Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Good, the Bad... AND yes, the Ugly!! - Organization Part 1

I believe last week I mentioned that I was going to share some organizational tips with you AND that I wouldn't just share all the good stuff, but the bad stuff as well. Today I took a picture of my desk. I should be thoroughly embarrassed to show you all this... It looks so bad... See that tiny little pink area that has nothing on it? That's my work area!! lol I'm working on so many things right now, it's not even funny! It's a freakin' disaster area!! And I don't mean *just* my desk. The whole room is. It's amazing I can get anything accomplished, isn't it? I'm trying to pack it up and keep track of all the little things I need to complete projects. Don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm getting ready to switch my craft room into a bigger bedroom. What I really want is like a 10x20 room out in the backyard; complete with a telephone, electrical outlets at every other wall stud, fabulous lighting, couple of ceiling fans, AC/heat, bathroom, and a nice sink for clean up. Is that too much to ask? hmmmm... I don't think so! :-) I'll just have to be patient, but can you tell I've put A LOT of thought into this?
STAMP ORGANIZATION - this is the first topic I'll write about. Organizing your stamps is not just about where you put them, but also how you categorize and catalog them.

Some of you have probaby been stamping for a long time and feel as though it would be impossible to "attack" your stamps to organize strictly because it would be such a daunting task. Take baby steps! This is not a race! A project like this is something you do not want to have to do again. Take some time to put some thought into the process. You'll save yourself a lot of time in the end.
  • Start by searching the internet for storage ideas. Keep a notebook of any ideas you think would work for you. Whether you rip pictures out of magazines, draw your room on graph paper like I did, save internet pictures in an "Organizational" folder, or save blogs that inspire you to an "Organizational" favorites folder, the resources are out there, you only have to find them.
  • This does not have to cost you any money. Use what you have unless you have the money to upgrade some or all of your storage. When I moved from our 4th bedroom downstairs to the 3rd (and smallest) bedroom upstairs, I made the change to the white JetMax storage cubes that are available at Hobby Lobby, Michaels and ACMoore. They are cheapest at Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Just remember this... whether or not you've been stamping for a long period of time, this process will take several days/weeks to finesse and make your own. Don't try to rush it! You'll be happier with the end result.
  • Drawer storage system for mounted stamps - in order to store multiple layers of stamps in a drawer, you must use some type of sturdy material that the stamps will sit on in order to make layers. Also remember that you will be lifting the layers out of the drawer when you are looking for a particular stamp, which means you need "finger room." This means you need to cut the material a couple inches shorter than the depth of the drawer. 
    • I bought foam board at Hobby Lobby. It was approximately 20"x30" and $1.50 per sheet on sale for 50% off. Since then, I've seen the same sheets at Michaels for the same cost.
    • If you have the JetMax cubes, you can get 3 layers of stamps into one drawer; that's potentially 9 layers of stamps in one cube! One sheet of foam board will give you 2 pieces for your layers.
    • The plastic Iris drawers will hold two layers. Don't know how many pieces you would get out of 1 sheet as I have never done this with any other type of drawer. 
    • Save the leftover pieces because you may be able to use them for something else as you organize more and more of your room/area.
  • I have my clear stamps in the old standard sized CD cases that have been purchased at Big Lots. You only have to snap out the back piece that holds the CD; it's very easy. The majority of these stamps are stored by company. My "cheaper" clear stamps are stored by very narrow categories.
    • For example, one CD would contain all Merry Christmas words. Another would contain all Happy Holidays words. Another may have presents and balloons or cakes and candles. If I don't have a lot in a particular category, I will make the category broader. I don't have many baby or child related stamps so I have 3 CDs, one is called baby, one is girls, and the last is boys. I'm sure this will change once I become a grandma. :-)
  • Stamps that are plain old bare rubber are stored by company because I don't have very many. The majority of these are my Stamping Bellas which I have in standard CD cases. I have put tape on the backs to keep them in place. These are organized by artist and then category.
  • Stampin' Up! sets - I have a huge selection of SU! stamps, especially since I've been using their stamps for 10 years. I keep them in their containers and store them by broad category. I have 3 2-drawer JetMax cubes that have 2 canvas drawers in them each. I do not allow myself to exceed these 6 drawers. Needless to say, when SU! came out with the cling stamps, I was a massively happy camper. 
    • Any sets that I would never get rid of were unmounted onto cling foam that I bought from Ellen Hutson and 7 Kids College Fund.
      • There are 2 kinds of cling foam. One is a standard foam that is the thickness of how cling foam stamps come normally. The other is a very thin cling foam that is perfect for mounting your SU! stamps on if the foam is still attached when it's removed from the wood block. If the rubber came off of the foam, no biggie... mount it on the standard cling foam.
    • I purchased additional DVD boxes from SU! for all the sets I was going to unmount. What I didn't take into consideration was that this was the perfect way to store any additional cling foam stamps I owned. I don't have very many and since they are so varied in category, I have opted to store them by company at this time.
    • As far as the SU! sets go... I put as many sets as I can fit into 1 box. Carefully go through the sets to see which ones are the most similar, see if they will all fit into the case, and then proceed with the unmounting process. I have fit as many as 4 sets into 1 box! I do not change how my DVD boxed stamps come from SU!. No matter how badly I want to add another set or 2, I force myself to leave it alone. Just step away! lol
  • Another important aspect of stamp organization, is how to "file" your stamps. When I have done classes based on a particular company, I stored my stamps by company. All other stamps were stored by category. For many years, I categorized by a broad category, then narrowed the category down into smaller ones.
    • For example, a broad category would be nature. Then, under nature, you would have these sub-categories: trees, leaves, flowers, wings (which would encompass birds & bugs), and so on. I recently got rid of the broad category and just store my stamps under the smaller categories. Wings, in itself, can be a fairly broad category depending on how many "wing-like" stamps you have. Once I move to my new room, this category will be broken down into smaller categories: birds, butterflies, insects, etc. Write down your categories and figure out how you can best organize your stamps. Try to leave yourself a bit of room for growth so you aren't moving things around too frequently.
  • Once you have gone through the process of putting your stamps in their new home, you will want to keep everything as neat and clean as possible.
    • When I set up my drawers, I bought drawer liner at the dollar store to put only in the bottom of each drawer to protect the surface. I don't do this with the layers because foam board is cheap enough that I don't mind if it gets a little dirty. I have never had to replace any of the foam board layers.
    • If I don't have time to clean my stamps as I go, I keep them in a small basket and clean them all at once. This helps to save on stamp cleaner.
    • Try to put your stamps back in the same place you got them from. You may want to take a picture of how each layer is situated so you don't forget where anything goes.
  • Lastly, we come to cataloging your stamps. Several years ago, I started an Excel spreadsheet that lists every stamp I have. This system of organization is broken down into several workbooks.
    • Workbook 1 is the Master List of Stamps. Each spreadsheet within the workbook is a letter or group of letters. So if one worksheet is "A-C," then all companies that begin with an "A," "B," or "C" will be listed under that spreadsheet.
    • Workbook 2 is all wood mounted stamps. The spreadsheets are still alphabetical as in Workbook 1, but when I own a lot of stamps for a particular company (A Muse, Memory Box, Inkadinkado, etc), they get their own spreadsheet. I generally use over 50 stamps as a guideline to list them on their own sheet.
    • Workbook 3 is all unmounted stamps. They are organized the same as Workbook 2.
    • This takes a lot of time to do. Probably more time than any of the other tasks you have done thus far. If you have been stamping forever and don't know which stamps are from which company or what their names are, start your cataloging from this point forward. 
      • I have bare rubber stamps that I don't know which company they belong to. When I get bare rubber stamps now, I write the name on the back of the stamp with a Sharpie. 
Wowza... that was way longer than I anticipated. Future organizational blog posts should not be quite so long. I think stamps are the most problematic items to organize in your room/area. Hopefully this has helped you in one way or another. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. I will email you the answer and later compose a post addressing multiple questions.

I couldn't leave you with that horror in your head as to what my desk looks like so here is the after picture. Much better, huh? I'm in the process of reorganizing how I organize my stuff based on some ideas I've gotten from the sources I gave you all the way in the beginning of my post. I like to think of myself as being in a state of perpetual reorganization. Mouthful, I know, but it helps me to justify the messiness of the room. Unless you have the perfect space with all the perfect organization installed, we are all in the same boat. I can only say that I aspire to be more organized and less messy.

Happy stamping til the next time!

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