I love to have everything organized; I might even be a tiny bit obsessive about it. ;) But I find that I make better use of what I have when I can find it. :)
I’ve spent a good bit of time organizing my stash. I keep trying different methods of organizing until I find something that works. We all approach the creative process differently so I don’t think there is one way to set-up a studio that works for everyone. But over the next month I’m going share some of the insights I gained while experimenting and what worked and what didn’t work for me. So, today I'm going to talk about ribbon and stamp storage.
So, let me start by saying, one of the primary features I need in storage is space-efficiency. I am fortunate enough to have a small studio space in the house, but it is also the guest room/home office. So, the better I am at saving space, the more stash I can have. :) The other thing I struggle with is keeping the manufacturer name attached to the items. If you ever submit for publication, you need to know this information about the products you used.
I first got the Ribbon Ring system in April 2008, so I’ve been using for almost a year now, and I still love it. It has been really easy to maintain. I set it up on the back of a closet door with some inexpensive hooks. I have a ring for each color grouping. And so I can identify the manufacturer, I added a little label to each tag. I found the labels at the office supply store and getting all of the labels printed and attached took about an hour - it was totally worth it! And I keep some extras labels of each brand printed so they are ready to go when I get a couple pieces of new ribbon. And sometimes I just handwrite the manufacture on the label. It’s a very easy system to maintain.
Before Ribbon Ring, I stored my ribbon on chipboard cards within baskets (image below). This system worked for a while, but as I got more ribbon the baskets got packed tight making it hard to get the cards in and out and I was always sticking myself with the pins that held the ribbons on the cards. If space is not a problem, this is another nice way to store ribbon - it looks nice and tidy. I still have one small basket for the ribbon that is too wide to store in the ribbon ring system.
Over a year ago I removed all of my stamps from their wooden blocks. Some them came right off with a little pulling, but some had to be placed in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Once I had them removed from the blocks, I attached the mounting foam and trimmed it to the stamp shape. This really takes some time. You need a pair of Kia scissors and the adhesive on the foam is really sticky and you have to clean the scissors often. I recommend the thin static mounting foam for stamps that already have a layer of foam backing. If you use the standard-thickness foam on a rubber stamp that already has some foam backing, it can make the stamp too thick; especially smaller stamps and they have a tendency to wobble when you use them. (I got my thin foam at blockheadstamps.com). You are left with a lot of wooden blocks when you finish this process. I have used some in other projects, if you find a good use for these, let me know. :)
After you have the stamps prepared, you can store them a number of ways. The current method I use is CD cases. I've been using this system since June 2008 and it has been working very well. It is easy to see what stamps I have and the CD cases are easy to handle. To make the key sheets, I actually find the images of the stamps on-line or scan it from the package, the wooden block, or a stamped image. I assemble the images onto sheets digitally and print these onto to large sticker sheets that I adhere to the CD case. The low-tech version would be to just stamp the images onto the sticker paper. Either way, this is time consuming when you first set-up the system. But maintenance as you but new stamps is easy. I even put all of my clear stamps on these cards. So now I have a little stack of those printed plastic sheets that come packaged with the clear stamps. I'm saving them to use on future projects.
The first method I tried after the stamp were removed from wood blocks used a system of large clear envelopes with plastic sheets that were stored in baskets. I placed the stamps onto the plastic sheets and made image keys for each sheet so I could see what stamps were in each envelope. I stored stamps on both the front and the back of the card. The conversion to this from wood blocks saved a ton of space and made it easier to look through the stamps, I could flip though them like file folders.
The problem I found with the storage system above is that one envelope contained too many stamps. The sheets were large and they took a lot of room on my desk. And when handling them, the weight of the stamps would cause them to bend and sometimes stamps would fall off. My advice if you are thinking about this type of stamp storage is to make the cards a little smaller and only store stamps on one side. I still maintain a few of these cards/envelopes for the stamps that are too large for the CD cases. I keep them in a magazine file next to the CD cases.