Hi there all you crafty storage mavens! It’s Noelle popping in today with a peek at my new unmounted stamp and die storage. I am so excited to share this with you! I have missed you, I am starting a new job and cutting back on all my commitments right now. Dear Rebecca has asked me to stay on as Contributor, but I am only posting when I can (Contributor-At-Large?). Thanks Rebecca! I love posting here, so I’m glad to still be able to pop by occasionally.
Last week, I was chatting with some other designers about keeping it fresh and someone brought up that reorganizing their stash helps them clean out the old gear, see what they have, and inspire that creative “zip” once more. What say you, dear readers? Do you feel that some reorganizing can light up that creative fire under you? I have been struggling with some “stamper’s block” over these last weeks. Just SO much going on, and when I have time to stamp I have no idea where to start. I know that in the past, reorganizing and cleaning has helped me a lot! So, I decided to tackle a project that’s been on my mind for a while now.
I had read Jennifer McGuire’s article on how she stores her stamps. I decided to look around for a similar method for mine. I didn’t want a letter sized binder or something that when open was going to take up a lot of precious “flat space real estate” on my small desk. I have so many different kinds of stamps; acrylic, photopolymer, and cling rubber. All are from dozens of different manufacturers. Plus, the sets I have range from a tiny single stamp to large sets that might include 30 or more stamps on a 10” sheet. So, I figured that mine might not be quite as pretty as her photos show. I knew I would definitely need different sizes of pockets but still loved the idea of being able to quickly flip through them.
I ended up going with some CD sleeves from Office Max that are similar to these (see photo below for the exact ones I used) for the smaller ones which covered the bulk of my stamps. They don’t have the ones I bought online, however. These sleeves have a clear plastic CD pocket on either side of the sleeve, and some white fabric-y stuff in the middle. They were 10.99 for a pack of 50. At 21 cents a piece, that’s a pretty affordable solution! I ended up buying 4 packs of these with some leftover sleeves for the future. You may not have the stamp multiplying problem that I have and may not need nearly as many! I’m grateful for the crafty design work I do, because it means I get a lot of fun free stuff in the mail.
Since I did this, I’ve seen the CD sleeves even cheaper (I believe the link I sent you to shows them cheaper), but it was a side load sleeve, meaning that seam that I ended up using for the labels would be on the side of the sleeve, not the top if you stored them so the pocket opening is at the top. If I had started out that way I wouldn’t have minded, but since I was already 70% of the way done when I had to buy more, I decided to stick with the original ones I had already purchased.
For the medium and large pockets I got these plastic pockets from Office Depot in 4×6 and 5×8 sizes. I have heard great things about the Avery Elle Stamp Storage Pockets too. But I had a lot of sets that were 8” tall, and I did not want them to stick out the top of the pockets. The ones I got are a bit more expensive that the Avery Elle ones, coming in at about 49-59 cents a piece. But I like that I can pick them up at the local office store, and they are really nice heavy plastic, with a notch at the top so you can easily pull the set out. I think I ended up buying 40 4×6 pockets and 60 5×8 pockets, which added up quickly. Can you say cha-ching? Throw in 4 rolls of label tape for my label maker, and this was not the cheapest project. But I love it SO much, that the cost was worth it for me. You could also do something like this buying a pack or 2 of pockets every week until you had as many as you needed to keep your budget on track.
One thing I decided to change from my former storage solutions was that I opted to store the stamps and dies together this time. I used to keep stamps and dies separate, with stamps in their original packaging in these metal tubs (see 1st pic below). The small ones always fell to the bottom, and inevitably the cello packaging would tear. Some of my dies were on magnetic cards, but the cards would tangle, and the small dies tended to fall off. In many cases, I ended up slipping the magnetic card right into one of these pockets, so my cards are still valuable.
A few of the sets were too large even for the 5×8 pockets. A few sets got cut in half and fit into the pocket anyway as to keep with their original manufacturers . The rest of the random large sets went into my Tim Holtz Unmounted Stamp Binder. They fit perfectly!
I now have everything arranged by manufacturer, so all my Paper Smooches dies are with my Paper Smooches stamps, etc. If there was a coordinating die and stamp set, I included the die in the sleeve with the stamps. On these CD sleeves, I actually could use the pocket on the backside of the sleeve, but on the larger sets with dies, I just dropped the die/s in with the set. I have these arranged mostly alphabetically by manufacturer. But, The Cat’s Pajamas product took up two entire baskets! Since I design for them, I have almost everything they make, so they get their own 2 baskets.
I used my own shorthand to label the manufacturer, so “TCP” is The Cat’s Pajamas, “PS” is Paper Smooches and so on. I know what each one is, so it’s all good. I labeled each one with the manufacturer shorthand and the set or die’s name. This way when I’m linking readers up to specific stamp sets, I have the right set name to find the link quickly.
One way to save space and money on this project is to put two single stamps or mini sets into one pocket together. I utilized this a lot. If there was a contact card, I sometimes put the card in the front pocket and the stamps in the back pocket.
One place I saved a little coin was on the containers. I found these blue baskets at my local Dollar Tree, so they were only a buck each. I can honestly not believe I got all these stamps and dies into 6 baskets. 238 stamp sets, plus dozens of dies. It saved a lot of space in my studio and each basket takes up only a small amount of room on my desk when I pull them out to flip through. The baskets also work nicely for my 6″ paper pads, so I used the two I had leftover for that. They also fit perfectly on my shelves. that was a happy accident, since I didn’t measure. But I love that they don’t overhang the shelf. After much debate, I kept my Stampin’ Up stamps in their original containers, as I wasn’t interested in “un-mounting” the wood stamps. Their cling stamps come in nice cases already. I may eventually move the Stampin’ Up! cling stamps to this kind of storage, I am still on the fence about that.
All in all, I am LOVING this, I can see so much better what I have, and it’s much easier to find what I’m looking for. I also love having things arranged by manufacturer, and keeping dies with coordinating stamps in the same pocket has been wonderful. I hope this helps you “stash your stash” a bit better today.