Saturday, January 14, 2017

Part 3 of the Answer to the Silly Question

Thanks so much for the questions some of you have been asking. That makes my posts feel more like a conversation than my blathering on about my stuff. Several of you asked about my sentiment storage bin and whether I break sets apart to organize sentiments.

The answer is messy. Most of these CD cases hold individual sentiment sets, such as Papertrey's Wet Paint or My Favorite Things Label Maker Sentiments. For smaller sets, there might be two per case. BUT I do occasionally break sets apart to move sentiments to this bin. This is usually when I notice that there are particularly useful sentiments in mostly image sets that I keep forgetting about.

For instance, behind the Birthday tab pictured above are three CD cases: 1) Papertrey's Birthday Basics (with a few other random PTI birthday sentiments from other sets because there was room), 2) Papertrey's Birthday Bash Sentiments (plus Polka Dot Basics, another small PTI set), and 3) Simon Says It's Your Birthday (plus a single Gina K birthday wishes sentiment culled from a larger set of flowers). With the three CD cases is a transparency folder of StampinUp's Endless Birthday Wishes.

As you can see, there is a lot of compromising going on with this particular organization.

The tab behind Birthday is labelled All Occasion and contains the bigger mixed sentiment sets like Papertrey's Mega Mixed Messages and Clearly Besotted's A Little Sentimental. I don't ever break those sets up.

Bottom line on sentiments...there are still plenty of them left with the original set and stored on the other side of the room. But all the sets that contain mostly sentiments are on my desk, as are randomly pulled, useful sentiments from sets that are mostly images. If I find that I use a set that contains combinations of sentiments and images primarily for one or the other, I store them accordingly.

For instance, Faux Ribbon has a bunch of sentiments that I almost never use, but I frequently use the faux ribbon stamps; therefore, that set is with my borders and backgrounds rather than with the sentiments. Yet when I finally decided that I was getting tired of the images in Botanical Silhouettes, I moved it to the sentiments bin because I kept forgetting that there are some fabulous sentiments in that set.

I expect that's all as clear as mud, but it works for me. Some people are pathologically attached to keeping sets intact and whole, and I completely understand that. Other people break sets up without a second thought, which seems a tad free-wheeling to me. For practical reasons, I'm somewhere in the middle, leaning toward whole sets.

On a different subject, reader Gaye, noticing my ink pads are stored upright, asked whether storing ink pads upside down will make them last longer. For dye inks, the answer is probably yes; this was certainly the logic behind StampinUp's flip-top ink pads, which keep the pad facing down. Dye ink is very runny, and gravity will keep the ink from sinking through the pad. For pigment and chalk inks, which are very thick, the answer is probably no.

I used to store my dye ink pads upside down, but it was so frustrating to sift through stacks of upside down pads that I flipped them upright and haven't thought about it since.

Now it's time to take a closer look at the right side of my craft space. Here's where almost all my stamps, paper, and less frequently used supplies live.

On the far right, you can see a six-drawer storage unit that holds most of my punches (although the simple shapes--circles, squares, ovals--are in three of the white drawers on the far left, just to make things complicated). On top of the punch storage is a fun little display tree I bought at JoAnn's last fall. It has a bunch of Zentangles tiles hanging from it.

The brush hanging on the wall above the light switch plate (yes, that's Shakespeare!) is a Chinese glue brush used by bookbinders. It's too cool for me to use, so I hang it on the wall. Plus, I'd need to be working on a HUGE book to need a glue brush that big.

The inspiration board displays the cards you've sent me. There have been a few additions since I took the picture (thanks, Janet and Marty!), but all cards sent to me end up here for as long as there's space.

Under the inspiration board is my clear stamp storage. There's also a bin of Christmas stamps on the top right shelf just below this.

The clear stamps are organized into categories: Birds & Bees (animals), Odds & Ends, Graphics (backgrounds, borders, shapes and such), Botany, Food & Drink, Autumn, Faith, Alphabets, Hero Arts Months (12 sets Hero came out with years ago for scrapbooking), Christmas (on the shelf below). As you can see, some sets here are in CD cases, and others are in transparency folders. I know it's crazy, but this doesn't bother me at all.

The short bookshelf contains two shoeboxes. The white one contains Christmas cards I've made, and the teal one contains Thanksgiving Crusade cards. The three white drawers on the top shelf have markers, spare ink pads (duplicates of pads on my desk, mostly gifts), and sponges and stipple brushes. The paisley box contains Christmas stamps, and the binders contain my stamp index that is so out of date as to be pretty much worthless.

The bottom shelf drawers contain scrapbooking markers, a bunch of spare Sharpies, and really rarely used ink pads like StampinUp's white craft ink, StazOn, and Palette pads. The purple folder contains label stickers, and the rest of the shelf holds various notebooks, magazines, and a dictionary because I'm an English major, and we're weird that way.

The tall bookshelf (7') holds lots of stuff. The white shoe boxes on the second and third shelves all contain wood-mounted rubber stamps, organized by theme (Backgrounds, Shadow, Trees, Fauna, Flowers, Spring/Summer/Fall, Winter, Faith, Occasions, Christmas, Alphabets, and so forth).

Because sometimes you need to be told to relax. And yes, there
are a couple of pear stamps on display. Because sometimes you need to laugh.

These pretty blue bins hold my Zentangles supplies and
supplies for mailing cards. The leather cases
hold Prismacolor pencils and watercolor pencils.

Office supplies (rubber bands, post-its, pencils, erasers, extra staples, etc.)
and a bin for completed cards complete the top shelf.

Top Shelf: stapler, baby wipes, a purple box of reinkers and a bin
for random large glue bottles and empty CD cases for new sets.
Next shelf: bead cases of infrequently-used embellishments,
white bin of border punches, box of envelopes, white
shoebox for cards received.

A special note about the bead cases of infrequently-used embellishments, such as buttons, brads, eyelets, and sequins. These bead cases lock, which means it's hard to spill them all over the place, and I highly recommend them for storing small items.

The bead cases used to reside in my embellishment drawers, but last year, when I realized they hardly ever were opened, I moved them out of the drawers and to the bookshelf. They've hardly been touched since (until today when I retrieved a single white eyelet for a project for IC580). I suspect I'll soon be able to move them into my unfinished basement area storage, where supplies go before being sold off, donated, or kept "because I might need them one day." I also suspect these will end up in the last category, especially after today's eyelet incident.

Now we come to the baker's rack, which I love. The top shelf contains pretty glass jars of ribbon that hardly ever gets used these days, but they are pretty so they stay. The green hanging file box behind the Angel of Courage contains specialty papers...rice paper, vellum, papers with bits of flowers or grass in them, glitter paper, wood veneer paper, etc. The mixing bowl (which belonged to my grandmother) holds a bunch of washi tape.

The next shelf contains card-stock storage in Cropper Hopper vertical magazine-style containers. One contains Papertrey colored card stock, another holds what's left of my StampinUp card stock, and the other holds various white card stocks. Next to that is a Cropper Hopper scrap holder for scraps of colored card stock, and a large watercolor block tablet.

Seeing so little white card stock reminds me I need to place a large order from Papertrey. I'm shocked the stash is so low!

The three storage drawers on the left side of that shelf hold cutting tools, including Fiskars ShapeCutter templates and cutter, and Creative Memories circle and oval cutters. The top drawer includes spare Exacto blades, a box cutter and spare blades, my StampinUp piercing tool kit, spare cutting blades and strips for the Fiskars rotary trimmer on my green desk, and so forth.

The twelve drawers on the bottom shelf hold all sorts of stuff, including envelopes (most A2s are in the big box on the bookshelf), clean washcloths for my stamp-cleaning needs, packaging supplies (such as clear boxes to hold card sets, coffee bags for food gifts, small zipper bags for whatever), fabric and book-binding supplies, laminating sheets, and of course circle, oval, and square punches that don't fit with the rest of the punches.

Under the baker's rack are two one-foot squares of good-one-side plywood with pieces of waxed paper between them and dumb-bells. These are for drying wet items that might curl...especially useful for drying book covers and watercolor backgrounds. The boards also come in handy when I stamp a large background stamp that I need to stand on.

And that's it. Wow, if you made it this far, I'm impressed. Even I'm bored now.

But my craft space is awesome, and I feel very lucky to have such a large space and so many drawers and boxes to store stuff in. Having an organized space means I can make a big mess with easy-to-find supplies, quickly clean up, and get back to making another mess.

That's how I work. Feel free to share your alternate methods of working in the comments, or ask any questions you have about any of the above. Tomorrow we will get back to business as usual.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


  1. fun getting a look at your organization and rationale for it! thanks

  2. Wonderful organization - it's great to see. I'm really working hard this year to have an organized room. Yours is awesome inspiration.

  3. I love the fact that your work space is not matchy matchy - it works for you and as a regular reader of your blog I know you produce fantastic art from it. Some craft rooms I've seen give the impression that it's all about the look of the room rather than the work/hobby done in it. Yours looks like you have thought about how best to use the things you have and evolved a system (that is still changing) that works for you. There are lots of great ideas here. Thanks for sharing.

  4. wow just totally jealous now - nothing more to say than pure utter jealously

  5. Thank you for sharing. I will some day have a craft space but for now I am gathering ideas. I personally love to see craft spaces, it brings me great joy but occasionally the green eyed monster rears his head. I gain solace by believing their space doesn't always look Home & Gardens perfect. :D Liz

  6. Your space is awesome Susan. You inspire me. I am going to take some "before" photos of my space today. I will email them to you. Then I can brag if I ever finish. Part of my problem is that I vowed to put nothing away until I could say that's where it was going to stay; and be there for a reason.

    I have challenged myself to spend at least a few hours a week working at it. (Wedging that in between stripping some wallpaper border in my master bath). Oh, and work and the grandkids and hubby and sleep and....

  7. I wish I had a tenth of that space for my supplies. I live in an RV and my stash is tucked into any space I can find. I also must put it away when I'm finished working.

  8. I am particularly impressed that you label every drawer. I feel like that would help me a lot and I wouldn't have to do the whole "what's in drawer number 1?" Show every time I'm looking for something. Thanks so much for all these pictures to go with your posts!

  9. I've loved this. I think it is as much about how minds work as it is about organization. I split up some of my stamp sets in a way that I couldn't explain clearly--sometimes even to myself! Which says something about how my mind words. Or not. Tim Holtz says you don't have to store inks upside down; any way is fine. (Except for Distress Markers. They should be stored on their sides, with no elevation.)

  10. Love your well thought out organization of your craft space. Especially like the idea of specifically adding in the element of getting out of the chair to retrieve needed items! One thought on the 'stray, unremembered sentiments: Since you always use every new stamp set before putting it away, why not start a small notebook (ring binder for ease of organization) that you stamp each sentiment under it's corresponding category. I started this a while ago and love that I can turn to the tab for 'thinking of you' and find all the stamps I have for that that aren't in a Thinking of You set. Just note the name of the set under the stamp image. I started this the middle of last year for all new incoming sets, but need to get in there and get the older sets done. :) Thanks again for sharing your 'happy place'.
    Lu C

  11. Wonderful organization and a system that works really well. Thank you for sharing it. I see you also use Cougar envelopes and wondered where you buy them. My stock is getting very low and I need to get another box. The place I usually buy them went to wholesale only so I'm out of luck.

  12. Thanks for sharing your room in detail! My general overall take from this is that you have a reasonable amount of stash, yes even all those different inks are reasonable, while I have an excess. I have these cool large square glass jars filled with paper flowers one for each color. I have small containers of buttons and many stashes of ribbon. I thought to myself someday after I use enough stash I can add the ribbon and buttons into each jar by color family as well. I think that time will be 300 years from now at my current rate.

    As for sentiment stamps I'm glad to hear your thoughts on them and see how you store them, especially those in sets of other things. I have pondered setting up a few cases of frequently used phrases and taking said phrases out of set to populate them. That way they get used. You've inspired me to do that. That should cut down the time it takes me to find the perfect font/phrase for my card.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!