Hello hobby friends! It’s been a little while since I did a top 10 list here on Heresy & Heroes and so it’s about time I put one together for you, and in this post, I’m going to talk about things that were never designed with the hobby in mind, but can make your hobbying a lot easier. We’re an industrious lot, we painters of toy soldiers, and with each example here, I’m speaking from experience because all of these things can be found in my own setup, so I know of what I speak. Now, I’m not going to include any actual paints, brushes or materials that can be used in the painting of miniatures, this is more about more peripheral things. The odds and ends that can make your hobby easier. Let’s get started…
- Knife Magnet
When I moved house, I bought a knife holder for my kitchen. You know the ones. You see cool-looking chefs fling sharp knives at them in the movies (if you watch cooking-centric movies – I don’t know what you’re into). Then when I actually moved in, I found there was one already in place in my new kitchen. So I had a spare, and me being me, I used some two-part-epoxy to affix it to my hobbby desk. It now holds sculpting tools, scrapers, pins, and anything else metal that used to be strewn about my workspace. It has helped me keep the desk tidier, and I now know where all of these metal tools are. Those magnets are strong too so even heavier things like clippers live there quite happilly.
2. Makeup Brush Holder
And speaking of making things tidier, I divide my paint brushes into two categories – Quality, and Utility. That’s my way of saying good brushes, and trash brushes, and I have a lot of trash brushes, many of which used to be good brushes (accidents happen). Now the good brushes get their own special place to live, but the trash brushes don’t need such care. They live in this rather nifty holder which was very cheap, and you’ll find these at many professional make-up stations (I don’t know the correct terminology for make-up-related things, but that sounds right to me). Anyway, when the Quality brushes are put back in their feather beds at the end of a project, the Utility brushes are chucked into the makeup brush holder, and the whole place is a lot tidier
3. Ferrero Roche Tray
I won’t spend too much time waffling on about this one as I’ve written a whole article on turning a Ferrero Roche tray into a wet palette, but it’s worth reiterating in this list. If you want a wet palette, and you don’t fancy splashing out, you can make your own for very little cost, and with this method, you get free chocolates too!
The humble paperclip has all manner of uses in all manner of fields, but in the hobby, it’s perfect as a cheap source of appropiately-sized wire. And wire that you can clip with you hobby clippers too! You can of course use this for pinning heavy pieces of resin or plastic to each other with just a bit of superglue and a pin-vice needed to achieve this, or, you can combine them with our next item to make a very useful tool indeed…
5. Champagne Corks
Now, I suppose you could use any cork really, but a) why have flat wine when you can have the sparkling stuff? and b) due to their shape, champagne corks (or some fancy beer corks) have a little more stability. And what do we use them for? Miniature holders. Hobby veterans will find this very old-hat, but for you newbies out there, before everyone started making mini holders for painting, you’d drill a small hole in the underside of a mini (typically, the sole of the foot or the nether regions), put in a bit of that paperclip wire with some superglue, and then push the other end of the wire into a cork. Now you have a mini holder! What’s more, you have a bottle of bubbly to help you celebrate this accomplishment! Or, if you’re more of a beer drinker like me, and you’re willing to embrace the hobby-magpie in you, you can just swipe them off other people’s tables at the pub.
6. Plastic Bottle Tops
And staying with things that keep fizzy drinks from going flat, the next time you pick up a bottle of Sprite or Irn Bru (or whatever your soda of choice may be), before you throw away the lid, consider adding it to your hobby collection. These act like tiny dishes when turned upside down, and given that we work with tiny things, that can be pretty handy. I’ve used them to make oil washes in, store little balls of greenstuff (which is what I do when I use too much green stuff – they’re handy for bubbles, boils, glowing orbs, etc), spread sand on a base… all sorts!
7. Crocodile Clips
You may have noticed these on the Knife Magnet from earlier, but they’re incredibly useful tools to have on standby. If I’m weathering with a sponge, I will often ball up the spung and place it in the jaws of these clips before using it – it saves my fat fingers from getting in the way while also letting me hit more hard to reach parts, and it keeps me from getting even more paint on my fingers. What’s more, combine it with a bit of clean sponge (to soften the bite), and you can use these to hold small parts of your project and again, not get your fingers in the way. The fact that their resting position is closed is very helpful as this can help to relax your hand which you can’t do if you’re using tweezers.
8. Tool-bit Storage Trays
I’ve been using these for years and boy do they save space and time. If you work with tools, you don’t want to spend hours looking for particular washers, screws, or other small bits and pieces, and the same can be said of hobbyists who are in the middle of a kit bash. A place for everything, and everything in its place, right? Well these are ideal as they’re pretty cheap, and they’re just the perfect size. You can get rid of loads of sprues, label up the sections, and make your life a lot easier.
9. Magnifying Glasses
I’ve tried using old school magnifying glasses, and desk mounted magnifying glasses and sheets before and I never got on with them – they always got in the way. Then I picked up some magnifying glasses that you wear like spectacles and, wow, does it make life easier. They’ve got 1.6 magnification, and while they make me feel a bit queesy whenever I look up, as long as I’m focussed on the mini, these are a lifesaver for painting eyes, tiny-highlights, and for getting your brush into hard to reach places without painting everything around said space. Also, I think I look quite fetching in these.
10. Smart phone
Ok, it sounds obvious, and while the smart phone has changed all of our lives in many ways, let’s not overlook what it can do for us hobbyists too. It’s a quick and easy way of finding reference materials, or watching tutorials when there’s not space on the desk for a big laptop. What’s more, it can help keep us entertained, perhaps by a podcast, maybe made by me? My Life In Miniatures is in its 2nd season now and you can listen to me chat with loads of great hobbyists as you work on your hobby things yourself.
And there you have it! I hope I’ve been able to give you some ideas to help make your hobbying a little easier. If you have any other tips like these, whack them in the comments below. Until next time, Onwards!
Great write-up and tips! I’ll be putting some of these to use.