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Organization: The Small Things

The littlest pieces of our scrapbooking stash can often be the most time and space consuming when it comes to storage and organization. Paper, stickers, brads, photos, and buttons – scrapbookers have dozens, if not hundreds, of these items they need to keep someplace. Today I am sharing my thoughts on storage and organization of these small items.

Perhaps one of the most debated topics in storage is patterned paper. By color? Style? Manufacturer? What’s the best way?

I believe vertical storage to be best, both for keeping paper from being damaged and for the ease of sorting through and finding what I want. Depending on your goals and what kinds of papers you keep, your needs for storage can vary greatly. Once upon a time I relied on a paper taker by Crop In Style for all of my paper. I have kept my cardstock in vertical storage by color for several years now, and I like the ease of use and being able to see when I’m running low in any given color at a quick glance.

While I like sorting my cardstock by color, I prefer to sort my patterned paper by brand. I find the vertical paper holders by Cropper Hopper to be phenomenal. Some of the ones I use today are the originals I purchased over five years ago – I’ve yet to replace any. To keep things from sliding around I keep them in a milk crate. This also allows me to store random papers between the files.

I used to keep my paper by color and patterns (polka dots, stripes, etc). However, I found that method to be a lot more work, and in the end more time consuming. When I would look for coordinating papers from a specific line or brand, I might have to look through all of my paper to find them. As you scrapbook, think about what would make things easier for you, and let that guide you in how you organize your supplies.

Next, let’s talk about stickers.

For the most part stickers and rub-ons get put into either a drawer or a small plastic tote (standing) where they’re easy to sort through. Lately though, I’ve been putting sticker sheets onto binder rings (available at any office store) and hanging them for storage. Being able to flip through the sheets quickly is a bonus, and I’ve found it to be a great way to keep new product out where I’ll see and use it.

The down side of the binder rings is that often you have to keep the stickers (or other items) in original packaging or punch a hole yourself. My solution has been to move them off of the binder ring and into a drawer or bin once they’ve been used a few times or no longer stay put well on the ring.

What about all those little bits? Rub-ons, tags, journaling papers, and other paper bits that need a home? To be honest, I’m not entirely happy with where I am at on this particular area of organization, but what I have for now is some very small drawers.

They are divided into small tags, journaling papers, and rub-ons. What I like about this is that it keeps things orderly, but I do not find digging through everything to be convenient for creating. I would consider either plastic bags (bound together with hole at top for binder ring) or perhaps a shoebox-sized container to keep the tags and papers in at this point, but I have hesitated because I’m not convinced either of those will be a better solution.

(Important to remember: Here in the real world, after the photos are taken, things are going to get used. Messed up. Worked with. Just because highly organized systems sound good, doesn’t mean that they work well.)

Next up is photos, and for me this is an easy one. I keep (fairly chronological)  Cropper Hopper Photo Cases full of my photos, as I choose to print any photos I want to keep. I consider digital files of my photos to be a back up, rather than my primary storage solution.

There are photo boxes of so many sizes and shapes, and some like the Memory Dock one pictured above come with a number of dividers to allow you to further organize your photos. While I like this concept in theory, once upon a time I tried to do this and found the set-size plastic photo holders to be too limiting. Sometimes I needed just a portion of one section for an event and then what? Do I add another event in? Leave the space blank? I wound up frustrated and wasting space. I like index cards in between events/dates in my photo storage boxes because they fit right in while allowing me to customize the amount of space taken by any given event.

I also keep a smaller box filled only with photos I’m wanting to scrapbook. Divided or open like the Martha Stewart box pictured above, it is a great way for me to keep photos grouped by layout, and access them quickly.

Finally, what about all those tiny items? Brads, buttons, pins, charms, photo corners, and other little bits can be frustrating because if they’re not stored in a easy-to-use fashion, you’ll spend a lot of time looking for that one special item. My first tip to you is something I learned from Tim Holtz: take stuff out of its packaging! By removing product from it’s packaging you’ll not only save space, but when you go to look for something it’ll be easier to find an item that will work for you.

Storage by type or by color are both equally effective in my experience. Stacy Julian has an excellent video blog series on her color storage system going on that I highly recommend watching to see embellishments stored in that way.

If your space is limited and you crop a lot, I cannot recommend the Urban Stamp Tote by MiMi enough. I purchased mine when it was brand new, and I’ve loved it ever since.

Don’t be put off by the name – I find it to be more useful for tiny bits than stamps of any kind. It can be kept open at home, then folded up, put in its tote, and hauled off to a crop. I consider it one of the best splurges I ever made in craft storage and organization.

Another choice for more compartments and a more permanent solution are boxes like this one by Craft Design. They are fantastic for tiny items, especially because keeping them in a shallow drawer makes them easy to access. Before you purchase a crafting one, though, visit your local home improvement store and look in the garage storage area. Storage boxes for nails, drill bits, and other small home improvement items are often a fraction of the price of crafting items if you don’t mind utilitarian colors like gray. Here’s one from Home Depot. Another great place to look is fishing or outdoor supplies. Tackle boxes are fantastic!

I keep color drawers for buttons, and I also put random bits and tiny chipboard by color in these drawers as well. What I love about a container like this is that the drawers come out. So if I am needing a number of green buttons, I can pull the drawer out and work with it, then return it to it’s spot when I am done. I choose not to organize everything by color though. I keep pins, charms, brads, and many other items according to item type. It’s a personal choice, and it works for me because all of my small bits and pieces are kept within my set of drawers here.

Jars are another great storage option for small pieces. Doodlebug has a series of jars available. I use some glass jam jars (purchased at the grocery store) that are wonderful. If plastic is a better option for you just look in the storage (or kitchen) departments of any store like Target. I keep my flowers in a plastic tub and dig through it when I want some, and I have used small jars for sequins, beads, and other small accents as well.

The bottom line? Personal preference, space, and style all need to be considered. Keeping things simple, and easy to both use and keep organized is key. One final tip I have to share is that I suggest avoiding lids. For some items in jars I think they’re fine, but in my experience when I use boxes, totes, or small containers with lids I end up throwing them (the lids) out. Why? I want ease of use, and for me sliding drawers or items with no lid is a step easier.

I will be sharing a third article on Friday covering the miscellaneous bits and pieces of my stash, along with a number of posts on my personal blog this week as well. If you have questions or comments I welcome them here, or I can be reached at may@scrapbookupdate.com

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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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ANW/Crestwood Buys Creativity Inc. Scrapbook, Decor Brands

ANW/Crestwood, the parent company of brands such as Paper Adventures and TPC Studio, has announced that its deal to acquire most of Creativity Inc’s brands is now final. Creativity Inc. brands Westrim Crafts, Autumn Leaves, DMD, Crop in Style, Hip in a Hurry, Room Relish and Paper Bliss are all now a part of ANW/Crestwood.

Creativity Inc. had previously announced in February that it was selling its scrapbooking brands and its Hip In A Hurry brand to ANW/Crestwood. Shortly before that announcement, Creativity Inc. was seen clearing out the remaining inventory for those brands at CHA Winter 2010 and had indicated to Scrapbook Update it planned to shelve the brands.

Creativity Inc. is retaining the rapidly-growing Blue Moon Beads brand.

At ANW/Crestwood, the Paper Bliss brand will become part of the TPC Studio product group. The rest of the newly acquired Creativity Inc. brands will be made into a new ANW/Crestwood unit called CreativityWorks. This unit will be based in the Los Angeles area and will operate in parallel to the company’s existing consumer units, TPC Studio and The Paper Company. Executive Vice President Nick Lazarou and Vice President Abbey Blaszczyk will run CreativityWorks for ANW/Crestwood.

For 2010, an agreement between the two companies will have product shipping continue out of the Creativity Inc. location in Van Nuys, CA. By the end of the year, however, ANW/Crestwood anticipates consolidating shipping for all of its units in one location. CreativityWorks will continue to operate a Hong Kong procurement office as Creativity Inc. has historically done for the purchased brands.

In a statement, ANW/Crestwood President and Co-CEO Mark Caliguire said, “We have acquired a business with a long history in the craft market, with brands that have been mainstays for years, but more importantly, this new company is comprised of a group of people with energy, creativity, product knowledge and a desire to continue to broaden into a number of new markets while expanding our core craft business”. He added, “I am excited about the sourcing expertise we have acquired and how well this will integrate into our current product teams.”

EVP Nick Lazarou stated, “The owners of ANW/Crestwood bring a new commitment to energizing this business. We have been given the green light to take this to another level with the commitment of the financial and creative resources necessary to make CreativityWorks a consumer products company to be reckoned with.”

Added VP Abbey Blaszczyk, “We have been working on designs, licenses and sales strategies to execute in anticipation of the finalization of this deal, and we are ready to hit the ground running with numerous product presentations in an array of consumer retail channels”.

ANW/Crestwood has a large booth (#1623) reserved for CHA Summer 2010 in Chicago.

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Creativity Inc. Sells Scrapbook Brands

Creativity, Inc. has announced that it is selling its scrapbooking brands Westrim, Autumn Leaves, DMD and Crop In Style to ANW/Crestwood, along with the company’s Hip In A Hurry brand.

At CHA Winter 2010, Creativity Inc. was clearing out the remaining inventory for those brands and had indicated to Scrapbook Update it planned to shelve those brands. The sale to ANW/Crestwood, which is the parent of The Paper Company, Paper Adventures, and TPC Studio, will finalize in March. Operations for those brands will continue in Los Angeles under Nick Lazarou and Abbey Blaszczyk. As part of the transition, Creativity Inc. will provide support services for ANW’s west coast operations, including warehousing and shipping, throughout 2010.

Tinkering Ink, which became part of Creativity, Inc. in January 2009, does not appear to have been part of the sale transaction.

Going forward, Creativity Inc will focus on growing its rapidly expanding Blue Moon Beads brand.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to expand our business with the addition of these outstanding product lines and brands” said Mark Caliguire, Co-President of ANW/Crestwood. “We believe that there is a very strong fit with our existing customer base, as well as the opportunity to grow in new channels with our combined products, brands and design skills.”

“With our combined design and sourcing talent, we believe that we can offer truly compelling products in all our categories” said Nick Lazarou. Abbey Blaszczyk added “There is a great fit between the cultures and working style of Creativity and ANW. We are already working on new products that we can offer together.”

“These businesses have been a very important part of Creativity and I believe that they will be an equally important part of ANW/Crestwood” said Ron Cooper, CEO of Creativity. “The sale of these businesses allows us to focus completely on growing our Blue Moon Beads fashion beads business. We have doubled the sales of Blue Moon over the past 5 years and believe that we can do so again with the resource focus and streamlining that this transaction provides. In short, we hope that this transaction will help both businesses be more successful.”

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News From CHA Winter 2010

Here’s a news round-up of stories that came to Scrapbook Update’s attention at CHA-Winter 2010 in Anaheim:

Queen & Co. Halts Shipping of Disney Print Paper

Prior to CHA, Queen & Co. showed a sneak peek of a collection called Magic Memories that was designed to be used for Disney scrapbooking. One of the prints, the white background one in the photo below, featured interlinked circles that were obviously a mouse ear pattern:

Disney is notoriously protective of its trademarks such as its Mickey ears logo. After receiving questions from multiple potential buyers about whether they were on questionable legal ground, Queen & Co. is opting not to ship that paper design to err on the side of caution. The rest of the papers in the collection will ship as scheduled.

Darice Acquires Core’dinations

Effective January 22nd, cardstock company Core’dinations has been acquired by Strongsville, Ohio-based Darice. Almost two years old, Core’dinations made a big splash at CHA Winter with its embossed cardstock collection packs that coordinate with collections by companies like Jenni Bowlin and Cosmo Cricket. The core of Core’dinations cardstock is a different color than its surface, creating interesting effects when sanding or embossing it.

Anthony Grinnell, Core’dinations director, said “Our business has seen tremendous growth since it’s inception in February of 2008. We will be able to accelerate that growth as we join with Darice and their extensive line of paper-crafting products.”

“Bringing Core’dinations product lines into the Darice family of products allows us to provide the most comprehensive and highest quality paper-crafting assortment for our retailer customers” said Mike Birkholm, Darice’s president. “Additionally, we are pleased that Anthony will continue to provide creative and strategic direction for this great line of products.”

Darice was founded in 1954, and is most widely known for its non-scrapbooking crafts products in areas such as jewelry making, kids crafts, and floral design.

EK Success Goes Peanuts

Charlie Brown and the gang are coming to EK Success. They have acquired the licensing rights to create products featuring the popular characters. A few products are coming in the CHA releases, and a few sneak peeks of Halloween products were on display in the CHA-Winter booth as well.

CHA 2011 Dates Conflict With Paperworld 2011

The schedule that has been announced by CHA for the 2011 show in Los Angeles – Jan. 29th through Feb. 1st – is exactly the same as the dates for the Paperworld 2011 show in Frankfurt, Germany. Paperworld is the world’s leading trade fair for the paper, stationery and office supplies market. Many scrapbook industry companies have ties to it.

Craft Critique Sponsoring Event for Professional Crafters

Craft Critique announced they are sponsoring an event for professional crafters in Chicago, on Oct. 21-23, 2010. Few details are currently available but you can sign up to receive future updates at the Crafty Con website.

Creativity Inc. Discontinuing Scrapbook Products

After offering only limited introductions at CHA-Summer 2009 in Orlando, Creativity Inc. is shelving its scrapbook product lines. The parent company of Westrim, Crop-in-Style, Autumn Leaves and Foof-a-La had its booth in the General Crafts section in Anaheim, and had only a small display of clearance merchandise that was scrapbook-related.

Mudd Puddles Picked Up By Creative Imaginations

Mudd Puddles, one of Scrapbook Update’s CHA-Summer 2009 Hot Picks, is no longer being produced independently by creator Dave Felber. The announcement was made at CHA-Winter in Anaheim that Mudd Puddles is now part of the Creative Imaginations line of products. The product, a great fit at Creative Imaginations due to their affinity for doing beach-themed products, is now limited to just 10 colors.

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