want to save time will take the time ONCE to set things up instead of going through all those pages and all that typing every time they visit ebay.  Those who really don't want to save time, won't do it - they'll just keep complaining about it.    ::smile::    It's really not difficult and you certainly do not need to be a computer nerd to get it done.  Plus,   I'm even willing to help you!   How's that?  No, I'm not a stockholder!   ::grin::  

I just love the excitement of winning an auction or finding something that I need without going outside my door.   And, I enjoy helping people save time, because once it's gone, we can't get it back.  

Cecile near Philadelphia

eBay searching techniques:   I also do not use categories to search, as sometimes you find something in a category that you would not have thought of.  Like you, I use words.   I use the Advanced Search feature and I also select the option to search in titles and descriptions.   This can pull up many more listings to wade through, but I feel it is more  likely to find the odd thing that someone else might not prioritise in the same way that you would.   I also feel that it is better if you are looking for a set of words, as the seller might not put all of them in the title.  For example, if I was looking for a kit for a working miniature table lamp, a title might just list "Miniature lamp kit" but use the words "working" and "table" in the text.   I usually do not put any other limitations on the search.

I also try and search using synonyms and different spellings.   For example, you could search "dollhouse", "doll house", "dolls house" and "dollshouse".  Common mis-spellings too, such as "Realife" and "Reallife" for those super kits.

Wendy in Clinton, NJ

Another way to search ebay...I have been reading with interest all of the posts about techniques used to search ebay.  I have learned that you can search many words simultaneously, yet independently.   Example:  instead of doing five different searches for "dollhouse", "dollhouses", dolls house" "mini" and "miniatures" you can type it like this: (dollhouse, dollhouses, dolls house, mini, miniatures)

Use the parentheses.   Do not use quotes.   Separate by using commas (spaces after or before commas don't seem to affect the search)

Ebay will search for items containing any or all of those words.   Therefore you may find an auction that has "dollhouse miniatures" in it, and others that may only have the word dollhouse.

I found that this really helps cut down on the number of searches I have to do.


Helpful hints on FAVORITES: Some people here don't seem to make use of their "Favorites", so I thought I'd do a quickie on that first. 

You should   you have a folder in your FAVORITES   where you can keep all your

SmallStuff / Miniatures/ Dollhouse websites.  "Favorites" is across the top of your Internet Explorer screen...  look for

File    Edit   View   Favorites    Format   Tools, etc.     If you don't want to jump back & forth from Explorer to this note, print this out and then get into your browser (Internet Explorer) and do this:

 - click  FAVORITES

 - click  Organize Favorites (2nd from the   top)

 - click  Create Folder

 - type in  a SmallStuff   (or a miniatures    or     a dollhouses . )

   If you use the  'a'   in front, it will be at the top of your favorites because they're stored in alpha-order.  

 - near the bottom right of your screen, you'll see what you're typing.   

 - Press the ENTER key and you're done.     You can close that box. 

- -   Now - go to a site you'd like to save in that folder.    Need a site?    How bout  Jeanette's?    click on this link and you'll be there:

 Of course, if you're working from a printout,  you can't very well click on it, can you?  ::smile::

When you get there

 - click  Favorites

 - click  Add to Favorites

 - a box will open up and you should see the new folder you just created.   

 - But wait !   Look at the long white box that says: Name:  Index    (it's right above the list of folders)

   Is that name going to remind you what this site is?    Probably not.  

   If the name of the site doesn't seem like it will jog your memory in the future, you can name it anything you want!    Cool?

Here's how to do that.  

 - Click in the white part of that "Name" box and delete what's in there.   Then type in anything you want to call that site - something that works for you.   If you put Jeanette's website in your favorites,  the name is going to say:  Index because that's what Jeanette named her first page.   So - in order for YOU to remember what the site really is,   change the Name (in the Name box)  to Jeanette or something you'll remember.    Got it?  

 - Click on your new folder (in the large white box), because that's where you want to save this link,  and then click on OK   (top, right).    It will save that website address in your new folder.    !    

Now - whenever you visit a site that you know you'll be looking for next week, just save it in your Favorites, in your special folder.    I have folders for SmallStuff,  Recipes, Ebay, etc.   Make as many as you need.    And, you can even make a folder IN a folder!      Under my SmallStuff folder, I have sub-folders for Dollhouses,  Pintables,   Lighting,  Walls n Floors,   Tips.       

We all want to be organized, but don't seem to want to take the time to do it. I have found that spending an hour going through the last 25 digests trying to find that great site I visited last week, is NOT a good use of my time.   I'd much rather put the site in my Favorites, where I know I can find it in a few seconds.     If you have no further need for that site, you can always delete it from your Favorites. 

Clutter anywhere is nothing but confusing and time consuming.  I know that for a fact because I have boxes and boxes of miniature stuff that I labeled correctly, but I usually spend much too long looking for that one little item I need. That's because, when I'm cleaning up, I often just throw everything into the wrong box!   So you can see that I don't always practice what I preach!  Now that I've implicated myself, maybe  I'll go un-clutter that mess!

Cecile near Philadelphia

A suggestion for mini stores:       I have been having an idea exchange with a mini store about the qualities I look for in a resale shop from an artist/buyer viewpoint. They liked one of those ideas and suggested I pass it along here on SSD. Soooooo- - - - -

A service that would be very nice at local miniature stores (or shows in towns without mini stores) would be a mini photo studio complete with good lighting, backdrops and/or settings, a quality (macro) camera, knowledgeable photographer, and PC with Internet access.

Keep in mind that many miniers do NOT have all the facilities at home to take top quality photographs. I, for one, simply have not yet learned how to download pics from my camera and put them out to the net. I picture this service as being a free service for customers if pics are limited to digital format. A reasonable charge world be appropriate if film were used in a film camera to generate negs and prints for potential publication. Customer provides own disc or CD blank if digital copy wanted.

       Potential advantages to the shop could be- - - -

  1. Good will
  2. Get customers to bring in their projects for pic (shop while there?)
  3. Encourage increased enthusiasm to complete projects
  4. Generate a rogues gallery of local talent achievements
  5. Help establish or encourage loyalty. ("Would you take free pics of this mini I made with materials from Michael's?")

       Benefits to customers could be - - -

  1. Top quality photographs for records, scrap books, snail and e-mail letters
  2. Pics of achievements on display for friends and neighbors to see
  3. A way for the PC illiterate to get their projects out to galleries, lists, or auction sites.
  4. Increased traffic (& hopefully business) to assure the longevity of the local mini emporium.
  5. Print quality photographs for articles submitted to publications (with appropriate credits to mini shop/photographer) (You pay for film/processing but not necessarily a full 24 exposure roll of portrait quality film)

Mel K. In Las Vegas

Mini Photos: I think that's a great idea... but there should be a charge.   The photographer has to be paid... the camera has to be purchased ... the picture taking area does use up room (that could otherwise display merchandise for sale)... and I think that mini shops are having a very hard time making ends meet without additional expenses.  

But which one of us wouldn't be willing to pay for a very good picture when we need one??   I love the idea!   Or... just offer a free picture for every $100 purchase made at the shop... or in some other way to help the shop to cover the expense of providing that service.


Creating   a webpage: HTML stands for hyper text mark-up language...basically the idea that at its very simplest, you're just modifying whatever text you want on your webpage w/ a simple language. I tend to think that people make it seem more difficult than it really is by references to all sorts of things that may or may not actually be a part of webpage design and it can be simple to learn. At its simplest, you decide you want to make some text lead to another page, so you mark off that text w/ a tag or code that tells that text to be a link. If you still want to give it a shot, try    I really like their approach.  

In any case, using software is always a good option and can be faster. Which program do you have? Not all are easy to use! :) Also, try typing "web page templates" into a search engine and you can find basic, pre-designed templates that will have some sort of structure and probably some graphics. For this, try   and templates.htm    These will need modification (You may already have Netscape Composer, which can do this) and are very simple. You're welcome to privately email me w/ specific questions regarding your program, designing your page, or whatever you want.  

Regarding the cost of having someone else do it, it can totally vary. However, esp. if you want your webpage for business reasons, you can find companies that specialize in small businesses or people who aren't interested in a lot of bells and whistles, so can be cheaper.  

Anyway, I'm sorry for the length of this post. I even cut out some stuff! :)   Basically, I wanted to assure you that it's not as hard as it looks.

Heidi in Colorado

Creating   a webpage: If you go to   and on the left it will say Primers, under that click on HTML. It will walk you through how to make a web site. It has everything you need in easy, step by step instructions. I've made 3 of my own personal web sites using information from that web site.


Web design: For the question about Web Design and how much it costs etc.   I have to highly recommend the talents of Anne Gerdes, who is also one of the moderators of this Digest.   She not only is an expert at design but she knows many things that will help you be successful.   Her charges are very reasonable - she works very quickly and you will NOT be disappointed.   I learned more from her in my initial conference call with her than I ever could have on my own.   She is Wonderful !!   

If you want your money's worth give her an opportunity.   (She doesn't pay me to say this either)   You can access her site  

Jean in Seattle

Web Site design: I also can recommend our own Anne Gerdes!   Even with my 'slowness' in getting data to her, she never griped at me (OK, there were a couple of teasers - LOL) and did a terrific job.   I consider her fee an investment in my business...and I take my business quite seriously :)   Anne can update and make changes in a flash...far, far faster than me buying software, then taking months to properly learn how to use it...again, worth the cost when compared to the time I'd spend not making my products, just to learn software.

Just wish she was a bit slower in sending the bills !   LOLOL!

Laura in OKC

Unusual printies site has "How To's":  a nice woman named Barbara Del Duco sent me her site. It's different than some I've seen, because it has a lot of "How To's" for assembling the printies into different things (dresses, top hats, curtains, box kites)  They have a really neat looking 1940's kitchen set. I imagined printing it out to fabric, and giving it a coat of mod podge, duplicating it to look like an old fashioned oilcloth! She's got mini directions, printies for a picnic hamper, too, but my favorite   was her printie diner menus. I've never seen them before. Check it out


Virus Protection: I have been out of circulation thanks to that virus - and when I installed the brand new out-of-the-box Norton's, presumed all was well.   Went to clear out my 139 e mails waiting for me (121 of them saying -you've got a VIRUS!!!) and couldn't understand why Norton kept popping up a message saying "Checking your outgoing mail", when I knew I hadn't sent anything. When it dawned on me...... aaarrrggghhhh.. OMIGOD.   It's still sending out virus laden messages. Because, of course, the out-of-the-box Norton's did not have the latest virus definitions - did it? Duh.   So be warned. Get the latest and then go and fetch the latest on line.!!!   Enough on the V word.

Barbara B from South Africa

Disk space and backup: With respect to your desire to have more than one backup of your catalog (and who can blame you!), have you thought of trying an online, off-site disk storage service like:

I have an account with them, but used their free services for several months. We needed a huge space for graphics files and purchased one of their GIG packages last year. Anyway, its been a real lifesaver on several fronts. First of all you have a safety backup outside your workspace, you can send other folks to the site to download large files, eliminating the restrictions on email attachments and share large files with other members along with friends and colleagues.

Deborah (in Hollywood)

Researching pictures online. Here are easy directions:
Go to:

click on the 'images' tab at the top of the screen. Type what you are looking for in the box, or use advanced search, which provides a more narrowed search and is easy to use!

Alice Zinn

What I've done with pretty papers that I wanted to use for upholstery fabric on chairs and such is to scan the paper and then in whatever software you have to use, size it if it needs to be to a smaller scale, and then print it onto the transfer paper that is used for photo transfers (to fabric) like tee shirts and quilts. That paper is available in many stores - WalMart, Best Buy, Office Depot and others. This not at all hard to do. The one trick I learned over the years is to use a ceramic tile (you can go to a tile shop and buy just one tile - if you do this get a large one and make sure it has a smooth surface) and NOT an ironing board for the pressing surface. Also be sure to follow the mfgs instructions for time and heat setting. Another trick is when you put the transfer down onto the fabric, fold back a tiny part of one corner - this will give you a "handle" to hold on to when you peel back the paper. Then when you are ready to peel the paper off the fabric, just peel back a little bit to make sure the transfer really "took". If it didn't just smooth the transfer paper back and press more. If you just yank the transfer paper off, and the image hasn't transferred evenly, or completely it is nearly impossible to get the transfer paper back in proper place. Some fabrics take to this better than others and generally speaking, the natural fibers work best; like cotton, linen, silk and such. When using a light colored fabric or a delicate fabric it is a good idea to use a press cloth so you won't scorch your fabric and good old parchment paper works great for that. If you have any questions on this, please email me and will be glad to try to help if you want to try this.


Scanners: It may well be that you get what you pay for, but I suspect it is not in proportion. By that I mean that the very expensive ones possibly don't give that much better performance than the cheaper ones. The main things to look for are:

  1. The resolution, 1200 dpi (dots per inch) seems about normal now but it may be that you can still find some "end of range" types with lower resolution very cheap.
  2. What is the resolution of your printer? If it isn't as good as the scanner, you won't get much more from it unless you upgrade the printer at some future date.
  3. What do you want it for? If it is only for putting pictures on the web, then 75 dpi is good enough! Don't attempt anything better because a) it will take up a lot of memory, b) it will take a long time to down load, c) computer screens only have that resolution.
  4. For making miniatures, then look at the 1200 dpi, but where are you getting your originals? If it is from your photographs, the results will be fine and scaling can be applied to get the printout just what you want. If your source is magazine pictures, picture post cards, prints, etc. then you may be disappointed. These sources use a dot printing method although the dots are too small to be seen by the eye. However, when scanning, which is also a dot process, the two sets of dots don't match up and you get what is call aliasing. You will find the picture looks streaky on the computer screen. Some photo software has various dither techniques that are supposed to overcome this effect, but I haven't found them to work very satisfactorily.


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