Saturday, December 26, 2015

Paper Doll Storage Options

Preserve your paper dolls and their accessories!
(you might even be able to do this for free or at low cost)

The dolls posted here at the Studio's blog, along with their clothing, generally all fall within the 8.5 inch by 11 inch size range prior to their being cut from their backgrounds.

To prevent damage, there needs to be extra room when storing such outfits, so perhaps something as large as 10.25  inches by 12 inches would work well enough for most storage needs. However, I prefer 12" by 12" myself.

I will continue searching online now and again for better ideas than the ones I'm choosing to show today. The size ranges for most box blanks made from papier mâché seem limiting at best.

However, at a price of $26.99 for 3 different sizes (as a set), including a fairly good size for the outfits, here is the first (and most pricey) idea for my fellow paper doll fans. (A Link is listed below the image)

These are by a company called Darice.
They are available online only
at the following link HERE.
These look both cute and versatile.
(Price listed here may not remain the same.)

The smallest of the 3 boxes could be set aside for hats and other small items for the dolls, all paper. But I would like to caution you never to store anything other than paper items with other paper items. Children interested in collecting paper items need to be shown what's best, of course.

Walmart carries items from the Darice line as well, although they offer a smaller range of products than can generally be found online. The cute little suitcase style purse below has similar dimensions to the larger of the 3 trunks shown above, but would it be sturdy enough or store enough? Plus, it has a wooden handle and a few metal parts. It could need reinforcing. Perhaps decoupage and some attractive paper using Mod Podge would help to ultimately strengthen it a bit. Rough play with such an item would not be wise.

But let's face it--it is a very cute design. It might be fun to have a paper doll or crafting party devoted to decorating one of these pretty boxes, wouldn't you agree?

Contains one 10"L x 8"W x 3"H suitcase style box 

Available at the following link HERE.

Smaller boxes for things such as hats and any other leftover bits or accessories likewise need a little bit of order, too, don't they? Such things can be very delicate, and easily ruined without the proper care.

I would measure your largest hat, and find a box that is twice as long and half again as wide, if possible. In my experience , some tobacco shops do sell various sizes of already emptied cigar boxes in their stores (no, I do not smoke cigars!). These should be chosen from for sturdiness and for size. The size may be the trickier part to find. I'd take along something to use when measuring the inner dimensions. Inner dimensions do matter most, don't they?

I've been fortunate enough to find a few good, sturdy wooden cigar boxes that way, all of them with brass hinges. For these, I like to check and see how well put together each box for sale is prior to narrowing my choices down to the final few. Does a box close completely? Are any of the sides warped at all, or crookedly put together? Most of the wooden ones in plain wood (without a paper covering on all sides) are mainly too small for this project, in my experience. 

The paper covered ones come in a wider variety of sizes and some might work well for most outfits. Even the paper covered ones tend to be made from wood. Some of these have short nails at the lid front. Such nails may be removed fairly quickly. I generally give the sharp end a few straight taps with a hammer. Once the flat end rises high enough above the outside of the lid and pokes above the paper, a pair of pliers will finish the job. 

Also, it's best to check for signs of weakness in the front closure. These will be often made of brass, and must be worked around carefully if you are going to cover or paint the box. I often use blue painter's tape as a guard. This can be cut to fit finely using nail or manicure scissors.

Generally speaking, such boxes, though cheaper, 
are not my first choice for such a project.
They are fun to work with, though!
Some paper covered ones can be fairly good sized.
(I have a collection of maybe 15 to 20!)

Check all corners for damage, as well as the interior. Likewise, test the fit of the lid to the box carefully. Occasionally, some can be warped a little bit. The stress to the structure of any warped piece will cause it to break, or a hinge to come undone. If you don't like the leftover smell of tobacco, some potpourri or fresh whole cloves can help. Cinnamon and cloves can be slightly oily, as can potpourri, so in my experience, gluing your lining in place first prior to re-scenting the box's interior works better. Also, felt works better than paper for lining interiors.

Some Favorite papers for decoupage:  Victorian style papers of course! Victorian Trading Company (link HERE) often sells some very nice paper. Some of it may be used to decorate or to wrap gifts. But almost any really attractive paper or fabric might look equally good. If the interior of whatever sort of box you've chosen is large enough, I'd recommend first lining it with felt. In which case, the glue is applied first to the wood or paper board of the interior walls of the box. Tacky Glue is very helpful. By the way, I like to do this one wall at a time, as it saves mess and fuss for later. Keep waxed paper handy for sandwiching in between sticky edged lids and bases during drying time. This helps during decoupage time, so that patterns can stay consistent and the lid stay free of the base.

Even my favorite Mod Podge tends to stay or to even become tacky for long periods, especially during damp weather. The solution? Microglaze! This handy, tiny little jar of special finishing sealant lasts a very, very long time! Just coat with a few swipes followed by some light buffing, and your already dried surface will remain protected for quite a while. I actually really like this Judikins brand product very much. I've discovered that it works well in my art journals, too. My Google search results page is overflowing with options for shopping, including and Jo-Ann's, etc.
The link for that search page is HERE

Other possibilities might include hat boxes, vintage luggage pieces, boot boxes (reinforced) or plastic storage boxes for 12 inch by 12 inch scrapbook papers. Some of the latter can be actually very handy and even dressed up a bit.

Whatever your choice, please remember this: the biggest dimension for the outfit items is close to (I think) 11 inches. Therefore, 12 inch by 12 inch might be your optimal size for the dolls and their dresses.

My favorite for being child proof and able to be wiped clean? The one at the link below! It is sized to a generous 14 inch by 14 inch size, and may be found at Target online. The site wouldn't let me get a copy of the picture of it for you. I like the lid to this one very much, as far as plastic storage lids go.

To see that one, you'll need to follow the link HERE.

As for the Paper Doll Rooms being offered here at PPS, I'd suggest a simple portfolio which can be tucked underneath a bed or inside of a closet. Simply measure your Rooms and then find a portfolio which  is simple and sturdy and which preferably ties at its top edge. My experience with zippered portfolios (I now own 4) is that for regular use, these can beat up corners and edges of larger pieces of paper. Also, the average diorama folding table top screen can be folded up and tucked cleanly out of sight.

Here is one idea for a simple, easy to assemble portfolio for your Paper Doll Room Storage (it might actually be free!).

1.) Get on the phone to your local art or hobby supply store. Ask to speak with the person in charge of stocking the art department, if possible. Or, you can speak to a member of their management for a moment.

2.) Your first question:
"Do you carry Artist Illustration Board? And if so, what sizes do you carry?" Ask for the biggest sizes they've got.

Crescent 300 comes in 20 inch by 30 inch size. The Rooms themselves do measure (oddly) to 21.5 inches by 15.5 inches. (Other companies also make this kind of heavy weight paper for Illustrators and cartoonists.)

3.) Your second question:
"How often do you receive new shipments of your paper stock, especially your Illustration Board? I am actually looking for the box which the board comes in. This needs to be clean and have no dents or cuts, if possible. It has to be for illustration board which comes in the 20 inch by 30 inch size." 

If they do have one of these boxes, and it looks good enough for storage in your home (decorated by you, of course), then ask if you may have one or two for free. They are usually glad to get rid of such large boxes so easily.

Once you have succeeded in your quest for the right box, the box should be opened at the (narrow end) top, so that the Rooms can stand on edge, shorter side down, or lain flat if the box is to be kept under a bed. Colorful duct tape can be used on every corner edge and at the top open end for greater strength. The stronger you can make it, the longer it will last for you.

Further Ideas
Bull clips may be used to keep Rooms clipped to the storage box's top edge. (short end to short end) Felt squares may be used between the Room and each bull clip to protect surfaces.

I recommend smooth, clear contact self adhesive shelf paper for protecting each Room. This might be tricky. It would have to be done in sections carefully. It might require a practice run, so to speak, using something less valuable than your assembled Room. It's better to assemble your Room (possibly even by gluing it to some illustration board for further sturdiness) prior to later coating it with the clear contact paper. Bone folders can help with smoothing and preventing bubbling.

There are special clear plastic sleeves in art stores for prints and paintings (not canvases). These might extend the life of every room quite well, providing they fit properly.

All white margins need to be removed FIRST using a cropper or straight edge, prior to assembly, in order to assure proper fit of the Room sections in the dolls' world. There are currently two Rooms available, but there are sure to be more in future.

Last but not least
Lastly, here is a fun little project that may or may not work for you as a hat box. The template for it may be had for free, although never ever sold, out of fairness to the person who is allowing us to use her templates and instructions for free. Thank you for your every inspired design, Ruthann Zarnoff!

Templates for Ms Zarnoff's Suitcase box 
plus all of her other creative design options
can be downloaded for free by following the link HERE.

Happy Paper Doll gift-giving and storage decorating!

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