Archive | June 4, 2010

Organizing: Digital Elements

As I’ve started experimenting with digital scrapbooking (mostly for making photo books), I’ve started to accumulate the supplies to go with the new format I’m playing in. At first, there were so few that it was easy to keep track of what I had pretty much in my head and just browse through folders to find things, but now…well, it’s definitely beyond that.

It got to where I had to come up with a new way to find my stuff, and a new way to avoid making duplicate purchases. I had to be able to find what I need! I considered using the photo gallery tool in my Photoshop Elements, and I may still do that, but first I decided to do some basic file organization so my hard drive wasn’t chaos.

My digital elements are stored divided into the following folders:

  • Alphabets
  • Brushes
  • Card Templates
  • Embellishments
  • Kits
  • Papers
  • Templates

I will probably divide out my patterned and solid papers into separate folders soon since they are starting to get a bit crowded.

The next key was coming up with consistent file names that allowed my files to naturally sort themselves into the way I usually look for them. I wanted things sorted by store, then by designer, then by product name, so I came up with the following file name style:


Some of these items are abbreviated, especially store and designer names, to keep file names manageable. But the result is that I can see everything I have within a folder from a single store together, and then see what I have from each designer at that store listed together. Since different stores and designers tend to have distinctive styles, just like in paper design, it helps me to be able to have all of their items together since I tend to use them together. My file list ends up looking like this:

This way, if I’m using a product by a certain designer, it is easy to look for something to use with it that might be a similar style. And it is easy to double-check my files to see if I already bought that item on my wishlist (and forgot to delete it from the list) before I hit “buy” again!

Being able to use the filenames to find my files is especially important to me. I’m on a Mac and Mac OS X doesn’t allow you to set an image for your folder icon the way that you can on Windows. So when I’m looking at a folder, all I have to go on for the contents is the file name.

This method, which is actually similar in many ways to how I arrange my paper scrapping supplies, is working for me for now. I will likely have to use the library in PSE 8 to be able to do more tagging and previewing at some future point, I realize, however. ACDSee is a popular option for doing this on Windows. Currently there is a beta version of the ACDSee Pro software for Mac but since beta usually equals buggy, I’m in no hurry to take that on.

If you would like other ideas on how to organize your digital supplies, check out these resources:

Katie’s system is similar to what I use, only she divides stuff out by type and topic way more than I do and uses numbered folders to keep things in the exact order that she wants.

Just because digital supplies aren’t sitting around in messy piles doesn’t mean we don’t need a way to impose order on them to be able to find what we want when we want it. An orderly hard drive makes for a happy digital scrapper!


Paperclipping Roundtable #22: Burnt Toast

Paperclipping Roundtable #22 is now available for listening! We tackled the issue this time “round” of unfinished projects and what to do with them?

To listen to this week’s episode, you can click here.

Show Notes:

This episode of Roundtable is sponsored by Big Picture Scrapbooking! Click here for a promo code for Paperclipping Roundtable listeners to use to save 10% on any class at Big Picture Scrapbooking!

The Panel

Picks of the Week


Organization Talk: Bits & Pieces

Perhaps the most perplexing scrapbook organization issue is what to do with all the other supplies scrapbookers have that I didn’t address in my previous article. Long gone are the days of just stickers and paper. With all the various items available it can be frustrating, and time consuming, to figure out how to store your things.

I’d love to have a bag like this one by Anna Griffin. The problem is, what would it hold? How would I use it? The answer, sadly, is that it would sit in the back of my closet. I mention this because it shows that the difference between what is lovely and what you want (versus what you need and what works) can be wildly different. There are two things that I find the simplest and most effective in most cases for storage:

1. Boxes. Usually in the form of plastic bins, crates, pull-out drawers, or any other item that you can put supplies into.

2. Shelves. Sometimes the easiest way to store things is simply by not putting them inside anything at all, but rather leaving them out but contained on a counter or shelf.

These are effective because they are basic, and they are smart picks because you can utilize them for absolutely anything. If you change your mind or your needs change, you won’t have invested in specialty storage items. With that in mind, there are a lot of other options, and today I will talk about the ways I use, and  other ways I have considered to use, to store my “other” supplies.

Ribbon storage is a tricky thing. I love dowels for rolls of ribbon and cool boxes like this one, but because I tend to buy single yards or ribbon that comes on cards, neither is a viable solution for me. I find containers with ribbon (loose) sorted by color to be the most effective method. I have heard that pinning lengths of ribbons to a string or even onto hangers in a closet is good, but I’ve yet to try it.

This unmounted stamp binder from the Idea-ology line by Tim Holtz is intriguing, and I know some people have great success with this kind of a system. I’ve just never been able to make it work long-term.

This holder for clear/unmounted stamps by 7 Gypsies is intriguing, I’m just not sure that it would hold enough or be the right size for my stamps to work well.

As far as wood mounted stamps go, I choose to store them on shelves around my studio. They’re out and visible, and easy to access. I have some older (rarely used) wood stamps stored in a box.

The supplies I have in boxes or on shelves right now depend on my frequency of use, and need to have at my fingertips. I keep most punches boxed:

Due to their frequency of use and to keep them away from prying preschooler fingers, I keep ink pads, paints, and mists up on high shelves just above my work surface.

Pens are a unique challenge, as most require you store them tip-down or sideways so that they do not dry out. I have a little box that I use (no idea where it came from) for most of my pens that keep them tucked right where I need them – within arms reach!

For my tools that get used often such as scissors, paint brushes, hole punches, and more I try to keep them in cups. I have this craft caddy (made by Fiskars a few years back) that I use for most things, but any kind of cup will work. The trick is finding ones that are a good size for the items you’re using them for.

This wraps up my articles for Scrapbook Update on storage and organization for now, but I have a feeling that I’ll be re-visiting some specific topics and challenges as I find solutions for myself. If you have any comments, or would like to add your own solutions please feel free to leave a comment here or contact me via e-mail at