Jul 302015
 

One of the endless missions in my crafting life is to organize my supplies and finished products so that I can locate them easily, and know how many of each item is on hand. This enables me to reorder supplies efficiently, and to determine where I need to focus my creative efforts. Depending on your preference, you can inventory both types of items through a spreadsheet (or some other list-keeping method that involves writing things down), or visually. There isn’t a right or wrong inventory method, but if you prefer to see pictures of what you have on hand, there is an app called Craft Cabinet that will enable you to take a visual inventory of any craft supplies, tools or products you own.

Craft Cabinet App Button

According to the developers of Craft Cabinet on their Facebook page:

Craft Cabinet will organize all of your scrap booking, art and craft supplies in one place! Sort items into customizable cabinets and drawers along with pictures, descriptions, locations and notes on your supplies. Also tracks and displays projects!”

To be honest, I already inventoried most of my craft supplies and craft projects through Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets. But I wanted to see how Craft Cabinet might compare, and to explore some areas where it might be preferable to using spreadsheet software.

When you first open the app, this is what you’ll see. Craft Cabinet creates three Drawers to which you can add items called All, Uncategorized and Wishlist.

Opening Screen

By clicking on New in the upper left corner, you can create as many of your own Drawers as you need with customized labels. I added a Drawer called Owire, intended to keep track of the colors, sizes and quantities of owire I have purchased for the books I bind. The number zero to the left of the Owire label indicates that I have not yet added any items to that Drawer.

Newly-created Owire Drawer

After I added items to my Owire Drawer, the opened Drawer showed five different colors of owire. These items are similar to physical files in the drawer of a metal filing cabinet. You can take photos of items as you add them to a Drawer, or use photos from your iPhone’s or iPad’s camera roll. They appear as thumbnails in the item list, and as wallpaper when you click on an item. I’m not sure where the photos are stored. When you snap photos within the app, they are not stored in your iPhone’s or iPad’s camera roll.

Owire Drawer, Opened

When you add an item to a Drawer, you’ll be able to enter such details as Name, Description, Location, and Notes. From top to bottom, you can see these details in the photo below. When you click on the heart in the lower right corner, it changes to yellow, and then that item is added to your Wishlist, making it handy for items you may need to reorder or purchase. The heart is a toggle button, so you can remove items from the Wishlist by clicking a second time on the heart.

File Opened Within Drawer

At the bottom of the opening or home screen, also known as Cabinet, is a Projects icon, represented by a pushpin. When you click on that, a Projects window opens up where you can enter such details as Name, Date and Description. And, of course, you can add a photo. I can see that the Projects feature would be handy to keep track of UFOs (UnFinished Objects), particularly since you can take a photo of the items that are part of the project.

This is a newly-created Project. There is no thumbnail photo because I have not yet taken one.

This is a newly-created Project. There is no thumbnail photo because I have not yet taken one.

When you open up a Project, there are places for a Name, Date and Description. You can add a photo anytime you wish. The photo for this Project has not yet been added.

Also on the home screen is an Options button, represented by a gear. When you click on this button, you can Add Cabinets, edit the name of an existing Cabinet, or delete a selected Cabinet. There is a five-screen tutorial that can be accessed from the Options button as well.

Options Screen

Overall, the Craft Cabinet is pretty versatile. If there are any disadvantages at all, they would be as follows:

  • Entering information into the app, and taking photos, takes more time than data entry does for a spreadsheet. But once that information is entered, it’s easy to locate and use. I don’t think photos are needed for every item in your inventory, however. The owire information that I entered in the app would be faster to enter and access via Microsoft Office Excel.
  • The app does not sync with other mobile devices. If you use it on your iPhone, for example, you can’t sync with the same app on your iPad. Hopefully a future version of Craft Cabinet will remedy this issue.
  • This 99-cent app is designed to work only on the iPhone, iPad and iPod, not on other mobile devices.
  • The app sometimes crashes without any warning (fortunately, without apparent data loss), and the camera feature—which is what makes this app visual—can be buggy. The last time the developer updated the app was in March of 2014.

Do you use an inventory app on one of your mobile devices? How is it working for you?

Return tomorrow for a review of another craft inventory app.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Mar 192015
 

How do you keep track of your dies? If you’re like me, then you have multiple storage systems for different types of dies. Speaking from experience, the greater the number of dies you own, the greater the chance is that you will accidentally purchase them twice. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve done this with books! All of this creates the need for a master inventory system, something I’ve talked about in the past but had not started. Well, this past weekend I decided to get busy. I gathered all of the loose dies that hadn’t yet been put away, created an Excel spreadsheet with columns for Company, Type of Die, Description, Product No., and Location, and entered the information for the loose dies.

Loose Cutting Dies

Then I tackled the existing storage systems and methodically went through the contents of my binder, box, drawer and hanging pocket systems. I was surprised to discover that I have more than 150 individual dies or die sets. Definitely too many to keep track of in my head!

Die Inventory System

When I completed my spreadsheet, I felt pretty good about knowing what dies I own and—possibly more importantly—how to locate them quickly. I store my foam-backed dies (Sizzix Sizzlits and similar thin dies) in a three-ring binder, large steel rule dies (Sizzix and Tim Holtz Alterations Dies) in a drawer, small steel rule dies (Movers & Shapers from Tim Holtz Alterations) in vinyl hanging pockets, and all wafer thin steel dies (such as Sizzix Thinlits, Framelits, Nestabilities, Edgeabilities and similar dies from other companies) in boxes with magnetic sheets. When it works, I like to pretty up my storage systems with recycled calendar pages.

I use a three-ring binder for foam-backed dies. Inside the binder are vinyl pages with pockets.

I use a three-ring binder for foam-backed dies. Inside the binder are vinyl pages with pockets. The dies in this category cut detailed shapes from thin materials such as paper, card stock, vellum or foil.

Large steel rule dies are stored upright in a drawer so that I can read their labels. These dies cut through thicker materials such as card stock, chipboard, fabric, plastic and grunge board.

Large steel rule dies are stored upright in a drawer so that I can read their labels. These dies cut through thicker materials such as card stock, chipboard, fabric, plastic and grunge board.

These smaller steel rule dies are repositionable. They cut through the same materials as the larger steel rule dies.

These smaller steel rule dies are repositionable. They cut through the same materials as the larger steel rule dies. I store them in hanging vinyl pockets over a closet door. You can find these at Bed Bath & Beyond or similar stores.

These ArtBin boxes hold up to 21 magnetic sheets of wafer thin cutting dies. The sheets are one-sided and durable. Typically you'll find these boxes at Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics.

These ArtBin boxes hold up to 21 magnetic sheets of wafer thin cutting dies. The sheets are one-sided and durable. Typically you’ll find these boxes at Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics.

I store matched sets of stamps and wafer thin dies in Taylored Expressions binder storage boxes. Depending on how many rubber stamps and dies you store on the magnetic sheets you purchase separately, these boxes hold up to nine pre-punched magnetic pages. I bought mine at my local scrapbooking store, but you can also find them online at TayloredExpressions.com.

I store matched sets of stamps and wafer thin dies in Taylored Expressions binder storage boxes. Depending on how many rubber stamps and dies you store on the magnetic sheets you purchase separately, these boxes hold up to nine pre-punched magnetic pages. I bought mine at my local scrapbooking store, but you can also find them online at TayloredExpressions.com.

I’ve only had my inventory system for a little less than a week, but already it prevented me from re-purchasing a couple of dies I already own. I suspect I need to do the same with some other categories of tools. What tool or supply-tracking systems have you developed for yourself?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Mar 122015
 

No doubt about it. Unless you count playing with spreadsheets among your favorite things to do, filing taxes for your crafting business is not a lot of fun. It’s especially not fun if you tend to wait until the end of the tax year to enter your numbers into spreadsheets of either the paper or software variety. And it’s downright painful if you have to gather your receipts first. The only thing that mitigates the pain is the certainty that you’ve saved all of your records. Somewhere. Yours truly is guilty of all. Thank goodness for king-sized beds that are perfect for sorting receipts into neat piles.

Bedspread file sorting system

You may be thinking to yourself that this paperwork looks like a lot for only one year, and you’d be right. The above photo represents three years of income-and-expense paperwork that has simply not been filed away properly. Or at all. At one point everything was in neat little unfiled piles, but as soon as we visited our accountant, I breathed a sigh of relief and dropped the file folders onto a coffee table, the top of the piano, the floor in my paper crafting studio, and other strange places in the house too embarrassing to mention—then promptly forgot about them. When I found some receipts on my ironing board yesterday, of all places, I realized that something had to change. You’ll notice that the ironing board collects all kinds of useful things besides receipts.

Ironing board storage system

So, why in the world does this happen, aside from the fact that I hate filing? My paper records for my crafting business are located in a bottom desk drawer, when I make the effort to open the drawer, but the truth is that I simply don’t like to bend over or sit down on the floor to put things away.

Impractical bottom file folder drawer

The solution, obviously, is to use the top file drawer in the steel cabinet we keep in the basement. Not even two steps away is the wireless printer to which I send copies of online orders and purchases. Duh. Should have done this long ago. Everything for 2015 is already filed away neatly.

Top file drawer of steel cabinet

How long do you keep your tax-related files? I confess that my husband and I still have tax returns and supporting documentation that go back to when we married almost 36 years ago. Likely quite a bit is faded beyond recognition, especially thermal paper receipts that should simply be outlawed because of their built-in invisibility factor. These days, if I think I might need a receipt a few years in the future, I either make a photocopy of it, or scan it. The thermal paper receipt below is only two years old, and already it is fading.

Faded Receipt

You really don’t need to keep your tax-related paperwork forever, however. To find out what records you can toss and when, and which ones you should retain and for how long, check out the following resources:

According to Jason Malinak, author of Etsy-preneurship: Everything You Need to Know to Turn Your Handmade Hobby into a Thriving Business, there is no right or wrong way to handle bookkeeping for your crafting business. “In fact,” says Jason, “you could even do your bookkeeping on napkins, carved in stone, or a painted canvas!” Among the practical solutions he cites are paper-and-pencil bookkeeping templates and forms you can purchase and store in a three-ring binder, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets you can download from the Web or design yourself, QuickBooks bookkeeping software, or online bookkeeping systems such as Outright for which you pay a monthly subscription fee. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these systems, says Jason, but the best system for you is the one you will use consistently. He admits, however, that he has a preference for paper-and-pencil systems and spreadsheet software, especially because he has designed spreadsheets himself and sells them. If you join his Thrive community, from time to time he releases some of his useful designs to members. I must tell you, from personal experience, that his Etsy-preneurship Bookkeeping System takes into account most of an Etsy seller’s needs. The spreadsheets are customizable and user-friendly.

Etsy-preneurship Bookkeeping System

Click on image to see full description of Jason’s bookkeeping system.

Although I didn’t include a goal for improved bookkeeping habits during 2015, I should have done so. At this point in my business, my needs are fairly simple. One day I may migrate to using QuickBooks, but what works for me right now is a combination of spreadsheets I have designed myself and some from Jason Malinak, who is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Treasury Professional. A complicated system intended for use by accountants is not for me; I’ll never use it. What about you? What bookkeeping system(s) help you to prepare for Tax Day, and why?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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