Workshops and Organization

Page: 2

I found a WONDERFUL mini-helper in the scrap wood heap last week. My hubby had used a piece of 2"x4" scrap lumber, cut to about 8" long for testing his settings when making borings for another project. It is full of various size holes which are just perfect for sitting glue and paint bottles into upside down. I drilled some smaller holes for paint brushes, meat skewers and toothpicks. It keeps everything right together and ready for use. I love it!

Reva in Loveland Ohio.

Legos: Please, don't get rid of all your Legos, for they can be of very good use. When you want to glue things in a right angle, just make a wall with a corner with your Lego, put the glue thing in it and use a rubber band to keep it in the corner and let dry. This works very well for me and it might work for you as well!

Marjon de Haas (The Netherlands)

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, Newark, CA

Packaging. Re-writable CD's now come in multiple packs as opposed to the individual jewel cases. The round, lockable type makes for useful mini storage. The new square larger jewel cases also have potential, but where I have found them useful is: to take the plastic sleeve that used to hold the CD and staple it to my order sheets. As I complete parts of an order, I slip the minis into the sleeve. One side is see through (now the outside) and the other is soft so as not to scratch the contents (cd's, now minis.). This way I can see how I am progressing and it keeps everything in order and visible. Of course, I only have mini books and plates and I can see that this would not work for flower arrangements!

Barbara B from South Africa

Dollhouse diary: I've been using a "Project Organizer" by Day Runner for a few years to keep track of my latest building which is a three-story bed & breakfast. It's a 5x7 ring(6) notebook that has lined paper and other goodies in it for keeping track of my photos, ideas, wiring, costs, wallpaper etc. You can purchase the fillers which include a "day runner" (plastic holders) to keep the photos in; Ziplock pages for your carpet samples and fabrics; plastic holders "design a day" with three slots for the wallpaper; and tab guides. I carry mine with me to shows, as it's a complete compilation of my project from its beginning to the furnishing. Mine came from Office Max, but I would think any good office supply store would carry these.

Roberta, Wisconsin

Dollhouse diary: Another source for organizers is They have a good selection of binder styles and pocket pages. I've been using them for years for my scrapbooking stuff and have had excellent service.


Dollhouse diary: I have been waiting and watching for mention of Gulliver's Emporium's (Sis Blechman) "My Dollhouse Diary" but I don't think anyone has posted it yet.


Kid's Projects/clubs: Here goes my 2 cents: I taught a grade 2 class for 3 months this term and I taught them how to create some furniture for their roomboxes. This was the culmination of a unit on mapping. We built their bedrooms (real or dream) in shoeboxes. I showed them how to make pillows, and beds out of boxes and material, dressers and desks, and other furniture made with boxes covered with non-drying modeling clay. This was a long lasting project...about 2 weeks, taking about 1/2 a day each day. They had to paint the boxes with 3 coats to get proper coverage and they were very patient. They knew that it would take time to see their results. Once they got the hang of the techniques for making the furniture and accessories and the techniques for making balls, balls, snakes, pancakes, and tubes with the modeling clay, they got very, very creative for 7 and 8 years olds. They made lots of accessories all on their own, like scooters, Nintendo, computers, chairs, phones, etc.

I was thrilled with the results and so were they. I took pics of each of them with their rooms, and then took the index picture card and cut them up and gave them each their real sized picture and their miniature picture along with a miniature diploma.

I wouldn't hesitate to do this again with this age group or older.

Roz Weitzman

Third garage bay: You may have joked when you said to a/c the porch or the garage. That is exactly what I have in mind. I am using the third garage of a three garage house. What do two retired old folks need a third garage for. Why my mini shop of course.

Dr Bob

Third garage bay: that's exactly what I'm doing with the third garage bay inour house! Make sure that when you have the heating installed in the third bay that it is rated for a garage or your insurance company won't insure your house. I am also insulating the overhead garage door with special insulation made just for this purpose so that it will still be operational should I want to have access to the outside.

Marilyn, MI

Storing information: When I find instructions with a pattern for making something that I want to save I print out the instructions and then save the pattern to a 3.5 disk. I then take a large manila envelope which I've labeled with the projects name, and slip both the instructions as well as the disk inside. Now when I'm ready to do the project I have the written instructions as well as the pattern in one place, and the envelope can hold more than one project. For saving just tips, save them to disk and be sure to label the disk.

Marilyn, MI

Inventory Records: Here is how I inventory my collection. I have a file folder for each house, roombox, dome, etc. I created a spreadsheet on the computer with the following columns: Date Acquired - Description -Maker/Manufacturer - Value (as a dealer, it's sometimes wholesale) - Retail Cost. If it's made by a friend, I give it a fair market value. All receipts or notes with this information are kept that units file. Then I have a tally sheet listing the total value of each unit, for a grand total. (The amount scares me sometimes!) Receipts/Notes for the things I've not used yet are kept in a separate file. As I "shop" my cabinets while decorating, I add that note to the proper folder.
This works for me without being too complicated. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'd like to hear them.

Ruth, Grass Valley, CA

Organizing Part 1: by Connie Sauve

Inventory Records: As far as organizing my own miniatures (I'm known for my organizing skills, more ideas to come later) I have a 3-ring binder with tabbed dividers for each project I'm collecting for. I designed a form (I'm also a Graphic Designer) to keep track of all my miniatures I make or purchase. I have a separate form for each project, including (as an example for my dollhouse) I have a page for each room in my dollhouse, and also one for building supplies and one for the landscaping for the house. Most of my single roomboxes just have a single form to cover the whole project. The form includes:

1. "Title" put the name of the project at the top (or a blank for writing it in).

2. "Date" for when the item was purchased or made.

3. "H/P" which stands for Handmade or Purchased, just write H or P for the appropriate option.

4. "Description" for a detailed description of the item.

5. "Cat #" to put the item # or kit item # in, in case you would like to get another one.

6. "Artist" used to put the artist's name who made the item (or company name like Chrysnbon), or your name if it was handmade.

7. "Purchased" is for where you purchased the item from, usually a business name.

8. "Price" lastly a column for the price (I advise not adding a project up! It can be scary).

It's a great way to keep track of all your miniatures in one spot. I have at least 30 projects I'm collecting for (sound familiar?). I write everything in pencil only, because when I purchase an item for a particular project, that doesn't mean that's where it ends up. Then you can just erase the information and move it to another project.

If anyone is interested in obtaining a copy of my Miniature Inventory form, I'll make one up in Microsoft Word and I can e-mail a generic document to you. Just send me an e-mail with "Miniature Inventory Form" in the subject line and I'll send you a copy. I would like to put it on my website, but I'm not sure how to do it so people can access it an print it off themselves.

I keep all receipts I get and add to them if information is missing such as dates, detailed description, business names and artists name. I keep these separate as they tend to pile up. I also have a rule for myself that I'm not allowed to put away my new minis until they get written in my binder, which keeps me caught up. I also have been leaving the price tags on things (if they are small and can be hidden), then if anything ever happens to me, someone doesn't sell it for .25 at a garage sale (my family is well trained and knows better). My hubby doesn't care (to a point) what I pay for my minis, so I can leave the prices on (my Mom is a different story, she doesn't understand).

I have a tendency to collect lots of items from the same artist's, Wright Guide Miniatures as an example. I think I have just about everything they make and can't seem to get past their booth without spending lots of money, those $2 and $3 dollar items sure add up fast! I have a separate list going for a few select artists that I can write down all the items I get from that person. Then I can pull out those pages and bring them with me to a show that I know they will be at, so I don't duplicate buying the same things over and over.

Connie Sauve

Storage for Projects in Progress: At about three o'clock this morning, I found an interesting tip in an old craft magazine. They used the plastic file bins designed to sit on the top of a desk as organizers for craft projects. Eureka! I now have a valid use for the ones I refused to throw away when I closed my husband's office. By 4:30AM, I had found them in an unopened box in the garage. I could hardly wait for my husband to wake and have his first cup of coffee. My studio adjoins our bedroom and I did not want to disturb him rest. At six, I baked a loaf of blueberry bread, sliced a fresh cantaloupe and made the coffee. The combinations of aromas brought my big bear out of hibernation. When he was comfortably settled in his lounge chair with the morning paper, I slunk into my workroom. Though I knew it was possible that my epiphany was a direct result of sleep deprivation, I eagerly set up a few salvaged bins as an experiment. It is fan-dam-tabulous!!! I work on Styrofoam sheets because I love the way I can pin items to them, spill and have my mess absorbed rather than dribbled down the front of me, stick my tools into them, etc. I also enjoy the sound they make as I stomp them after a particularly frustrating design faux pas. The files hold my work sheets perfectly. Now I can work on multiple projects, slide them on a rack to dry or wait until the spirit moves me to complete them and have my design space clear. At the moment, I have a stack of 8 on the right hand corner of my design table. I can't believe I've looked at these items for umpteen years and never realized the value of their potential. I see them at every garage sale, often for 25 cents. What a prize! Now, I think I'll take a nap.

Tips & Hints File: I use a recipe box, dividers and index cards to collect tips and ideas. The data is on my hard drive but I don't create in the office - I work in my studio. I glue the tip or magazine clip to the index card with repositionable stick glue. I make notes on the back of the card as I work on an idea. I slip the card of my choice into a clear Plexiglass frame (any dollar store) and set it on the back of my design table or clip it to my drawing board. When a project is completed, I update the information in my computer files and scan the item I have made. I love my computer but would fight to the death to protect my card file.


Making An Inventory: I have been following the thread of the various systems that are used to inventory their treasures. Decided I'd add my two cents. I use Adobe PageMaker. I scan or photograph each item I want a record of, paste it into PageMaker and write all the info about it under the image. I decided to use this method because I was afraid, as someone mentioned, that when I was no longer around, the kids wouldn't have a clue about what anything was, what it looked like or what it was worth. Hence, the pictures. Each page averages about 6 pictures and captions. I print each page twice, one for a loose-leaf notebook I use for reference and one for another notebook that is kept in a safer place. I have also inventoried the contents of our true-true-life house (furniture, antiques, jewelry, silver, whatever). The insurance company loves it because in case of catastrophe (God forbid), the pictures prove that you owned these things. Oh yes, you make dividers in the notebooks. If you also collected postcards, or rare books then you'd have a divider for those too. Actually, I suppose you could use Word also.


Babywipes: Even if you don't do fimo, one should really keep these things on the workbench anyway -- they really take the paint and glue off one's hands really nicely.:)

Kim From Canada

Connie's Miniature Inventory Form: Connie gave me permission to convert her form to an Adobe pdf file and you can download it from here:

Thanks again, Connie!

Anne Gerdes

Connie's Miniature Inventory Form: Connie gave me permission to convert her form to an Adobe pdf file and you can download it from here:

Thanks again, Connie!

Anne Gerdes

Organizing Part 2: by Connie Sauve
Here are a couple more ideas for organizing: I make dolls, so I have a lot of fabrics, laces, trims, thread, beads etc. which all get put into zip bags.

1. Fabrics I put into pleated sandwich zip bags from the grocery store.

2. Silk ribbon spools I put in 3 x 5 zip bags.

3. Laces and trims I wrap around a 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" matboard (cut from scraps from the framing dept.) and put into 3 x 4 zip bags.

4. Thread and small wire spools I put into a 2 x 3 zip bag. Hint: you never have to open the zip bag if you leave a tail of the thread/wire out of the top of the bag, just snap it closed around the tail and pull out what is needed. Another hint: Put the "catch" on the spool for the thread/wire on the bottom of the bag or else the thread will get caught on it at every revolution.

5. Beads, tiny brasses, buttons, etc. I use a 2 x 2 zip bag.

I organize everything in clear plastic shoe boxes. I have a lot of fabric, so it gets broke down into a lot of categories - Silk dark solids, silk light solids, silk stripes, silk florals, taffeta. I do the same for my cottons, velvets and wools. Each category gets their own box, labeled on the end. The plastic bags are important because when you are searching through the boxes the fabrics/thread/laces stay perfectly clean.

I also have a small binder which I put small (1" x 1") swatches of all my fabrics in, again broken down into fabric categories, and where I bought the fabric from. Then when I go fabric shopping I take my binder with and I won't duplicate buying the same fabrics.

The silk ribbon I have in 4 boxes: 7mm, 2mm, and two boxes for 4mm dividing the numbers (there are a lot of colors for 4mm). Again labeled on the end.

The threads, laces (a white laces box and an ecru laces box) and trims are all separate. I have plastic boxes for my zip bags, feathers, Bunka/cording, straw, etc.

Beads and tiny items are in a small flat plastic box with dividers, available at craft stores in the cross-stitch dept.

Quick tip: Tape a plastic measuring tape (fabric stores) to the front of your desk using double-sided tape. Then you never have to search for a ruler to measure again.

Connie Sauve

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