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Trends In Scrapbook Organization

As I began to put together the content for this special week on Scrapbook Update devoted to organization, it began to dawn on me just how much some things have changed in the world of scrapbook organization since I made my first page.

Ten years ago, for most scrapbookers, storage was all about totes they could use to haul their entire stash to regular crop events. “What’s new in organization?” really meant “What do the new totes look like?” in those days.

I remember in 2000 when the massive Crop-In-Style XXL tote came out. I was thrilled because it was big enough to haul most of the stuff I had accumulated as a scrapbook store employee buying with a discount. It wasn’t long before crops at the store I worked at were filled with people pulling the huge rolling tote, or one of the ones that followed it into the market.

But ten years has changed a lot in the scrapbook industry. Many places no longer have a local scrapbook store, and many of the remaining stores no longer host open cropping. Long-time scrappers have had time over the life of the industry to accumulate stashes that are way too large to haul with them. Scrapbooking has become less portable and has moved into permanent storage in our homes instead.

Because of all of this, we’re now seeing two distinct changes in scrapbook organizing: fewer and smaller totes, and a focus on home organizing.

There are certainly fewer totes on the market. Once-dominant tote manufacturer Crop-in-Style was part of the bundle of brands that Creativity Inc. recently sold to ANW Crestwood. Most of the CIS totes are currently out of production. Cropper Hopper, which started out manufacturing mostly portable storage, now focuses mostly on home storage products. A few other companies have entered this market but not with broadly successful product lines in recent years. ThermoWeb’s MiMi line of totes, with its focus on small, style-conscious totes, seems the closest thing to dominance in the market lately.

Small is the other trend in totes. Since it is impossible for most scrappers now to try to haul our entire stashes with us, totes are now mostly sized for hauling just the necessities for a crop event.

In fact, my current choice of tote, instead of the huge XXL I used to tow around, has become the much smaller MiMi Travelmate (pictured above). It’s just large enough to carry a few page kits and essential tools & supplies for a crop.

As scrapping has shifted largely to a home-based activity (and many scrappers have larger stashes that need storing), the majority of new scrapbook organizing products are now aimed at home storage in a permanent scrapbook space. The most popular current products, such as vertical paper holders and storage cubes, aren’t portable at all. Most of the new ones being introduced, and finding a foothold in the market, aren’t portable either.

One of the most successful new products in the market recently is an example of another major trend in scrapbook organization. The Clip-It-Up system by Simply Renee is typical of the “non-specific” types of scrapbook storage that are now dominating the home storage market. Items such as the Clip-It-Up, cubes, drawers and even vertical storage holders can be used for a variety of items. They aren’t designed for a single use, so they can be put to different uses as a scrapbooker’s style or taste (and thus the supplies they need to store) changes.

Another recent trend that has been created by the shift to home storage is that the appearance of our storage has started to matter more. Storage has become more than just functional – it has become decor. Gone are the days of practical but dull canvas totes. We want our storage to work and look good doing it, because we have to live with it every day. This trend is both recorded and fueled by regular magazine features on scrap spaces and by publications like Stampington’s “Where Women Create”.

Part of the search for items that look good while serving a practical purpose has lead many scrapbookers into another trend: repurposing items designed for other household purposes to use them for scrapbook storage. Decorative baskets, jars and canisters, wood shelves, spice racks, and curtain racks are among the household items that can find new (and decorative) use in a scrap space.

What trends are coming in the future? Stamping is currently becoming a hot market segment and it is under-served in the organization market. There aren’t a lot of organization products aimed at the large amount of clear stamps on the market, and no one has produced a “killer app” product yet for dealing with difficult to store items like wood-mounted stamps or ink pads. These sorts of items are the storage growth market of the future.


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Organization Talk: The Big Picture

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Organization Week on Scrapbook Update! This week we will be bringing our readers a whole series of articles on scrapbook organization. Today, we are starting out with May’s discussion on the basic philosophy of how she chooses products and systems to use that are right for her.

I have been crafting for a very long time, and struggling with organization and storage for nearly as long. From pulling supplies out to sit at a TV-table to having my own space, odds are I’ve crafted in nearly every way possible in every home I’ve lived in. This week, I will be sharing a three part series with my thoughts on craft storage and organization.

Whether you have a dedicated room or a shelf in a closet, a small or large stash of supplies, every crafter knows the need for storage and organization of supplies. I have three rules I believe in strongly when it comes to this stuff:

  • Simple is always best. While highly specialized products are visually appealing, the more simple methods are more versatile, and will serve you better over the years.
  • Be OK with change. Over the years, I have changed my style, needs, and way of creating (not to mention the space I craft in) too many times to count. I understand that change, re-organization, and re-prioritizing is not only OK, it’s part of the process.
  • It’s only good if it works for you. I will give a number of suggestions of items that have worked for me, but that doesn’t mean my way is the only way. Items are only useful if they are useful to you. Don’t jump on a bandwagon just so you’re not left out – do it your way and create happy.

To start off, I’m going to talk about the big stuff. Before you get into detailed organization and how you store ribbons and buttons, it’s important to think about how you’ll work, and what pieces you’ll need.

A wheeled tote may be just the solution for all your needs if you have a small stash and need something portable. For crafters who attend a lot of crops, or for those using dining room tables or other family areas for crafting, this can be a great product. I recommend MiMi brand to anyone looking for a great wheeled tote or bag of any kind. I’ve been really pleased with their products.

For a much less expensive alternative, I suggest a plastic milk crate. They can be purchased at any number of stores (Target, Wal-Mart, office supply chains, etc.) and are a great tool so long as you can lift them. I have been using this method for at least ten years, and not only is it budget-friendly, but as a basic container they are versatile and can hold any number of items or smaller storage containers.

What if you are fortunate enough to have space for a dedicated table or desk? My top suggestion is to go for a work surface that is both wide and deep to give you plenty of working space around your layouts, not just space for the 12×12 paper you may have out in front of you. I found the desk pictured above at Ikea, and it’s worked as everything from my scrapbooking table to printer and computer holder to kids’ art table. The desktop is adjustable and can be raised or lowered a great deal – something I’ve taken advantage of over the years to change it from standard seating height to bar stool/standing height. The single shelf above as well as the adjustable square shelf have made this a great piece in my studio.

Remember: A simple design that can suit your changing needs is a good thing.

My second suggestion, when it comes to tables and desks, is to look outside the craft zone. Crafters aren’t the only ones who need work tables. I found this heavy duty workbench (similar to this product) at Costco. Because I needed a long, narrow piece to fit my space, I purchased it. The height, which is great for standing scrappers as well as keeping little fingers off my stuff, is a huge benefit to my needs, and thanks to its simplicity it will work in any number of capacities as needed.

Important to remember: While plastic-top tables may be less expensive, keep in mind that some craft techniques demand a harder, less flexible surface such as wood and won’t work on softer, more flexible surfaces.

Finally, don’t forget to look around your own home, garage sales, and extended family for used items that are no longer needed. I have a desktop set of shelves and my children’s former diaper table both in my studio. I actually purchased the diaper table with a future sewing table in mind, so it’s nice to finally have it to myself!

Shelves like this by Doodlebug are adorable, and no doubt useful to as any variety of supplies can be stored on them. The price tag of such specialty craft items can be unfriendly to the modest budget though, and so before splurging I believe in making sure it’s the absolute perfect item for you. While much less attractive, I’ve found a number of simple shelving units (both wall and floor units) from hardware, bed & bath, and department stores (like Target) for a fraction of the price.

Bottom line: Let your needs, usage, space, and budget determine what you use – not trends or what looks cool!

My studio is in no way magazine perfect, or the vision of vintage shabby chic loveliness that I wish it could be. I choose to be OK with this because it’s the most useful, productive space I could imagine within my limitations of space and budget, and for that reason I am happy. Whatever your budget, style, and space restraints, making the most of existing furniture and purchasing pieces that will be useful to you in a number of ways is the first place to start.

Want to hear more? I will be posting two more organization posts here this week, as well as posts on my personal blog about my studio and organization as well.

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