Dear Coach Juli,

I’m a crafter. I have so much stuff I don’t know how to manage all of it. There are lots of little pieces of papers and ribbons and fabrics. I want to keep it all because it could be useful. How do I manage all of this? – Frustrated Artsy Type

Dear Frustrated,

Ironically I have been going through my own craft supplies lately – sort of a spring-cleaning thing – and found exactly what you mentioned above: lots of cute little things, some potentially useful, and some that I had high hopes of using and never did. I used to make cards by hand and use stamps and inks and all that.

Juli Shulem

I don’t make cards as much anymore but much of what I had been keeping I wouldn’t want to use anyway. In any case, here is my process. Perhaps it will help you and others as well.

First, I opened up the huge craft crate I’ve had stored in my cabinet forever and took the whole thing apart. I took everything out and laid it out on a table (some was on the floor too, I admit). Wow, I had a lot of stuff! There were baggies full of Shrinky Dinks creations my kids and I made probably a decade ago that I thought I would make cards with, but the best ones have been used and the rest are pretty ugly. So, I just tossed the entire bag of them. Done.

Second, I sorted all the items and bagged them according to category – so all the stickers I put in one baggie, and all the foam mounting tabs for making cool layered cards are now all nicely bagged together so I can actually find them when I want them. I placed the slew of adhesive corners for photos, which I will use now that I know I have them, with the mounting tabs. All “things that adhere things to other things,” are now together and easy to locate.

Next, I took all the card stock and varying envelopes and put them into a special box I have for card-making – all these stay together so they don’t get bent up and ruined. That system has been working great elsewhere in the house – I just didn’t realize I had more of these in the craft area as well.

Then I combined the baggies of similar-use items into larger Ziplock bags, found a suitable plastic storage bin to place everything in, and stored it away. It’s easy to get to and easy to see what I have, while I was at it I made up three quick cards that I could put into my card-organizer box for upcoming occasions. The lesson here is: Group like items together and you will find and use them better. In the process lots of things got weeded out – anything that was crinkled a little or marred in someway was tossed. There are plenty more where they came from.

Finally, there are some great tools and materials I never plan to use again – so onto Craigslist they go. Remaining items I will donate to a teacher for use in the classroom or to Art from Scrap – nothing will be wasted, but I certainly don’t need to be the keeper of all these things anymore. Take one area of your craft collection and go through it judiciously. If you really don’t see yourself using an item in the relatively near future then pass it along to where it will be used.


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