Feb 212016
 

If we can avoid it, most of us prefer not to re-do our craft storage systems. We’d rather use that time for crafting! I’m no different—when I originally stored my wafer-thin steel dies and foam-backed dies inside a combination of three-ring binders and plastic storage boxes (see How to store your wafer-thin cutting dies), I felt pretty good about both systems.

Old Die Storage System

The binders I use for my thin foam-backed dies still work just fine, as this collection is not too large. But my collection of thin steel dies is immense, making it difficult to locate the one I need in a snap. I tried to solve this issue by developing a spreadsheet with a “Location” column (see Create a master inventory system for your cutting dies), but while this has helped me to locate the box or binder where dies are stored, it doesn’t allow me to zoom in on the exact location for dies stored in plastic boxes.

Die-Inventory-System-1024x707

I find myself paging through randomly stored magnetic sheets until I find the correct one. This can sometimes take quite a while.

ArtBin-Die-Storage-Box-1-1024x1024

In the end, I decided to adopt the wafer thin steel die storage system recommended by Jennifer of Jennifer McGuire Ink in her Craft Organization and Storage videos, among them Die Storage from 2013, and Staying Organized (Stamps, Dies and More) from 2015. Jennifer stores her dies upright in a combination of square 5×5 CD sleeves, 5×8 or 6×9 job ticket holders, and 5-5/8 x 7-3/8 inch Avery Elle Stamp & Die Storage Pockets. The pockets are then stacked, one behind the other, inside clear, sturdy InterDesign refrigerator bins you can purchase online or at your local Bed Bath & Beyond store in the kitchen storage section. This makes all dies easily visible and quick to find. The bins are portable, so you can store them on an open shelf or carry them to your worktable.

InterDesign Fridge Bin

Dies are separated into categories and identified with labeled dividers, and each die pocket is labeled, too. For the most part, I am using Avery Elle clear protective pockets as shown below.

Avery Elle Pockets

When I decided to adopt Jennifer’s system, I adapted a couple of elements to suit myself. First of all, Jennifer uses inexpensive colored vinyl folders to use as category dividers. She cuts them to size, rounds the corners, and tosses the leftover folder bits. I decided to use white kitchen cutting mats you can purchase from your local Dollar Store or online, and cut them to size in the same way that Jennifer does. The difference, I think, is mainly that your dividers will be white, and they may be cheaper to buy as a package of two cutting mats for one dollar than they would be if purchased as individual vinyl folders. On the other hand, if you prefer colored dividers, visit your local office supply store and purchase colored vinyl folders or vinyl index page dividers. Whether you use vinyl folders, pre-cut dividers (that you still have to trim), or vinyl cutting mats, they are all about equal in weight and sturdiness.

Kitchen Chopping Mats as Category Dividers

Jennifer uses a Brother label maker to label all of her category dividers and clear protective pockets. I own a Brother PT-D400 Label Maker, not the same model as Jennifer’s, but mine works pretty much the same as hers. If you purchase one, make sure you purchase an adapter with it, as it will save you the dollars you would otherwise spend on batteries.

Brother Label Maker

If you have a Brother label maker or are thinking about getting one, I highly recommend you watch Jennifer’s video, My Favorite Crafty Things: Organization from 2015 (advance the video to 8:08), where she provides tips for how to conserve your labeling tape. The label maker has a feature called “chain print” that allows you to print multiple labels closely together, instead of advancing the tape an inch or more after every label. After all of your labels are printed, you can snip the tape between labels with a pair of scissors.

Conserving Labeling Tape

The tapes, which do work well, have one drawback—they are rather expensive. If I buy labeling tape from my local office supply store, it costs $18.99 for 26.2 feet, so I look for a coupon first. Otherwise, I search online for the best deal, such as Amazon, where the last time I checked the cost was $9.66. Quite a difference!

Labeling Tape

Jennifer uses labeling tape for just about everything in her craft room. So far, in regard to die storage, I only use it for my category dividers.

Labeled Category Dividers
For my clear protective pockets, I use Avery Laser Labels 5267. Please note that these labels work for both laser and inkjet printers. The labels are compact, measuring ½ inch by 1-3/4 inches, and come 80 labels to a sheet. I use Arial Narrow in a 10-point font to identify the die’s manufacturer, design and item number.

Pocket Labels

I discovered one drawback to these labels: they peel off the clear protective pockets as quickly as you adhere them. The solution is easy. I insert a rectangle of white card stock inside each pocket to make the die visible, but also to provide a place for special instructions or a matching stamp. I insert the die in front of the card stock insert, and other items behind it. Instead of adhering the Avery label to the pocket, I stick it to the card stock insert. This system is much faster than using a label maker because you can type and print many labels in a jiffy. I save the file for these completed labels from one typing session to another so that I know where the next label is located. I simply highlight the new labels and print that selection.

Labeled Pockets with Dies

I have not completed my new die storage system, but as you can see, a refrigerator bin storage system holds many dies. In the photo below you see more than 90 dies, and there is space for many more. When not in use, I store the bin on a bookshelf. Otherwise, I simply move it to my craft table. One storage bin accommodates hundreds of dies. In contrast, my previous plastic box system stored fewer than half of my dies and took up four boxes.

Half-Filled Fridge Bin

You might be wondering what I will do with my old plastic die boxes. To be honest, I am still thinking about alternate uses; if you have suggestions, let me know in the comments below. I may sell them for $5 apiece, plus shipping. If you’re interested, you can email me at judynolan@aol.com. But the magnetic sheets inside them are being cut up, as needed, to accommodate layered sets of dies inside the pockets for the new system. Of course, some dies already come with magnetic sheets.

Pockets with Magnetic Sheet Inserts

If you have a boatload of wafer thin steel cutting dies, what storage system works best for you?

© 2016 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share
Jan 122016
 

Valentine’s Day is about a month away, so I am re-running the giveaway post below that originally appeared last July. I suppose, depending on your point of view, the post was either too late or too early for Valentine’s Day. In any event, if you’re interested in entering a giveaway for the Spellbinders die set shown below, read through to the end of the post to find out how to enter this giveaway. I’d like to announce a winner by the end of next week so that this person can actually receive and use the Valentine’s Day-oriented die set in time for that holiday. 2/1/16 Update: This giveaway is being extended. When a minimum of five entries have been entered, a random drawing will take place.

If you have already been using Spellbinders dies, then you know that they can be used multiple ways. You can use them to cut shapes, emboss detail into cut shapes, or stencil through the die template. The three-piece Love Locket die set includes a locket, key, and locket background.

Spellbinders Love Locket

One of the traditional ways to use this die set is for a greeting card honoring Valentine’s Day, a wedding, or an anniversary. That’s what Sheri of My Sheri Cards did with the heart-shaped locket-and-key dies, cutting them from gold and silver card stock, respectively. Then she paired these design elements with a Spellbinders A2 Curved Borders One die cut for a truly spectacular effect. You can read about her process in her post, MY SHERI CRAFTS CHALLENGE #126 – Valentine.

Photo courtesy of My Sheri Cards

Photo courtesy of My Sheri Cards

Although the gorgeous gold-and-white card below is intended as a wedding card, I think it would work equally well as a birthday or congratulatory card. Erika of Snappy Crafts describes how she layered Spellbinders® M-Bossabilities™ Framed Petite Labels, Nestabilities® Labels Twenty-One, and Shapeabilities® Fancy Tags Two, and then combined these effects with the heart-shaped lock-and-key dies. To achieve the distressed gold-and-white striped background, Erika coated the embossing folder with gold ink before running it through her Spellbinders® Grand Calibur machine. For more details, read her post, Weddings…..Spellbinder style.

Photo courtesy of Snappy Crafts

Photo courtesy of Snappy Crafts

Chrissy of Chrissyscardland created an adorable birthday card with the locket and key dies in A BIRFDAY DRAGON WITH MAKE IT MONDAY. Using her Faber-Castell colored pencils, Chrissy colored a digital dragon image designed by Rick St. Dennis. She cut out some leaves using a Couture Creations die, and combined these and the Spellbinders® Love Locket dies with the illustration.

Photo courtesy of Chrissyscardland

Photo courtesy of Chrissyscardland

To enter the giveaway, share your favorite Valentine’s Day memory in the comments below, and make sure you enter your e-mail address (not published) in the comment form so that I can contact you. Minimum number of participants is five for the giveaway to take place.

© 2016 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share
May 232015
 

I don’t go to my local scrapbook store, Memory Bound, every week (although I think about it!), but I visited the store Friday evening after I received an e-mail that announced some new Tim Holtz products had arrived. If you’ve been reading my posts here, then you know already that I am a Tim Holtz fan. I use his Distress ink stamp pads, some of the Distress ink markers and paints, own all three of his technique books, and have many of his paper cutting dies and other paper crafting tools.

Tim Holtz Distress Products

The items described in the Memory Bound e-mail included the Tim Holtz Distress Refresher, Distress Sprayer, Distress Micro Glaze, and DIY Distress Ink Pad, all of which are described on Tim Holtz’ Web site HERE. I was pretty sure I could use the first three products, but wasn’t sure about the DIY Distress Ink Pad. Here’s what I learned about these accessories, designed to work with the Tim Holtz Distress line of products. If you’re unfamiliar with the inks, their main advantage is that they are water-reactive and that you can create interesting and beautiful blending effects with them.

The Tim Holtz Distress Refresher is an essential accessory if you use Distress ink stamp pads, markers or paints because it prolongs the life of your products. It is made of a mixture of water and gel, designed to moisturize and condition your stamp pads, the brush tips of your markers, and the foam applicator tops of your paint bottles. When your stamp pad begins to get dry, you don’t necessarily need to re-ink it, but can instead spray the pad once or twice with Distress Refresher, then close the lid and wait about five minutes to let the liquid soak in. For the markers, do the same: spray once or twice, cap the marker, and wait five minutes before using. Spray your non-stick craft mat once or twice with the Distress Refresher, turn your Distress Paint bottle upside down, and swish the foam applicator in the liquid a few times, cap it, and once more, wait five minutes.

Tim Holtz Distress Refresher

The Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer is an empty spray bottle, but not an ordinary one. Tim Holtz points out in his video, Distress Sprayer, that every sprayer is different, which is why you don’t always get the same results he does in his tutorials or trade show demonstrations. The Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer is designed specifically to hold water (although you could technically mix up your own colored or glitter sprays), and has a button in the trigger head that blocks water flow if you want to pack the bottle in a bag and not have it leak. When you depress the trigger fully, the sprayer releases a fine, even spray. If you depress the trigger partially, it releases water clumplets, which create a specific blending effect that’s different from when you use a fine spray. The bottle holds four ounces of water, where many other brands of craft spray bottles hold two ounces.

Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer

Tim Holtz Distress Micro Glaze sells in a one-ounce jar and is my favorite new accessory of the four described in this post. Inside is a paste-like product that reminds me of wax. The purpose of this product is to prevent Distress inks from reacting with water once your work of art is finished. Tim Holtz says the product is the result of a collaboration between Ranger Ink and Skycraft, the original maker of the micro glaze.

Tim Holtz Distress MIcro Glaze

You put a little bit on your fingertip, and rub it into any porous surface, let it dry, and then buff off the excess with a clean cloth or paper towel. A little bit goes a long way. You can use Distress Micro Glaze with any of the Tim Holtz Distress products, but also with any watercolor products, markers that react with water, inkjet-printed art, and basically anything that needs to be water-resistant. If you visit the Skycraft About page, it describes even more uses for the petroleum-based, acid-free product with a slight citrus-y scent. You can even use it to make leather stain-resistant, on metals to prevent rust and corrosion, and on wood to protect and polish it. A little while ago I wrote a post about an address book I created that featured a watercolor effect on the cover using Distress inks. I hadn’t listed it in my shop yet because I wanted to come up with a solution that prevented the inks from running if someone accidentally spilled a drop of water or other liquid on it. This was the solution. As you can tell from the photo, the micro glaze is clear and matte when dry, and none of the inks smeared when I applied it.Address BookThe final new Distress accessory from Tim Holtz, described in this post, is the DIY Distress Ink Pad. This product is designed so that you can combine multiple Distress inks to make your own custom ink pad. You fill the eye dropper from a Distress Re-inker with ink, then paint a narrow section of the pad with ink. Repeat this with other colors until the white stamp pad is completely filled with color. Then take a credit card or plastic scraping tool, and pull down the length of the stripes you’ve created to drive the ink down into the pad. Then cover the stamp pad with the provided lid, and let it sit for 10 minutes before using the pad. The lid is covered with a special paper that takes the custom ink, so go ahead and roll a brayer over the stamp pad, and then roll out your custom color on the lid so you’ll know at a glance what your custom color looks like. To be honest, this is probably the accessory for which I have the least use. I tend to ink up spots on a craft mat with my Distress inks, and then paint with the inks–either with a dry paint brush or a wet one, and that allows me to create any custom colors I need. But if you want a larger amount of a custom color that you plan on using often, the DIY Distress Ink Pad is the way to go.

Tim Holtz DIY Distress Ink PadThese new Distress accessories from Tim Holtz are handy and will sell quickly in my local craft store, I suspect. Have you worked with any of these products yet, or plan on using them?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share