Ann's Tool Box
Written by Ann Vanture

Click here for larger image

1. Self-healing cutting mat. Makes cutting smooth and effortless, as well as prolongs the life of a cutting blade. Cardboard cutting mats will shred your project and destroy the blade.

2. Thin metal ruler with cork backing designed to prevent slipping. English scale in inches on one side and miniatures-friendly millimeters on the other. Use the ruler with clamps to make a folding gizmo. See photo above.

3. Clamps are used to secure the metal ruler. Make accurate paper folds against the ruler’s edge and improve your paper project at hand. Clamps cost under $2 each at the local hardware store.

4. Magnifying glass is good to have, however, if you have never used a pair of magnifying eyeglasses you will be pleasantly surprised at how wonderful they are for making miniatures.

5. Fast-grab, dries-clear, quick-dry craft glue. Works where a typical wet, slippery, slow-to-dry white craft glue does not. Standard white craft glue is too wet and sloppy to work with when making miniatures. I like Nicole brand, but most any brand with the “fast-grab dries-clear, quick-dry” descriptor will do. I have since added Aleene’s Clear Gel Tacky Glue and a small hot-glue gun to my arsenal.

6. Acid-free glue stick is appropriate to glue flat items back-to-back. This glue, however, is not good for gluing tabs because the contact becomes brittle over time and loosens its grip. Use a thick coat for book pages and wallpaper in small display boxes.

7. DecoArt Paper Effects clear dimensional paint adds dimension to printed items such as the printed candy in a candy box or game pieces. There are other brands as well, and it is my understanding that all brands can be difficult to locate. This is an enhancement and not necessary to have in order to assemble miniatures.

8. Polyurethane paint IS NOT NEEDED FOR Pre-printed Paper Minis kits. This is for those of you who are printing your own printables and may not have a colorfast printout. If so, spray a couple of light coats before cutting out a printie. It protects the mini’s finish and glue wipes off easily without leaving tell-tale residue. KEEP ALL MINIATURES OUT OF DIRECT LIGHT...NOT JUST PAPER MINIS. The sun and light bulbs will fade, paint, fabric, wood and--most of all--paper.

9. Mini black office binder clips hold book pages together while gluing the book’s spine. Place a bit of thin cardboard between the clip and your book to prevent dents.

10. Average sized scissors for cropping pieces apart. Use detailing scissors and X-acto knife for detail cutting.

11. X-acto knife and No. 11 blades for cutting nooks-and-crannies perfectly. Never use a dull blade! Blades are your best investment.

12. Variety of small artist paint brushes for painting least one flat and one tiny pointed brush.

13. Toothpick for poking and picking.

14. Two thin needles wrapped tightly at the eyes end with scotch tape can be helpful for winding paper.

15. Straightened paper clip for poking and picking.

16. Tweezers for holding small items and pressing glued folds and seams. Cotton swap (not shown) is also good for pressing seams.

17. Aluminum foil to use as a disposable glue pot. Cup it if you need to mix a little water with your glue. When done, just throw it away.

Not shown:

18. Tissue/paper towels for quick clean-up

19. Cup for water to hold your gluing brushes

20. Tool box to keep these items localized

21. Optional selection of small hole punches. A 1/16”, 1/8" and standard 1/4" punch come in very handy.

22. A collection of dowel type objects in a variety of circumferences. Use these to wrap curved objects around to capture perfect curvatures.

23. A desk spotlight

24. Thin string

25. Spray paint or craft paint to paint outer surfaces of display boxes.

April 24, 2015
Just in case I missed something above here's a list I published in the newsletter in April of 2015:

Every once in a while I like to bring up my check list of 'tools' which will make you the best paper-craft miniaturist possible. There's nothing expensive on the list, and my aim in designing Paper Minis is to supply a hobby which does not require a lot of special equipment or high-end skill. I hope this list is helpful to you.

  • A craft blade tool using a no. 11 blade is great to use in tight cutting spots. Always use a fresh blade, for a dull blade will shred the edge of your project.
  • A true cutting mat is a must. Using a substitute could impact the quality of your project. For example, using a piece of cardboard will dull your blade and create a ragged cut edge.
  • A scoring tool can be as simple as a metal nail file–the tip is thin and smooth. Test your tool first to make sure there isn’t a burr that will scrap the printed surface.
  • A thin metal straight-edge ruler with a cork backing is perfect for creating a straight cut line, or used as a guide for the scoring tool, or to hold against the paper to make a perfect crease. Tip: When cutting with a craft blade tool, always position the guide ruler so the cut is going away from the project piece. This eliminates the possibility of accidentally cutting into and ruining a piece.
  • Tweezers are great for pressing a glued bond.
  • Cotton swabs work well to press on glued seams, such as down inside a carton or can.
  • Scissors and detailing scissors are good to have on hand.
  • A bottle of fast-grab, quick-dry white craft glue that dries clear is very important use. Otherwise standard soupy, slow-dry craft glue is a disaster waiting to happen.
  • A couple sizes of flat artist brushes to use when applying glue. A small piece of aluminum foil to use as a glue pot is handy and easily disposed. In a few cases you may need to add a little water to the glue. Remember to wash out your brushes before the glue sets; if it does, alcohol will help remove dried glue from a brush(s).
  • An acid free glue stick. Use only as directed because this type of glue could lose it’s grip over time.
  • A set of inexpensive felt tip color pens works very well for camouflaging white paper edges made when cut.
  • To get the best rounding of a piece, such as a can, hat box, or tube doll, pre-wrap the piece on a cylindrical item such as a dowel, paint brush handle or craft blade tool handle.
  • A variety of circle paper-hole punches are good to have on hand, but not necessary. 1/4", 3/8", 1/16", 1/8" size make for a great selection.
  • A Couple sizes of black binder clips (they do come in mod colors these days) and possibly a couple popsicle sticks. Great for gripping items such as book pages while the glue dries.
  • Toothpick or dental pick for poking and picking.
  • High-intensity desk lamp to see by.
  • Magnifier or magnifier glasses (what a great invention!)
  • Tissue or paper towels for clean-up.
  • Cup of water to rinse/hold glue paint brushes.
  • Last, but not least a small piece of fine grit sand paper and fresh tube of plastic cement. If you make many of the miniature books with laminated box sleeves, scuffing up the tab with sand paper and gluing with plastic cement will ensure that the bond does not pop apart.

Paper Minis Miniatures
On-Line Since 2002

Front Royal, Virginia

Copyright for Paper Minis Miniatures
held by Ann Vanture, 2003-2012
All rights reserved (worldwide rights)