Saturday, April 27, 2013

5 Tricks and Supplies* Every Miniaturist Should Know

1. Get the gunk out of paintbrushes with rubbing alcohol.
This is a trick that I learned from Casey. Just dip those crusty old paintbrushes in rubbing alcohol, and the paint will come right out. It seems to soften some of my brush bristles slightly as well, though this could be my imagination!

I used a hairdryer to take apart this bespaq love seat  for reupholstering.
2. Use heat to soften the glue on commercial furniture. Just use a hair dryer to heat whatever you are trying to remove/take apart.  I don't recall where I first learned this trick, but it really gets those stubborn pieces unstuck without breaking.

I used the microwave method to stiffen the crown for this pirate's hat. 
3. Dry leather in a microwave. If you need leather to hold a specific shape really well, get it wet/damp, stretch it into the right shape, then microwave it dry. The microwave "cooks" the leather into a hard shell. It will also change the texture of the leather, into a smaller, more pebbled surface. I wouldn't recommend doing this in a microwave that you use for food, since I have no idea what toxins might be in the leather.

4.Printable Scale Rulers
I can't tell you how many times these accurate miniature rulers have come in handy. I tend to convert measurements to fractions of an inch when I need to reduce them precisely. But if I've eyeballed something and just want to confirm that it's approximately the right size, I love the 1/12th and 1/144th scale rulers from Jim's printables.

5. Use Zip Kick to instantly dry Zap-a-Gap glue.
I first heard of this stuff in a "behind the scenes" interview with a movie prop master. Then, I used it for the first time with Nell Corkin at the Guild School. Zip Kick dries Zap-a-Gap glues instantly. I always tend to underestimate the amount of time it takes for super glues to dry, and for a while I gave up on using super glues, since my glued joins never seemed to hold, and I was constantly having to
unstick my fingers! It comes in spray or liquid form. Just be aware that the spray form smells terrible.

Disclaimer: I am making no money from promoting any products mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own, based on the products I have purchased.


  1. Thanks for these tips. There were a few I didn't know and will definitely try now!


  2. Thanks for these useful tips.
    Bye, Faby

  3. Eliza, thank you so much for sharing these valuebal tips. The tips about the Zip Kick and the leather were unknown for me.
    Have a nice weekend. Hugs, Ilona

  4. Thanks for the tips. Really appreciate the link to the rulers.

  5. Hi Eliza! Great tips! I like the rubbing alcohol brush cleaner tip as I have not given the best care to my brushes. They could use a good cleaning!


  6. What great information! I would have never figured this out in a million years. You can bet I will be using them!
    Thanks so much!

  7. Thanks so much for the tips!! I love this project! Very cool!