Saturday, March 13, 2010

Basic Collection of Supplies

I have been reorganizing my craft room. Well, technically I have never stopped reorganizing my craft room since we moved in almost 4 years ago. Anyway, it has me thinking about crafting needs/wants and what I really use consistently. I am an avid fan of Papertrey Ink and more specifically Nicole. Papertrey puts its focus on delivering the best crafting basics. I read it all the time throughout her blog posts. So, I began to wonder what "basics" I needed in a crafting arsenal.

I realized quite quickly, with an honest heart and mind, that I was wasting money and precious storage space. Or more importantly, things I didn't use regularly had better real estate than a basic I reach for with every single project. For instance, I was using about 2 square feet of shelf space for a beautiful collection of prima flowers on risers and in matching glass jars in a quick and easy arms reach. I cannot remember the last time I reached for a prima - I have moved on from a once staple. My paper was in drawers that made it hard to get to and took up a lot of room because of the inefficiency of the storage device. So, it naturally was stored on a lower shelf where I had the room for the drawers but couldn't get to my paper easily.

Before I went out and bought any type of storage container, bin, box, bag, shelf . . . I needed to know what I wanted and how accessible it needed to be. So what do I need and what will I reach for over and over again? This past fall I started using and almost completely switched to Papertrey Ink products. And I had to basically start over. Most of us don't have unlimited crafting dollars (if you do, would you mind sharing the wealth?). Both questions inevitably have the basic same answer.

I highly recommend starting with the big paper sampler pack (no matter what brand you choose to go with). You will be surprised which colors you "thought" you loved until you get the product in your hand. I would drool over projects that Heather would create with Melon Berry. But, once I had the product in my hand, while it was a beautiful color, it wasn't my personal style or love.  I couldn't for the life of me see the rage that was Ocean Tides. But once I saw with my own eyes how beautiful it went with so many of the Papertrey colors, it is one of my must haves. Once you have figured out what colors you gravitate to then you can buy the colors you love and find yourself using the most in larger packs. Next, consider getting Kraft cardstock. It is a great neutral that I turn to over and over again. Last, but certainly not least is Stampers Select White card stock (pack of 40 - no kidding!!). Plain white can be used for so many things as well: stamp embellies, copic coloring focal points, background, cards bases - just to name a few. I do not consider pattern paper a necessity.

Basic brown and black inks are a necessity in my craftiness. I would also recommend getting a Versamark Water Mark ink pad. You can stretch your papers a long way by simply using Versamark on them - or tone on tone. Inks in general are basics for me. If you are just starting out or switching companies like I did, I would start with a couple of tried and true colors. Build your ink collection as your needs and style dictate.

Ribbon is the next most used item in my stash. If you are just starting out your collection, try using strips of cardstock in the place of ribbons (for now, I recommend buying the coordinating ribbon as you figure out what colors you want/need as you go, similar to how you build your ink collection). I have distressed the edges of the small strips to give the card stock more of a texture - like ribbon-ish. :)

You will definitely want to have coordinating buttons. Look around and see if you can find a sampler pack to start with. Papertrey Ink has two different starter sets. I don't think you should run out and get a whole set of coordinating buttons unless you KNOW you will be using them. I probably have enough buttons to match what I weigh - and most I cannot honestly say that I will use. Buttons go a long way!!! However, I find that I go through mountains of brown buttons. ??? So, get a few to get started and move forward cautiously.

A new staple for me is Copics. These can add up FAST! So, really work on your skills and build slowly over time with those colors you know you will use. Lots of people say to buy them in sets of 3 - Papertrey has a section for look-a-likes. I am sure you can find other brand's look alikes by googling.  

Where does the magic really begin? It begins with the stamp. Ooooh! :) The stamps you choose are the personality of the project. Stamps can be anything from a focal point to a subtile additive to adorable projects. My advice on stamps is to pick sets you can actually picture using over and over again. Personally, I constantly reach for Polka Dot Basics and Background Basics: Diamonds. It is a good idea to start with a couple of background sets, a sentiment set, and an image set or two. My rule of thumb is that I should imagine being able to use a particular stamp set on one card per dollar I spend (so if a set is $24, I make it a goal to make sure I would use the stamp set on at least 24 cards). Be realistic with yourself which is EXTREMELY hard to do when you look at so many talented stampers. Just because so-and-so made a jaw dropping card with a certain stamp doesn't make it a set you will go to more than once or twice.

Last, consider all the other things that you may find yourself turning to over and over. These are not necessarily considered basics in terms of supplies, but they could be basics for you. This could include glitter, felt, pattern paper, paint, dies, punches, etc. I personally use punches the most after the basics. Then, I find myself using die cuts and so on.

This priority of supplies tells me where I should be spending the bulk of my money. I have spent 100's of dollars on pattern paper only to end up giving much of it away two or three years later. No more. I will run out and buy the latest gadget (i.e. Cricut Cartridges) and only to use it once or twice. I believe that if you build on a good foundation, the rest will fall into place.

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