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Organization Tips For the Model Builder's or Miniaturist's Workshop

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Modelling Work Desk Tips

  • Cover a work surface with a piece of tempered glass (especially if your work with figures or polymer clay). Glass is easy to clean off and you can cut on tempered glass. It also makes a 'true' level worksurface for gluing or clamping as it won't have nicks and cuts.
  • If you prefer, cover a work space with inexpensive dollar store flexible kitchen cutting sheets, they can go through a dishwasher if necessary.
  • If your workspace is an inexpensive 'student' type desk, see if your local hardware store / lumberyard sells offcuts of countertop material to place on top of the desk to protect it against any cutting and gluing exeriments.
  • Heavy duty workshop paper towels can be rinsed and reused over and over and over like rags, much stronger than regular paper towels they tend to create less lint.
  • Invest in a dollar store set of hooks with clothes clips on one end. You can hang a hook off a handy drawer handle or pull with a paper towel at hand for the moment when the glue or paint spills. These clips can also be strung from a wire to hold painted, stamped or sealed paper to dry.
  • If you need storage for craft wood offcuts or a wide range of wire, set a shallow shelf on drawer runners under a desk top where it won't interfere with your leg space and use it to store items like wire and wood which need long, flat storage.
  • Mount a small strip of magnetic tape somewhere on a wall above your work desk if possible, or mount it to the edge of the desk. You can use the magentic tape to store glass headed pins and needles so they are close at hand when needed.
  • Magnetic kitchen strips can be used to store 'watchmakers' tins (metal tins with clear view lids) holding small items (hinges, miniature nails) against the strip, as well as metallic tools (dental picks,tweezers, spatulas)

Glue Tips for the Modellers Workshop

  • Always buy glue in the smallest possible containers - glues dry out and thicken up over time. You are better to work with fresh glue.
  • Always have alcohol (isoproponal / rubbing alcohol) on hand to clean up glue spills, or damp paper towels, or a small bottle of nail polish remover (acetone) depending on which type of glue you use. It is far easier to remove the excess while a piece is clamped, than after it dries.
  • Store glue bottles upside down in some type of holder (I use a coiled metal toothbrush holder an toothpick holders or small jars for some sizes of glue. The glue will be at the tip where you need it.

Paint Tips

  • Learn how to mix custom colors for the type of paint you use most. Keep records of your own paint formulas on small index cards with a paint sample in one corner. If you can mix your own paints, you will need far fewer colors, which take up less workshop space and mean your paint stays fresher. Start with black, white, Paynes gray, burnt and raw umber, and the primary colors you find easiest to mix (blue, red and yellow come in many different hues) Take a look at Marion Boddy Evans' Color Mixing Theory to help you get started, she also has a great set of Color Mixing Tips
  • Store custom mixed paint in artists' paint cups
  • Store paint brushes standing up on end in a recycled tin or jar, each time you use a brush, use an appropriate brush cleaner (like the The Masters Brush Cleaner and reset the brush shape before you allow the brush to dry.
  • Set a metal cookie tin or a card photo box sideways on a shelf with the top removed to store craft paint bottles The box will hold a stack four to six bottles deep. Stack the bottles in the box on their sides with the base end out so you can see the color and easily pull the needed bottle from the stack.

Storage

  • If you keep things in recycled containers or standard storage boxes, have a roll of post it note label tape on hand (or a couple of different colors of post it type labels) so you have an easy way to make moveable labels to keep your stash organized.
  • Keep magazines in storage boxes / magazine files labelled as to year, and enclose a copy of the index for the magazines in the box. It is much easier to find articles when you can pull out a copied index stored with the magazines rather than have to search through all the magazines to find an article.
  • Store small items in small sized zipper plastic bags. Some bag sizes fit upright into a single narrow drawer organizer (knife drawer) so you can easily sort through groups of small items.

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