Organizing Pens and Foam Stamps

I have two little tips for organization today – I am still in the throes of it, I’m afraid, but OMG I am loving both the process and the results!

First, pens.  I have a lot of pens.  Some come with their own organization, like my Copic boxes, so they are done when they come.  Other pens, especially specialist pens, come in their packaging, which may or may not work in whatever system you use.  I do have an old pen tray from my mate Debbie’s shop (I think she just gave it to me as she had a retail rack and didn’t need it) but there are two problems with it.  First, the holes are small so it really only fit the pens it was designed for – I found a LOT of my pens didn’t fit so its footprint was large but it was under-utilized – and second, because of that it became a catch-all for a bunch of random stuff.  It was hard to actually find the pen I wanted in it.

Now, for me, a BIG part of the organization is thinking about how you use things.  Rather than having my specialist pens scattered all over in various places where they fit, I wanted them all grouped together so that storage became my go-to place when I wanted a Pitt pen, or a white gel pen or a Parallel pen.  I had seen someplace (probably Pinterest – isn’t that where all the good ideas are nowadays?) a desk organizer using toilet paper rolls but didn’t like the big size of the rolls and the fact it was loose, no bottom.  I had a ton of laundry tab tubs, from reorganizing my ribbons into the back-of-the-door hangers, and that had become the temporary catch-all for my special pens as I was sorting.  Hey presto!

I got an old, quite thick and sturdy but not wide tube from Christmas wrapping paper (who doesn’t have a ton of them this time of year?) and cut it into smaller tubes.


I arranged six of them in a 3×3 grid and taped them all together. The arrangement fit the tub I had.  Then I just grouped the pens in the tubes, in the tub.


There was enough room to fit my Permopaque markers at the back (they are quite thick) and all my white gel pens at the side. I also fit in the instruction manual for the parallel pens.


Thinking about my process I know when I want a certain KIND of pen, these are the ones I want to browse.  If a Sharpie doesn’t work, a Pitt pen might, or a Micron one.  If black isn’t right, white might be.  With them all in one place, all grouped, it makes selecting the right one a breeze! Not the most stunning piece, but  am all about the Workflow, not the pretty.

Next, back to stamps for a bit.  YEARS ago (OMG so many years ago) I had come up with a nifty storage solution for my foam stamps.  I HATE having them all in a jumble, and having to hunt thru them all to find the letters I want.  And they are so thick, they take up a lot of space.  I got some paper keepers (from my local Staples) and had one set in each one.  That was wasteful and again took up too much space.  Plus, when you tipped the box, the letters all slid around a lot, or ended up in a jumble, as the box was thicker than the letter stamps.

What I did was add a couple of sheets of acetate, fairly thick sheets, over each side of the box and stuck it over the hinge.  I did this with plain tape, and it was starting to rip.

Today I took the two sheets out, and created a full length hinge with Washi tape, like so, leaving a little gap in the middle.


I put this sheet back in place and the box was good to go once more.

foamstamps foamstamps3

That yellow is actually a piece of craft foam.  The slight extra thickness and the texture, keeps these thinner stamps from sliding around too much.  There is a bit of velcro at the sides to keep the acetate in place.

I had another two sets that could use arranging like this but I didn’t have any more thick acetate.   I did have loads of those report covers from the stamp binder organization!

So, I added tape to the existing hinges of the box, and stuck the fold of the report cover to that. Use strong tape so it holds.

foamstamps4 foamstamps5

The report covers don’t allow the box to close as easily as the Washi hinge does, but it does close. I snipped top and bottom, down to the hinge, which helps a bit.


Then I  added the velcro to the sides.  The sticky-backed velcro doesn’t stick as well to the slightly slick report covers, so I just added a staple.


The final piece of velcro went on the inside of the box, so it folded over the piece on the report cover to secure it. I added a bit of patterned paper over the sticky back that was stuck to nothing – recognize it from the card yesterday?  LOL!


The only thing left to do is to print a sample of the alpha from a shopping site image (so it can be smaller that the HUGE stamps) and put that on the side of the box so I can quickly see what is inside.

I still have a couple of sets of foam stamps in their original plastic boxes, but they are in a real state – they NEVER fit back in as well as they did, and I still have to paw thru them all to find what I want, so I need to unearth the other boxes like this I have and get them organized too.

I have also realized that labeling drawers is a must.  More about that in another post …


Stamp re-org – so close!

I am so very close to being done!  I need to print some labels for the binders and boxes and finish up stamping my wooden stamps.  I decided NOT to stamp certain ones – like I have a whole drawer of little scenic elements (tufts of grass, sandy hills, rocks in a stream, etc) and I know I would want to look at ALL of them so I don’t see the point of stamping them to add to different sections of the binders because I am very unlikely to use them unless I am stamping a scene. I also have a very small pile of unmounted stamps that I need to mount. Otherwise, I am done.

Here is my revised shelf with the binders:


I’ll do the labels for each binder – what I have is three of stamps and one smaller one of text and sentiments. I still have my boxes, too – one with my stamp tool stamps (like the Stamp Around the Page stamps, and the stupid roller stamp think from Fiskars – god I hate that and wish I had never spent the money on it but can’t bring myself to throw it out or sell it on.  I just use the stamp sheets on a mount), one with all my STEAMPUNK images, and one with all my texture/background stamps.  You can see them above the CD cases in the photo. The CD cases have stamp sets or groupings that I don;t use often, like the Mona or Alice stamps.  The big backgrounds are all in a group, like my 6 x 6 overall patterns.


The baseball card sleeves worked a treat for this!  I can immediately see like text and I have grouped them in ways that make sense to me.

I also have stamped MOST of my wood mounts.  I grouped them too, but where there were stamps that went together I added the pair.  For example, you can see I have the little monk trimming something. He is one the sheet with the MEN and also on the sheet that has the nuns. Likewise Bald Bill has Bald Hillary stamped next to him – just to remind me they are a matched set.


I am also grouping things on the sheet – I feel comfortable doing this with the wood mounts because I KNOW it is very unlikely that I will buy many more of this sort of stamp in the future.  That makes me less concerned about “fitting in” new stamps that belong with an existing group. So for example, I often use the three crying girls together, so they are together on the sheet.


When I have a set of stamps I am stamping them in a group, like the Gorey set at the top here.


I still have my alphas in a drawer.  I thought about stamping a sample (maybe just A B C 1 2 3) and putting them in a binder, but again, it seems pointless.  I would still go to the drawers and look at them.  I’ve grouped them by SIZE where I can as that seems like it would be the criteria for choosing an alphabet.


I also have all my Stampotique stamps in one large drawer.  No need to change that, based on how I use them.

Now I just have to decide if I want to tackle the mounting NOW or put it off for a bit.  Having touched virtually every stamp I own, I am more anxious to USE them.

Phew.  That was exhausting, but very very satisfying!



WOYWW 190 – still with the stamps….

Happy snowy WOYWW day.  Not sure at this point if DD will be home or not. Since she had a sore throat yesterday I am thinking that she may be home anyway, even if the roads are clear – with a 40 minute trip to her school it wouldn’t be the worst thing….

I am slowly making my way thru my stamp stash and getting it all organized.  Gosh the comments on the last couple of posts have been SO informative and I am amazed at how other people organize their stamps!  The number who do spreadsheets to capture every bit of info about a stamp is astonishing, even in my small sample. And when did blogging become a conversation?  LOL!  I don’t often reply to comments, unless someone asks a direct question, but the last few days I have commented on MY OWN BLOG more than I have in the last 4 years (well, maybe not, but darn close!) and it has all but fascinating … to ME anyway!

People have taken the time to add so much information, and it has been such a help in fine-tuning my not-original idea.  Deeply appreciated.

So that is what is on my W this W.  I am now working on collecting up the stray clear stamps from various places, and stamping index sheets for my wood mount and foam stamps (except alphas) to add to the binders.  I figure a good effort today and I’ll be nearly done!


I already know that the Lever Arch binders solve one problem mentioned by a few people, and that I have seen mentioned elsewhere on the net – that of the page protectors slipping down due to the weight.  The clamp over the holes holds them, even full of stamps, pretty well so far.

Anyway, trapped in the house is a good thing when there is crafty work t be done – thank goodness the fridge is very well stocked and no reason to go out for the time being.  That means I can take a leisurely stroll in cyberspace and check out all the lovely desk.  Fun for me – see you at yours soon!


Adding Wooden Stamps – this will work!

A lot of comments from the last post regarding how people organize their stamps – thanks for all the info.  It shows clearly that everyone finds success in a different way.

One commenter, PeeJay, mentioned her “catalogue” of stamps, and while I initially thought so much work! the idea stuck with me.  In discussing the need to search through multiple storage solutions, especially regarding wood mounted stamps or even foam mounted ones that are too bulky to fit in a binder, it occurred to me that a mix of what I was doing, and her catalogue idea would suite me perfectly!

My wood mounted stamps are all in drawers in those rolling stacks, all sorted into loose groupings, like SCENIC (leaves, trees, grass, etc with a corner devoted to SEA related things like waves and sandbanks), ANIMALS (including odd animals like winged pigs or cows with globe-spots or purely fantasy animals as well as bees, butterflies, spiders, etc), HOLIDAY (pretty much all Christmas), Weird People (like Gorey-dancers, hairless Bill and Hilary, shocked nuns, and all my Stampotique stamps)  and TEXT.  So they are all in one place and I know the WHERE of them pretty well as I have not changed that is a decade.

I wanted to save myself the senior moments of forgetfulness, grabbing the binder of clear stamps to work on a project then realize halfway through it that I had the PERFECT wood mounted stamp that I had forgotten all about.  The catalog aspect would help me get the INFO, if not the actual STAMP,  co-located with the clear ones.  Since I have not-a-ton of wood mounts, it didn’t seem that daunting a task, not like cataloging all my clear stamps would be. Here is what I did:

I took a plain white sheet of good weight cardstock, A4 like the protectors are, and grabbed one sub-set of my stamps.  I stamped the image with brown ink (as an immediate visual cue that it was a wood mounted stamp – maybe I will use something like blue for the foam ones) on the sheet, punched the holes to correspond with the ring binder and now can add those sheets right mixed in with the sleeves of clear stamps!  No more forgetting – when I go to a section to look at the clear ones I can easily see that I should be looking at my wood-mount drawers if I see something I like better.


Then in the binder with the clear ones in the same group:


The best thing is where I have wood mount stamps that might best be sorted in two places I can stamp it on two sheets and have the reminder in every section.  Not sure if it is worth stamping the clear ones so I can put the image in another section as well. It might be one of those occasional things – let’s say I am looking for a circle with text in it.  I THINK I would go to CIRCLES first, but if I had a momentary lapse and went to TEXT instead, when I then eventually found the stamp in CIRCLES I could take a fresh sheet, stamp it, add it to the TEXT section.  Then I would be doing it as an ongoing thing, but not a huge undertaking.  And if I NEVER get confused about where something is, I never have to take that step IYKWIM.

But that’s not all – another commenter, Lillian, and I talked about Pokemon sleeves (the same ones I am using for my Project Life style album) and we both had the same idea – using the sleeves for small stamps.  I had the particular idea to use them for my very small sentiment stamps.  I had taken one of the report covers and cut it to ATC size.  I stuck the sometimes quite tiny stamps to it then inked the entire set.   Pressing a piece of cardstock to it, I got the impression of the whole set of sentiments.  I slipped both of them into the sleeve and BINGO!


For small ones, this let me group all the like ones together, so if I want a Birthday greeting I can see them all at a glance.  When I get new stamps, I think I would do what I’ve done here and cut up the backing sheet that has the image printed on it, and leave the stamp on there when I slip it in the sleeve.  The sleeves do have a different hole spacing on them so I have to re-punch them, but that is not a hassle to do at all.

I would do wood-mount or foam mount sentiments stamped on the plain card, and just locate them with the sleeves.  Larger sentiments would go on the report covers.  Cling stamps seem to cling to the report covers as well so I am adding in the few of them I have (when I have just one or two – I do have a whole box of what I call TEXTURE stamps, like for adding mesh or dots or a checkerboard to an art journal page or card background, that I will keep in the boxes) Some things are so unique (like sets of MONA LISA stamps, or Alice or the Lil’ Grumblies) they are well housed in the CD covers.

Still only about halfway through but at least I am sure of the process and the rest of it is just working thru the boxes and CD covers, stamp by stamp.  Well worth it to familiarize myself with what I have!  I have a few ideas already, just from refreshing my memory about ones I haven’t used (or even thought of) in YEARS.

Hope the ideas help you out – and JOZARTY, I mean YOU!  So glad I caught you BEFORE you went down the CD case route.  At least it gives you something to think about and your decision will be an informed one LOL!


Clear Stamp Reorganization

I have been somewhat unhappy with how I am storing my stamps.  While I love the CD cases on the one hand, I found that I had 4 (5,6,7 or more!) cases full of swirls and circles and flowers.  A while back, I removed those from the CD cases and reorganized them into small craft storage boxes.  That took up less space, but was a nightmare to riffle through to find what I wanted!  I found myself settling for the first somewhat appropriate stamp I came across, rather than really looking at them all to find the “right” one.

At the time I began sorting them into the boxes, I had bought some clear Report Covers from Staples.  I took a clear stamp with me so I could test out if they would stick to the folder with some grip, and not fall off.  I cut up some of them to fit the box, and attached groups or sets of stamps to them in an effort to make finding the one I wanted a little easier.  It wasn’t easier.  I tried sticking them to the full report covers but wasn’t happy with the potential for them to slip off, if the “sticky” had worn off the back of the stamp.  I washed them, which brought it back, mostly, but not quite enough for me to feel secure storing them that way.  Then I promptly forgot all about it and just carried on with the boxes and the finding issues.

While tidying up last week, I stumbled on an entire box of A4 page protectors.  No idea why I bought them – maybe to house pages ripped out of mags into my own idea book? It hit me that storing the stamps on the report covers then slipping them into the PPs and into a binder would at least make the flipping through far easier.

I went to Staples and lucked into a whole pile of report covers (and they HAVE to be the smooth ones, not the cheaper dimpled ones) that where in a heap in the shelf slot, all out of their packaging, and in a right old mess.  I took all the empty packaging and the pile of covers to the check-out and ended up getting the entire stack for the price of three packages and at 20% off since some were crinkled at the corners!  Woo Hoo! These are the ones I got:


The colourful binders, nice quality and BIG, were priced 3 for 2 so quite cheap as well.


I split the report covers down the spine (cutting off about 1/4 inch at the fold) which made them fit the page protectors perfectly.  And I started sticking the stamps to them.  When I found one that didn’t seem to adhere well, I just washed it and it stuck.


I found I could get quite a lot of them onto a sheet!  In cases where I hadn’t thrown away the original packaging, I simply taped then together so they fit the sleeve, forgoing the report cover step entirely.


You can see on the left the two taped sets – actually one set, one background stamp. The real appeal to this is that the stamps, if they DO come loose from the report covers, they only fall into the page protector and not out onto the floor or in the bin!

I am LOVING this method.  And of course I had to have a look and see if someone else had the same idea – and of course they had.  This video is pretty much the same thing, although she uses the report covers whole rather than cut in half, uses them specifically for her PTI stamps and she takes the extra step of adding the image labels from the stamp set.  I think that helps, if you have them, although sticking together sets like on the left above accomplishes the same thing.  In future I suspect I would be more inclined to save the  packaging than I have been.  At some point, I MAY be tempted to stamp all the images onto paper and add them, but I find I can tell enough about the stamp to know if I want to use it from the stamp itself, so that may be just more work than it is worth.

I have three binders and a load of dividers (also from Staples) and I think that should accommodate all my clear stamps. It also means I can then use the CD covers for any of my cling mounted stamps.   Wood mount ones I have a LOT of but most of them are very specific (like the Stampotique ones) and as I will always have to look at least two places I feel adding the cling ones to the CD cases, which can be stored on the same shelf as the cling ones in binders, I still have a better chance of finding them.  If that makes sense.  No matter HOW you do it, I simply cannot see a way to mix wood mount stamps in with the rest – you will always have to look at both storage methods.

I love the lever binders – the can store so many sheets! – yet flip so easily.

At this point I am unclear if I will have a smaller binder for my clear alphabets.  I am leaning towards NOT, as I have only a few alphabet sets that are clear – MANY more that are either cling mount or foam or tiny wood mount ones – and the clear ones I tend to use as a full sheet for art journal-type things, instead of a stencil as more of a background than to spell out text. They fit in a couple of rolling drawer stack drawers and that has always worked well for me so no real point to changing them.  The danger of reorganization tends to be that you get swept away, think something is going to work well then when it doesn’t you find you have wasted time and money and are still unhappy!  I am already happy with this set up (it took me a while to be able to get out to Staples to find more of the raw supplies but I could see from just a couple of weeks of this new method, with only a few stamp styles, that this was working) so taking the plunge and the time to do them all.

I really hope I won’t be eating my words in 6 months.  If so, you are invited to laugh and point and make any derisory noises you like.

Sorry that was all a bit wordy.  But now I have a date with my CD cases – between getting them sorted and sorting that massive pile o’ scraps (still only dented, I fear) I am going to be very busy. At least, knock wood, there is no driveway shovelling to do today.  DH has done it all (saving me and my back from further injury) but the poor guy has been exhausted and I would have felt compelled to go help had it needed doing AGAIN. With the Y of the drive I would bet it’s 60 metres at least! I hope it warms up soon and no more snow…..