I’m spreading out the making of this miniature room over months. Here are three things that help me with my long-term projects.

My recent sewing obsession is over, for now. I was collecting fabrics and accessories to sew some bags when I suddenly heard the siren song of the partially-finished miniature room kit my nephew gave me in December 2021. This is one of those complicated, time-consuming projects that seem to be the staple of my creative life. I love detailed stuff and detail takes time.

Projects that stretch out over a long period of time have upsides and downsides. One upside is having plenty of time to consider my options and come up with new ideas. I notice what isn’t working, like discovering that the scrapbook paper I was going to use for wallpaper is the wrong scale. When I first thought of using it, I was so excited that I overlooked the fact that the design didn’t fit with the rest of the project.

The top paper came with the kit. The bottom one was my crazy choice to replace it. What was I thinking?

Another bonus to taking my time is that I don’t burn out on what I’m doing. When I lose interest, I put it away and move on to something else, just as I did going from sewing to miniature-making. I know I’ll come back to it eventually, even though I don’t know when. By working on things only when I want to, I keep things fun.

I’ve modified all these pieces for the Soho Time kit.: different fabric for the stool, pillows for the “sofa”, painting the pot for the plant, and changing the finishes and legs for the drawers.

The downsides are there, too of course. The big one is having lots of unfinished projects lying around, waiting for me to get to them. While this has always been my main way of creating, I’m still working on being okay with this. From time to time, I get overwhelmed by the number of things I haven’t finished.

Also, I forget things. In this case, I forgot that some of the wood pieces that came with the kit were already white. The walls I painted in the past needed another coat and I painted some of the pre-painted stuff at the same time. As mistakes go, this is not that big of a deal. However, it was a waste of materials and time, something I’d like to avoid. I don’t really need this to take any longer than it already is!

I’ve been working on the table this week. It’s as fiddly as everyone says and needs lots of drying time.

In addition to forgetting about the specific project, I can forget how things are done, especially as someone new to miniature making. With miniatures, it helps to paint before you glue things together. Unfortunately, I forgot this important tip. I glued the printed wood panel floor to the floor board, then tried to paint the board’s edge. I got paint on the paper and of course it wouldn’t come off. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about that, but I didn’t like the paint color I’d used and I was going to paint over it. To keep from getting even more paint on my “wood” floor, I put masking tape on it. The tape tore the paper and I couldn’t fix it. So I scraped everything off the base board and now I have to do the floor all over again. On the upside, this is an opportunity to try some different ideas and see which I like best.

To deal with the downsides, there are some tricks that work well for projects that you set aside for months at a time.

First, take good notes. As a beginner miniaturist, I am taking extensive notes while working on this project. After every session, I write down what I accomplished and what I learned, what worked and what didn’t, and any ideas I have about changes I might make. Notes are good.

My project notebook is under the instructions on the right.

Second, read your notes. When I pulled the kit out, I had eighteen pages to read through even though I was itching to get started. It was well worth the time to review them before diving in. My notes told me what glue to use and reminded me of where I was at so that it was easier to get to work. I did get confused about a few things and I still made mistakes, but it would have been much worse if I hadn’t read my notes first.

Third, mine the expertise of others. Watching videos of other people make this same kit has shown me the things I want to do, and the things I do not want to do. Videos of miniature-making tips and tricks have reminded me of basic techniques. I’m particularly grateful for the simple idea that sticking the tiny thing you want to paint on a rod works much better than just holding it with your fingers.

Some of the many accessories I’ve made for this kit.

Being a beginner means that this long-term project is taking even longer. I don’t know what I’m doing, so I waste a lot of time figuring things out. But it’s still fun. I’m really enjoying finding ways to get things to work and making decisions about what I will and won’t include in my little scene. I’ll be interested to see how much I get done before I decide to switch to something else.

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