Paper, Paper, Paper

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So paper…without it I would have a lot of pretty, but otherwise unrelated items in my studio. Millions of dollars annually (and maybe secretly) are being spent on different types, shapes, sizes, and colors of awesome paper products for everything from text books to scrapbooks. My husband would have you believe that I single handedly keep the decorative paper industry afloat, but I assure you that it is not the case. I do however, have some options for projects and I have to store them…somehow.

Best Craft Organizer makes both small and large paper racks that can store paper at an angle or level (depending on how you arrange the pegs). I have the small shelves stacked one on top of the other and that seems to work well for my open cardstocks. For my papers, like many things, I’ve found that if I can’t see it, I won’t use it. While stockpiling tons of specialty papers is fun, I’d rather use them than shove them in a drawer. You heard me…I literally had drawers of paper. It was a pain to get into them and I avoided the papers that I couldn’t reach (and then promptly forgot about them). So I decided to try a few different methods of sorting my papers into shelves. I had iris containers full of paper pads in 12 x 12. I’ve moved most of my papers into shelves from Stamp-n-Storage and Best Craft Organizer.

Stamp-n-Storage 12×12 Paper Holder

The Stamp-n-Storage paper shelves are sturdy wooden shelves that lend themselves well to stacking. Some crafters prefer to store them on their end as opposed to horizontal, but maybe I’m a traditionalist.

They make shelves to hold 12×12 and 8.5×11 paper, though I prefer to buy 12×12 shelves for both sizes because if gives me the greatest amount of flexibility. I purchased several that sit stacked on top of each other and they support the weight well. For those with Ikea Expedit or Kallax shelving, they make sizes specifically to fit these units.

Best Craft Organizer Paper Rack – Small

Best Craft Organizer makes both small and large paper racks that can store paper at an angle or level (depending on how you arrange the pegs). I have the small shelves stacked one on top of the other and that seems to work well for my open cardstocks.

For my smaller sizes (4×6 and 6×6), I use a method I borrowed from Jennifer McGuire Ink. She’s using Interdesign acrylic bins to organize her stamps and dies and I’ve adapted that method for my smaller paper packs. I can flip through them easily, use what I want, then return the rest.

At the end of a project, I’ve found that the best way to get a handle on the craftermath (yep, I said it) is to have a simple way to deal with my paper scraps. I’m reusing IRIS containers that I used to use for my stamps to hold scrap paper by color family. I can pull out the thin container, easily find a scrap for die cutting or stamping and then sweep the rest of the larger scraps back into the container. Easy, peasy.

How do you store your paper? Do you have a better way? I’d love to here about it! Leave a comment. Want to see what I do with all of that paper? Visit my Etsy store, here.

Keeping Crafts Organized

ink header There are so many tools and supplies available for crafting that the sky would seem to be the limit. In actuality,  that limit is more likely to be the size of your crafting space. I’ve scoured the internet searching for what I thought might be the very best ways to store my tools and supplies in a fashion that keeps them both organized and accessible.

1350958902036Yep, its hard to hard to believe that space used to be what I used for crafting. I started out just making cards for my grandmother because they made her smile. No matter the occasion, if there was a stamp or sticker that fit, another card was in the mail. As you can imagine, I accumulated supplies very quickly that way. I stored what I had in small plastic containers that stayed stacked on the floor near my table until I had a formidable pile of plastic containers.

Eventually, I made some changes…and then more changes as my family crafting project transformed into a business. My studio today is an ever-evolving place of papercrafting that I adore. Its my place of creative inspiration, sanity, and peace (even if there is a baby jumper near my desk).

The Cards You “Keep, Keep”

QW1Is it proper English? Not in the least, but it is one of the nicest and most heartfelt complements that I’ve ever received from a customer. At the time, it was something I’d never really considered. I had just opened my business and started offering custom handmade greetings for people to give to their loved ones. I wasn’t convinced that what I was doing was particularly special; it was just something that I enjoyed doing. Talking to this particular customer however, made it perfectly clear that there is a distinct difference between something she would buy in Target or a mall and something she would buy from me. The simple fact that my cards aren’t mass produced and can’t be found anywhere else is the difference. When I make a card for a customer or they buy one I’ve listed in my shop, that’s the only one there is. I put time, effort, and love into creating something unique. I didn’t really consider what recipients did with them after they opened them. It certainly never occurred to me that they keep them. It was then that I realized that people were framing my cards. Protecting them, not because of my artwork, but because of the memories evoked from seeing them. The new baby cards, the birthdays, mother’s days and anniversaries…people are holding on to those memories. I was incredibly humbled by the simplicity of her statement and I intend to keep making my cards to help my customers hold those memories close. – See more at: http://www.aluminum-butterfly.com/blog/cards-you-keep-keep#sthash.RrWdoYta.dpuf

Custom Orders – Learning to Welcome Them

BTOY1I’ll be honest, when I first started creating products and posting them for sale on Etsy, I was terrified of the “Request a Custom Order” button. It seemed like a one way ticket out of my comfort zone. As it turns out…that’s exactly what it is, and here’s why I’ve found I can’t do without it now.

1. My customers’ imaginations are incredible. On days where I feel like I’m recreating the same product over and over again…one customer with a request to do something totally different can instantly turn things around. I’ll admit that sometimes I find myself thinking “you want me to do…what?!?” but even with those requests, once I have a complete concept of what they are looking for, it turns into an awesome project.

2. Custom orders teach me about myself. Each new order is different and forces me to research, experiment, and often times teach myself a new skill. After each order, I can sit back and look at the finished product and appreciate the fact that I can do something new – something I may never have tried if not for a curious customer. They build skills and confidence, two things everyone could use a little of.

3. They inspire new products. After I’ve stumbled across a new technique, skill, or style I will almost always want to do it again. If I try something new for a customer and I enjoy it, I tend to offer other products using what I’ve learned (not exact copies, of course). I have entire product lines based on special requests and I believe that it keeps my products different, interesting, and ever-evolving.

So, I no longer fear the custom order button (heck, I’d give it neon lights if I could). I welcome the challenges, ideas, and chances to become a better artist and business woman.

Why Handmade?

FB6I’ve often heard the question asked, “Why buy something handmade?” Someone then proceeds to rattle off a list of reasons not to go through the trouble of buying from an artisan. While it’s true that a card bought from Hallmark or a scarf from Walmart may be more convenient and (maybe) cheaper, does half of the message get lost?

Close your eyes and picture the last handmade gift or card you received. Whether it was from an artisan or a child’s art project, there is a significant emotional difference in knowing that something was made, sought out, or purchased just for you. Handmade gifts and sentiments are created, not just for the words they may contain, but to convey the message that the recipient is unique, cherished, and appreciated. Humans are hard-wired to value something that is scarce, rare, or one of a kind. These items have value beyond price tags and create memories that endure.  It’s for this simple reason that handmade cards are framed instead of discarded and art is placed prominently in a household. While buying from artisans can support the handmade movement and help us chase our crafty dreams, it (more importantly) gives recipients the sort of experience that can last a lifetime. The fact that a unique gift or greeting can make someone feel special is why so many parents can’t part with their macaroni art.