Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday School - Mission: Organization (The Paper Problem)

Okay CraftyStealers, it’s time for another round of Mission: Organization! We’ve already organized our punches , our scraps, and our clear stamps.  Today, I’m tackling the big dog.  That's right folks, I'm taming the patterned paper.  As some of you may remember, when I first introduced myself at the beginning of the year, I admitted that I am a hoarder of patterned paper.  Try as I may, I just can’t resist a pretty piece - and working at CraftySteals hasn’t helped matters much. :)

Now, we all know that organizing paper is very personal.  What system works for one may not work for another.  We all work in different ways, right? What kind of scrapper you are determines the best way to organize your paper stash.  What kind of scrapper am I? Well, I tend to be a person that buys paper I love even if I have no project in mind for it.  Down the road, I might take a picture and think “Oh, that Bella paper would be perfect for these pictures.”  But chances of me figuring out exactly WHERE that paper is, didn’t used to be so good.  In fact, many times I have lost my mojo because it took me so darn long to find the right paper (or I spent the whole 30 minutes of spare time I had and have zero left to get any actual craft work done!).  I wasn't getting any real paper crafting done and something needed to change.  Since I knew I wasn't going to be able to control the patterned paper hoarding beast inside, I could at least figure out how to control how the paper is stored.

Before I embarked on this paper project, I had paper stashed all over my craft room.  In drawers, under my desk and even crammed in clear plastic storage boxes in random rooms in my house.  See?

The papers were not in a convenient place or stored in a way that made me WANT to look through them.  (Not that it ever stopped me from acquiring more!).  Since I am trying to make an effort to use up my stash, I knew I needed to make it more accessible.  I think I did a pretty darn good job at making paper easy to find while making sure my craft room looks good too.  So here’s what my tips are for you:

Go through your stash and take out any papers that don’t appeal to you.  Now I’m not saying throw them away, but if you really don’t think they go with your style, there’s no point in letting them take up valuable crafty real estate! If you have enough you could try to sell them (Ebay or Craiglist could work), give them to a friend, your children, or see if a local church, school, nursing home or hospital might like them.  If all else fails, you could try Freecycle.  This freed up a LOT of space for me.  I've been collecting paper for about 12 years and as much as I hate waste, I knew I would never use this some of these papers (like this one, that I think is still pretty, but doesn't go with my style anymore)
Here’s where it gets personal.  You can sort by color, by theme, or by manufacturer (I’m sure there are other ways too, but these are the ones I thought of).  I did a little bit of everything.  If I had a lot of papers from a specific line, I sorted by line and manufacturer.  I sorted some of my papers into themes: Holidays, School, Sports, Travel, Characters (Thomas the Train, Disney).  Then whatever was left over was sorted by color (I sorted patterns by choosing the dominant color in the pattern).  My cardstock was all sorted by color.  Stacks were left in stacks to be dealt with as a group.

Choose your containers carefully AFTER you see what you need and how you will use it! (in other words, don't just buy pretty boxes because they are on sale!)
As you can see in my photos, my storage was mainly horizontal storage.  I didn’t like that at all.  I find it soooo much easier to thumb through paper that is stored vertically.  Making the decision to store all my paper vertically made it easy to get rid of some organizers I already had (that weren't doing their job). I sold my wire paper organizing rack that was under my desk (It was doubly hard to look through paper when I had to crouch under my desk!) and emptied my drawers. 

Instead, I invested in some clear Cropper Hopper Paper Storage bins to store on the top of the shelves in my craft room.  I labeled each Cropper Hopper (using my trusty label-maker) with the names of each manufacturer and line. Many paper kits came in their own plastic sleeves, so I used those to store the individual lines.  I also purchased some black and white envelopes (I just lucked out that I found some on clearance and they match my craft room) to hold more paper lines by manufacturer.  Another cheap idea is to buy massive Ziplocs. Again, I labeled each envelope with my label-maker (love that thing!)  The Cropper Hopper that stores the themed paper has dividers (each divider is labeled with the contents).  I tend to buy cardstock for backgrounds – mostly white, cream and kraft.  Other colors, I usually buy piece by piece on a project basis, and now ALL of my cardstock is now stored by color in one Cropper Hopper. 
As for my 6X6 pads (I’m beginning to acquire these as I LOVE the versatility of them), they are now stored in a DVD storage box (Thanks IKEA!)
Last thing I had to deal with was paper stacks.  Before I started getting sucked into the world of individual papers, I bought a couple of stacks.  I do like to use these for cards and mini albums (since there are so many coordinating papers).  Luckily, I have a storage shelf built into my desk that is perfect for storing stacks.  I labeled the spines so that I can easily find the one I need (and don’t forget to use it since it won’t be hidden in a drawer anymore!
It has made a world of difference even in the short week I’ve had it finished.  When I got some pictures developed I was actually able to FIND the papers I had "matched" them to in my head.  Miraculous! (Well, miraculous that I finally buckled down and got everything organized).
Hope my tips helped you a bit.  Tell us, how do YOU store your papers? Any fun and creative ways you’ve come up with to make shopping your stash any easier?

Happy Crafting!


  1. Great tips...thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for the tips. I get stuck on the sorting part. I started out by color then with some of the patterns is a matter of "what color is it" and then I think well maybe I should do themes and then I just sort of stop sorting!

  3. LOL...loved your comment about taming the paper hoarding beast inside you! I have the same affliction! I store by manufacturer since I seem to remember "my stash" in that way. I like your idea of labeling the Cropper Hopper on the outside and using the CD cases for holding 6 x 6 pad. I will be trying that! tfs your ideas.

  4. I hadn't thought of using DVD storage for the 6x6 pads. I need to purge the papers I don't use.

  5. ACK! I have that sheet of paper you showed!! OMG, that's HILARIOUS!!! Great tips!! :)