Organizing your supplies is one of the most important parts of being a productive scrapper. (After all, if you can’t find your stuff, you won’t get very much done!) The key is finding a system that works for you. Do some research, visit some websites, ask your scrap friends, and develop your own method of organizing your supplies; this is your best chance for staying tidy as you scrap, not adopting someone else’s method.
Below is my method of organization, which I developed through research, trial, and error:
The most important part of your scrap space is your work surface; I know, because I’ve tried lots of them! I started out with a Rubbermaid box in the closet for all my supplies and I scrapped on the dining room table; once my stash grew, I graduated to a card table and a small 4-drawer rolling cart. When we moved in 2000, our new apartment had a built-in “ledge” desk with 3 long shelves above it. This seemed perfect until I realized I couldn’t customize the layout to suit my needs. A year later we moved again, so I bought a 5 x 3 folding table, prepared to really spread out my supplies and have everything I needed right at my fingertips (this turned out to be a bad idea, because it all became one jumbled mess on top of the table!) So I finally admitted defeat and bought a smaller table. This 4 x 2 table from Lifetime is sturdy and durable; I also have a 2nd table that stays folded up when I’m not scrapping, in case I ever need to take it to a crop. Best of all, I only have a few things that stay out all the time, so it’s easier to keep things tidy.
As you can imagine, I quickly outgrew that small 4-drawer cart. When I bought the smaller table, I also bought 2 large carts that have 7 drawers each; one sits on each side of my table with 2 wooden shelves and 2 smaller 3-drawer units on top. The shelves are perfect for all the boxes and bins that used to sit on top of or underneath the table! These hold stamps, ink pads and embossing powders, eyelets, brads, buttons, charms, wire, etc. Frequent-use tools are in the Everything Mary tote on the left side of the desk (since I’m a lefty). My templates are in a notebook that also sits on this shelf; themed embellishments & papers (holiday, travel, etc.) are in the ScrapRack on the right. And I have a storage unit of 6 wire “cubes” that hold albums, page kits, and keepsakes. Now all I have under the table are a couple of small boxes, my foot rest, and my rolling travel bag (which, by the way, is not a made-for-scrapping bag; it was $12.44 on clearance at Target, one of my favorite places to buy storage items!)
Your paper is the most important thing to have right at your fingertips. You will use paper for mounting, matting, punch art, paper piecing, journaling blocks, and more! There are lots of paper storage products on the market, but the most effective method I’ve found is the Cropper Hopper 12×12 class tote. Pre-cut mats are in their own Paper Taker sorted by color.
The second most important thing to have well-organized are your photos. This is one of the most time-consuming sorting jobs you will ever do, but it will be well worth it. First, plan what types of albums you want to do: one for each year? one for each child? special collections like a birthday album and a holiday album? Then sort your photos into piles for each album, and put each pile in order for the album. As far as storage for your photos, choose something that works for you – photo storage boxes with dividers, or an accordion file with tabs for each section, or [my favorite] my purple Cropper Hopper photo case.
If you’re like most scrappers, you have at least a few magazines and books to help in those moments of “scrapper’s block.” But how do you remember what’s in each one? The easiest solution I’ve found is to put adhesive “flags” on the articles or layouts I really like, then copy each table of contents and highlight the articles with flags. The photocopied pages are in a notebook; the magazines and books themselves are in media storage boxes on a bookcase [those I refer to most – Becky Higgins, Rebecca Sower, Memory Makers and PaperKuts books – sit on my shelf over the table]. All the resources I’ve printed from the Internet go in their own notebook, divided into categories.
Two other things to consider are good lighting and a good chair. I have an Ott Lite, which lights my work surface nicely. The chair is an adjustable-height, sturdy office chair with padded arms that gives my back the support it needs for those long scrapping sessions. After all, you can’t scrap with tired eyes and a sore body! [I also have a wooden foot rest that a friend made for me because my legs are short – see my Links page for an article about setting up an ergonomic workspace.] And don’t forget inspiration – you need things around your work space to inspire you, like music, favorite creations, and artwork by others!
In the fall of 2019, crafting began sharing space with work as I transitioned from in-office research assistant to at-home medical transcriptionist. My hubby gave up his small table, and we got him a wooden corner desk. My chair swivels back and forth easily between work and play. This also allows me easy access to my laptop for research and blogging!
I hope these suggestions have been helpful to you in making your own decisions about how you will organize your scrap space. If you have any questions or need any advice, feel free to email me personally and I’ll do my best to help you out!