Jan 28, 2015

Crafting Work Space -- Lots of white, empty spaces - helps me stay focused.

Hello Friends,

I was thinking about work flow and organization last week.  I try to come up with a good solution for my own working style.  I looked at a lot of craft room tour videos on YouTube.  Many crafters seem to like having LOTS of products out and visible to provide "inspiration".  Or at least the ones who take the time to record and post a video seem that way.

I am not like that.

I need a clean desk and uncluttered work area, because I am too easily distracted by other cute products that are visible.  I like to clear off all items from my working desk except for items I am using on my current project.  I also limit what is on the wall in front of me to decrease distraction.

Crafting Work Desk:
Below is a photo of my focused work desk.  Every item on it is related to my current project -- making sailboat and snowmen cards, using the same blue-themed supplies.

Crafting Desk
Crafting Desk - Only supplies related to the current project are on the desk.
You can see that I have cutting tools, ruler, glue, tape, pens, inkpad, and cleaner on my right. A few possible embellishment choices are laid above the pink mat.  A few stamp embellishment choices are on my left.  Pop-up tape, hole punch tools, and extra blank cards and envelopes are in the 6"x6" CD case on top left.  Cards in various stages of construction are along to top.

This is fine once I have finished designing, and I am ready to make them.  But when I am in the midst of designing, I tend to pull lots of supplies from other places and pile them on top of my work desk as I try them on and then reject those choices.  When the desk got overwhelmed, I used to stop in the middle of my designing and try to put some of the supplies away.  But this took me out of my designing groove, and it was very frustrating.

So, I need a place to put these rejects until I finish designing, and I have time to put them back nicely. I strongly recommend having an "overflow" area right next to your main work desk for this purpose.  

Overflow - Temporary Storage Area:
I use the top of a low closed storage unit for my "overflow" temporary holding area.  I like the closed storage solution, again to minimize visual clutter while I am crafting.  This one is Besta from Ikea with gloss-white doors.  The units are $80 each (two units stacked).  Gloss white doors are very expensive ($100/2 doors), but there are non-gloss white doors at about half the price.

Prime Storage Area:
Next, I only keep very frequently used tools and supplies in this low dresser unit next to my crafting desk.  Other supplies are stored at locations that are further away from my desk.  It is important to maximize your prime location, and move less used items to 2nd and 3rd storage locations.

  • Inside this prime location storage unit, the top row holds the Cuttlebug and basic cutting mats and embossing tools on left, and on right selected cardstock and main markers.  
  • Next row holds my 12" multiple-sheet guillotine cutter on left and my most used coloring supplies such as ink pads, re-inkers, color pencils, and chalk palette.  
  • Next row holds stickers & embellishments, MS 12" cutter, shape cutting flat stencils, punches in 4 large boxes, Crop-a-Dile, and extra acrylic blocks in a small box.
  • Bottom unit left side holds ribbons, buttons, brads, and other embellishments, Sizzix cutting dies, clear envelopes, and card catalogue index of stamping supplies.  
  • Bottom unit right side holds envelopes, Work-In-Process projects, alphabets and journaling stamps in a box on the bottom, and currently using paper, stamp sets, glitters, and supplies.

Stamp Storage in Secondary Location
2nd & 3rd Storage locations:
My 2nd storage location is the far corner of the same room.  I store almost all of my stamps here. Amazingly, my entire collection seem to fit into 8 large plastic containers (14" x 18" x 10.5"h).  I was under the impression that I had much more than this.  I moved into a new, large home from a small apartment and had kept some of my supplies in a storage building.  I was finally able to spread them all out in one place and organize them.  :-)  Plastic tubs are for holding letter sized files, $10 each.

My 3rd storage location is an upstairs bedroom and closet.  Bulk purchased tape, glue, chip board, and other coloring supplies, and my main supply of cardstock, and designer paper are stored there.

Main scrap paper storage - used often.
Scrap Storage: 
Finally, I store my frequently used scraps in a 6"x6" CD container.  I usually have it out on my desk when I am designing, but then store it inside the Besta afterwards.  I sort them by rainbow-color order in clear plastic sleeves.  Maximum cut size is 6.5" x 5.5".  I tend to keep all scraps produced by one project together in one sleeve.  I sometimes re-use them on another project with similar colors.  I find this container quite useful for household uses too, when I need to make a quick label or tag.

Hope this will get your mojo flowing and help you organize your own work flow.
Now go make some cards! :-) :-) :-)

Jan 11, 2015

Best Curated Craft Tools - for a new card maker.

What are the very best basic items to start making cards?  

My blog is titled Budget Crafter.  It is not titled frugal crafter or cheap crafter.  While I am interested in saving money, my main goal is to help the new crafter acquire quality tools that will be used over and over.  In this way, I feel a crafter will get the most return from her money.  She will also enjoy using high quality tools, and won't feel the frustration from badly made tools.

I post two photos of tools that I use most often, and that I recommend to a beginning card maker.

The first photo shows cutting mat & work surface, measuring, marking, and cutting tools.
   *  EK Success, 12"x12" pink cutting mat with 1/4" grid marks in white.
            Use grid marks to help line up card layers. Bright color and white line is easy to see.
            Can cut on top of it to protect your table.  Use a metal edged ruler and knife.
            Most inks wipe clean, and it can be washed with water.
            Can be stored in most containers designed to hold 12"x12" paper.
   *  Fiskars 9.5"x5.5" sliding cutter with cutting blade and scoring blade installed.
            I find this cutter to have the best combination of cutting size, portability, and cut quality.
            It is large enough for 90% of cutting needs, since most people make A2 sized cards.
            To cut 12" paper, you can mark with a pencil and use scissors or the cutting mat & knife.
            Refill blades are affordable and easy to find. 
            Both scoring blade (black) and cutting blade (orage) fits at the same time.
            Just cut from one end and score from the other end. (The blade blocks 1/2" from end.)
            Cuts cleanly up to 2 sheets of 60-80 lb card stock.
            Black 1/4" grid marks are easy to see, and a silver wire on the track is very nice.
            It's not too bulky on top, and also stores in a 12"x12" paper storage container.
   *  Other items include a sharp scissors (DuraSharp stainless 3" blade, 6.5" overall), 
         a solid knife with refillable blades (OLFA cutter model A), 
         several rulers (EK Success 6" clear with one metal cutting edge, Gaebel 12" stainless steel ruler -      
         has cork back to prevent sliding while cutting, and Omnigrid 12" clear ruler - has easy to read 
         yellow & black markings), markers (Pentel 0.5mm mechanical pencil with eraser and silver 
         Quilter's Pencil - pencil mark is faint so it does not need to be erased), 
         and a bone folder for pressing down crease.

I also have a second cutter, Quartet 6"x4" photo trimmer - with a blade that comes down. This is faster and cleaner for cutting smaller pieces and for accurately trimming precut pieces.  I taped a 1/8" lined gridded template on top.  Squeeze the cutting blade towards the inside for clean cuts.

The second photo shows a black inkpad, stamp scrub cleaner, wet wipes, and several clear blocks for mounting unmounted stamps or cling stamps.  

Getting a good quality black inkpad is important because the cheap ones are not the same.  My favorite one is Tsukineko VersaFine Archival pigment inkpad.  It dries in 2-3 seconds.  You can use markers to color over a stamped image and the black does not smudge.  Word stamps come out crisp and detailed.  It does not fade due to its archival pigment.  Also, the ink lasts many years.  You want to tap lightly on this inkpad to avoid getting a big glob on your stamp.

Using unmounted or cling stamps is an easy way to save storage space in your craft area and to save money.  Unmounted stamps and cling stamps that do not provide its own wood mountings are usually cheaper than wood mounted stamps.  It adds a bit of hassel because the stamp needs to be mounted each time on a block, and sometime the mounting is crooked and needs to be fixed. Generally it's a good trade-off.  Photo shows clear blocks in useful sizes.  Gridded blocks are better than blank ones.  1/2" thick blocks are easier to hold than 1/4" thick blocks.

Hope you liked reading about my curated list of most useful tools for a new card crafter.  
Now go make some beautiful cards!