14 July 2011

A Scrap Quiz - What about those scraps?

Hi there folks,

Got kind of a different one for you today.

Different in that the question came from a lovely lady named Tina. She sent me this email...

Hello Debra (great oracle of cardmaking and scrapping).  I have just one question for you today and unless I get some wisdom or intervention from someone with more experience, I seriously am concerned for me and my family's wellbeing.   


I keep hanging onto every little thing and I am almost buried.  They fall into three categories: so cute I can't throw it away, just a really good colour cardstock that I can't throw it away, it just MIGHT come in handy at a later date.

The problem is finding it again or otherwise remembering that you kept it in the first place. 

What is the ruthless moment when you go "that's it" you are destined for the rubbish bin?

I need intervention.....

Love Tina

Well, Tina, I'm here to help you!

Hopefully these ideas will help you wrangle those scraps into submission!

Here is how I store my scraps.

I have two types: Patterned paper and cardstock. 

Patterned Paper

The patterned paper scraps (mainly for scrapbooking) are stored in these drawers in three flat containers.

Small, medium and large.

I've got the three containers to break 'em up a bit.

Don't like rifling through the big scraps to find the little ones, so division is necessary.

Pulling them out like this helps to see what I have and if I need a little scrap, I just pick up the little scrap box and find something in there that works.

I also like keeping them together because of the combinations that come out of the whole mixed-up thing.

These are not all my scraps. 

I love October Afternoon and have a lot of their collections. I keep each collection in a bag and the big scraps are put back in the bag.

The little OA scraps are thrown into the three containers to spread the love around.

Purging: These containers are purged when they're overflowing and annoying me.

I just pull 'em out and give them a going over. I usually know what I want to keep and what I don't.

I keep the littlest bits of my favourite papers.

By little I mean 1 x 3cm - if it's little, and I like it, I'll keep it.

I chuck out big bits of paper that I hate.

By big I mean 12 x 12. If I just don't like a piece of paper anymore, out it goes.

If the yuk paper is white on the back, I'll keep it for notepaper for when I'm scrapping. I often need notepaper while scrapping, do you?

Other papers (and scrapping stuff) get sold at the markets once a year or so.

A tip: Keep a selection of dodgy papers/cardstock on hand for that quick play when you've bought something new, for an experiment or when you just need a bit of patterned paper and you don't want to use your good stuff.


The biggest difference for me between patterned paper and cardstock is that I tend to use the bigger pieces of patterned paper for scrapping and card making, but I use the tiniest bits of cardstock because of punch art.

When doing punch art you can get a lot of use out of a 2" square, can't you? Yep, totally.

Here's how I store my cardstock.

12 x 12 on the left there in colour groups.

I need to know the names of colours and where they live, so there's a white A4 piece of paper in there with each colour name written on it and that colour of cardstock is behind the paper.

Works well - helps me identify colours that I'm not as familiar with and also shows me where to put the card colours when I restock them.

Big scraps go at the back here.

If I'm not as familiar with it, I name it.

Yep, I just write on the top of it, so I know what the colour is when I'm using it.

I'm not a purple person, so I don't know them by sight like I do the other colours, so I name them in particular.

These scraps are divided into colour groups from lightest to darkest like your coloured pencils in primary school.

(The brown there is actually a smaller scrap even though it doesn't look like it)

Moving onto the bags.

I really want to draw your attention to the bags.

Each colour of card has it's own bag.

I used to have a cream bag, yellow bag, orange bag, pink bag etc, but I realised I was looking for specific colours for too long within the bags, so they got split up and each colour name got it's own bag. So much better.

Yellow bag got split into:

Other ones I can't remember
And all the no-names in a bag of their own

I write on the bag in Nikko pen and put a bit of sticky tape over it.

Hello, Dandelion, you are my favourite yellow.

(It's American Crafts from Spotlight)

Bling. I use the back of this for the pink. Nice.

I tell ya, naming all the bags was the best thing I did.

Easy to tell what you're looking for at night when the light might not be as good as it is during the day.

Easy to find the colour you want.

Easy to put colours away.

Easy to see what you need to buy more of.

Easy to keep track of everything, so you don't chop up new 12 x 12 sheets unnecessarily.

Easy to keep track of what you're not using. Instead of organising the bags by colour order like me, you could organise them by use. When you use a colour bag, put it back in the front of the box. After six months, the poor sad bags at the back could be purged without guilt.

(This idea might work a bit better with patterned paper, but you get the idea. The point is to get rid of unused stuff)

Very left (out of shot) - 12 x 12 paper

Back of box - big scraps

Front of box - smaller scraps (usually 6 x 6 and smaller) in named colour bags.

Panning around onto the desk now...

The black and brown are out because of a bear I'm in the middle of making. That's the brown no-name bag there, just needed a brown.

See all the scraps?

When I'm working at my desk doing punch art I always have a pile of scraps like this.

This one's too big though - A purge is in order.

By purge I mean three things:

1.  Trim the cardstock - cut the punch negatives off like on that square bit. I'd get rid of the negative and keep the rest. Make sense? Doing this kind of trimming and sorting of this pile would take 2 mins.

2.  Chuck the dodgy bits like the purple piece on the right with the two circles cut out of it. And the little bits that just annoying at the time.

3. Put the bigger pieces of double up card back into their colour bags. 

The aim with the on-the-table scraps is to have one piece of each specific colour in the pile only. 

That's the aim, doesn't always work.

One piece of cream, one piece of Dandelion, one piece of Lime Crush, one piece of Evening Surf etc etc and all of them about 6 x 6.

I can't stand punching out of big bits of card, so I cut 'em down.

My work flow

I'm working at my desk and I need a piece of Dandelion.

I go here first...

Um, not here (pretend it's not).

Then I go here...

...the Dandelion bag.

If it's empty, I go back here...

...to the big scraps.

If it's empty, I go here...

...to the 12 x 12 pieces.

If it's empty, I need to go to the shops. Rats.

(That wouldn't happen because I would've noticed and bought it already. Please, I can't be running out at 3am in the morning...)

If there's a bit of Dandelion there, I grab it and cut it into quarters. Three for the Dandelion bag and one for my desk.


I know it sounds extreme and very system-y, but I've been doing this a long time and trust me, staying on top of your scraps, particularly with punch art, is key to success and saving money.

One last thing with the cardstock scraps

If I'm packing up my desk and want it to look clean, I just throw all the current on-the-table scraps in a bag and put it on top of the 12 x 12 paper.

Gets the place tidied up in a jiffy.

It's also easy to pull out and dump on the desk for next time.

What do other people do?

These ladies are scrapbookers, so I assume they're talking about patterned paper, but this is what I know they do.

Noell Hyman keeps all her scraps in one container on her desk. She likes seeing the combos that come together when the paper is all mixed up.

Michelle Wooderson does the same. One container. Purges when it gets full.

Angie Lucas - She suggests purging if you're feeling buried. If it's weighing you down, it's gotta go. I totally get that...you know that feeling when you walk near your space and you feel weighty because it's annoying you? Purge!

My advice is the same - purge.

Make a keep pile and chuck pile and sort your scraps into those two piles.

Chuck the chuck ones and then enjoy your keep ones for a bit. Oooh, pretty.

Try a system for your keepers.

I'm an organiser, so I like systems - but my systems work for me. They may not work for you.

Some suggestions though:

Try the three containers for patterned paper.

Try the named bags for the cardstock.

Try named bags for patterned paper.

Do you like your scraps all mixed in together or separate?

What about access?

I would never store my patterned paper scraps the way I store my cardstock scraps because I use the scraps differently.

How do you use yours?

Collections together?

Mix and match?

A bitta both?

When you scrap or craft next time think about the way you work and organise accordingly.

When I scrap I don't know what I'm looking for usually, so I like to rifle through all the scraps I have.

Enter...three containers.

Tick, tick my system works for me.

(And my policy with rifling is to use the first piece I come across that I know will work. I don't try to find the best option, just the first good one)

When I do punch art I know definitely what colour I want and I want to find it pronto.

Enter...named colour bags.

Tick, tick my system works for me.

Try something. See how it fits. Change it up. Give it a go. 

Remember my advice when re-organising things?

Make a decision and see how it works. If it works, yay.

If it doesn't, try a different approach and see how that works.

Basically your scraps will be organised by:



Theme (Christmas, collections)

Inspiration (all jumbled together)

A combo of above

and stored in:




and they'll either be:

Out in the open where you can see them

Or in a container/drawer where you can't.

What combo works for you?

Get 'em out in front of you if you need them there to inspire you.

Put 'em away if you can't stand to see the mess.

A couple of other suggestions:

Becky Higgins doesn't keep any scrap under 2" square. Toss, toss.

(She scraps completely differently now, but that's beside the point. I remember her saying she chucked the littlies and I remember thinking I wouldn't do that with cardstock because of what I could get out of it for punch art. It all comes down to how you use what you have)

You could do what Stephanie Howell does and totally toss your scraps altogether! I know, amazing, hey? But it works for her.

She's a mother of four girls (including twins) and her husband is a soldier. She's on a design team and she has to stay on task. She gets the new release each month, uses the stuff from it and then all the scraps go in the bin. She does it to clear her head, I reckon, she doesn't want all last month's stuff getting all messed into this month's stuff, so she knows that what's on her desk is current to what she's doing.

Not that I know Stephanie or anything, I'm just saying I reckon that's why she does it. She doesn't keep her scraps, she has no need for them. She might give 'em to the bigs as she calls them, they do a lot of craft together, but my point is she just moves 'em on out. Good for her.

One other thing

I used to sort my patterned paper scraps by colour.

White/cream bag
Yellow bag
Pink bag
Multi-coloured bag

I also had a couple of themed bags (actually I still have a couple of themed bags)

Christmas (have)
Lined and ledger paper (have)
Music paper (have)

Some of the above scraps are mixed in with the others, but I've a lot of lined and ledger, so they have their own bag.

And Christmas only comes once a year (feels like twice), so those scraps stay in their bag until I need 'em.

I don't sort my patterned paper scraps by colour anymore because I just don't need to. I used to scrap differently to what I do now and I found myself moving away from it. I distinctly remember it working for me though, I'd pick up the pink bag and see what pink paper it had to offer. Anyway, just a thought.

Well, I think that's it.

Far out, are you still with me?

Didn't know I had so much to say about scraps now did you?

I'm just going to re-read Tina's email to make sure I've covered everything...


I keep hanging onto every little thing and I am almost buried.  They fall into three categories: so cute I can't throw it away, just a really good colour cardstock that I can't throw it away, it just MIGHT come in handy at a later date.

The problem is finding it again or otherwise remembering that you kept it in the first place.

What is the ruthless moment when you go "that's it" you are destined for the rubbish bin?

My specific advice for you, Tina.

~  Sort into keep and chuck (you define the keep and chuck criteria)

~  Chuck your chuckers and love it!

~  Try a system I've mentioned above - one that helps you store and keep track of your scraps. And one that inspires you. Some people can't stand storing their stuff in bags - if that's you, don't do it, you'll hate it. Try baskets instead.

~  Make a collage of all those cute bits you can't throw away and frame it.

I'm thinking white frame, with a white background and your cute, colourful bits in the middle. Leave a border of white around the collage for extra design impact. For example, 4 x 6 collage in a 5 x 7 frame - this'll leave a 1/2" border around the collage, make sense?

For the collage you could punch the scraps into squares and line them up grid style, or just leave them free-form as you found them. Or hand cut your bits into squares and line them up grid style. A bit of handmade and a bit of organisation if you need that sort of thing in a collage.

With your frame done and hung you can enjoy those bits every day - I know, patterned paper makes me happy too, so I just might steal the idea.

~  Don't throw that good colour of cardstock away - even if it is a scrap. Put all like ones in a bag and label it "I just couldn't throw you away" ha ha

~  Seriously, try the bags. See if you like 'em.

~  The ruthless moment is - when it's annoying you.

My philosophy is - I know I paid for the bit of paper that this scrap came from, but it's annoying me, so it's gotta go.

You might think you are throwing away money, but you are throwing away time if you keep it.

Time in working out how to store it.

Time to sort through it every single time you reach into that drawer.

Time lost because of inspiration lost. You hate that paper. You see it. You lose your inspiration. You don't want to craft. You walk away from your desk. That actually equals money lost too because you're not using all the other stuff you've bought.

One scrap of pattened paper can't cause that much strife, but lots of little annoying scraps can!

As Noell Hyman says, We have to pay attention to all the little blockages because they do block our flow.

I agree.


Anyway, Tina, I hoped that helped you! And for everyone else out there, I hope it helped you too. Or intrigued you. Or gave you an enjoyable peek into someone else's process.

That's all folks.

Hey, Tina, let me know how the scrap wrangling goes, okay?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!