Organization, Part 2: By Supply Type, Theme or Company?

So, you’ve gone through the painful process of purging your stash of scrapbook supplies down to a more manageable size. Now you have remaining a pile of paper, stickers and embellishments to organize…but how? There are several basic sorting methods to use and each one may be best for different scrappers.

The first method of sorting scrapbook supplies would be by type, by storing all of the stickers together, for instance. I did use this system exclusively when I first started scrapping almost 7 years ago, but the type system is only really manageable for products like paper or stickers when you have small quantities to deal with. With a larger stash your sticker or paper stack becomes so huge that you can’t find anything in it and need to subdivide it – leading to more questions about how to sort it.

The second sorting method for supplies is by topic. I used this system for about 6 years after the size of my stash forced me to abandon the type method. Supplies are filed by the topic they are intended to be used for, such as baby, vacation, or wedding, or by the design theme, such as floral. The convenience of this system derives from the ability to create a page simply by grabbing the files relevant to the topic you want to scrapbook and have everything necessary to create your page.

For a long time, the topic system did work very well for me, and I know it works very well for many scrapbookers. However, recently I began to have some difficulties with it. The first was caused by the growth of non-themed supplies that are available, both in ‘traditional’ scrapbook supplies like paper and stickers, and also in the number of mixed media type supplies such as mesh, ribbons, and slide mounts. A theme-based organizational system simply cannot easily accept all these types of supplies. Another difficulty was the expansion of available styles in many different themes. Floral papers, for example, are now available in a wide range of styles from cute to retro to classic heritage looks and it can be time-consuming to wade through all of those different types when you have a specific vision in mind of the style you are looking for. Also, many more companies than previously are now creating vast coordinated product lines. Under the topic organizational system, when I looked at a piece of floral KI Memories or Anna Griffin paper, I wouldn’t know without having to look in several other places whether or not I had the coordinating stripe or solid paper.

These factors and several more, such as the desire to occasionally do contests and design team applications which means I sometimes need to know what product I have of a certain company’s, led me to consider making the switch to a manufacturer based filing system. Many of my friends use and recommended such a system but I was at first reluctant to commit the time and effort necessary to make such a drastic change despite the seeming advantages. What if I didn’t like it? Finally I took the plunge…and was thrilled with the results. My scrapbooking has gotten better and faster since I made the change, and I feel it was well worth the investment of time and effort.

The system that I transitioned to for my storage is a combination of type and manufacturer storage. My generic craft supplies like ribbon, mesh, tags and buttons, are stored mostly by type of supply. But now, I have my paper, stickers and other scrapbook embellishments arranged by manufacturer. This has made it wonderfully easy to see at a glance what supplies I have that are pre-coordinated by the manufacturer, or what I have available to enter a design team or other contest that requires I use a specific company’s products. I also don’t have to sift through tons of totally wrong style product to find the look I want. If I am looking for a classic or antique look, I can go straight to my Anna Griffin and K&Co files to see my available options. If I want a more modern look, I can go straight to the companies I have that make those types of designs. My paper and embellishments get less handling and thus less damage, and I can work faster as well.

A manufacturer based system isn’t the perfect answer for everyone. You do have to have a broad knowledge of manufacturers and their design styles to make such a system work for you. And it isn’t necessary to separate your supplies by manufacturer if you tend to stick to one very particular style in your supply purchases, or if your supply stash isn’t particularly large. But for scrapbookers who have the need, like myself, making the switch to a manufacturer based system can have excellent results!

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