Storing Stamps and Storing Paper

My craft area 2014

Stamp and craft areas evolve over time. You get more stamps, more paper, more gadgets. You abandon one craft and discover another. You need to move or you need to change where you craft. All these things mean that no craft area can remain stagnant. I’ve recently re-vamped my stamping area and I’m really pleased with the results, so I thought I’d share it with you.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I did a series of posts on stamp room organization and stories back in 2013. (You can get to them via the “Studio & Organization” Category link in the blog’s sidebar or I’ve put links at the end of this blog post.) Many of the storage ideas I showed you then are still in use now. The main changes are the way I’m now storing my stamps, a tweak in my paper storage and some changes in how a few other things are stored as well as changing the floor plan a little. Maybe how I’ve set up my stamp area will inspire changes in your own!

What Changed and Why

My stamp area is part of a large (approximately 20′ x 21′) room full of windows looking out into our tree-filled yard. I love this room because of the beautiful light it gets. The room is shared between my stamp and craft area, my office area and exercise space. The room is great, but the existing floor was awful — a truly ugly 1950’s tile floor that desperately needed to be covered up! So we did our research and decided on a floating laminate floor (Pergo Newland Oak to be specific.) Moving everything out of the room took me a week. Putting the new floor in took us two days and then moving most of the things back in took me another two weeks. It was not a small project, but I think the results are beautiful.

As you probably know, one of the best ways to clean out a room is to have to move everything out of it. If you try to clean it out with everything in place, there is a tendency to let some things just stay where they are, even if you don’t really need them anymore. Although I no longer publish VSN, I still had a lot of VSN stuff here there and everywhere, including odds and ends of VSN samples, business files and other STUFF. This reorg of my craft and office space let me remove four filing cabinets and a TV stand/thread spool cabinet that I was using for my stamp storage. That extra space let me rearrange my craft and office area.

New Stamp Area Layout

My craft area aisle 2014

My new craft area floor plan is mostly set up as a long aisle. I almost always stand when I work and I’ve found that I like being about to simply turn around to access additional workspace and storage; I don’t want a lot of open floor space that I have to cross and re-cross to get to things. In this picture, my main work area is on the right, with supplies on the shelves below. This side is mostly the same as my previous set-up although you may notice that I moved the IRIS drawer containing my filed templates away and have a stamp press in its place (middle right.)


Main Stamping Area


My main stamping area is about the same, with supplies I use most close at hand. Some of these are stored on pegboard attached to IRIS drawer units (as I’ve shown you previously.)


Paper Storage

Paper Storage 2014

Formally, my paper storage was mostly confined to one large literature sorter with two small literature sorter cubes stacked on top. Stamps, stored in acrylic box picture frames, filled up most of a second literature sorter. This time around, I decided to devote more space to my paper, so the stamps were moved out of the second sorter.

The two sorters are now stacked on top of each other and are completely devoted to paper. (The sections each hold up to 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.) When I planned this, I wasn’t sure if stacking them would be stable, but was pleased to find that it does not wobble or move at all; it’s quite solid. There is a chest of drawers behind it, so even if someone were to fall against it, the chest behind would keep it in place. (By the way, I’ve put felt on the bottoms of all the furniture so it can all be easily moved without scratching the new floor.)


Paper Storage 2014 detail

My paper is organized by dominant color. Some colors get a single section of the sorter, while others (white and cream for example), have several. I held onto the acrylic frames that I had previously used for storing stamps in the second sorter and now use them to store smaller bits of paper. For example, this acrylic frame serves as a drawer to store small blue papers. I’ve got another for red and pink small papers, one for yellow, etc. This lets me store full-sized pieces in one or two sections and then store smaller pieces in another, where they won’t get lost among the bigger pieces.

 Stamp Storage

The other big thing that changed is my stamp storage. You may remember that previously my stamps were stored in four ways:

  • a metal thread spool display cabinet
  • a small desktop set of shallow metal drawers
  • acrylic box frames used as drawers in a literature sorter
  • sturdy boxes (for less-often used stamps like holiday stamps)

As I’ve shown you, the literature sorter became more paper storage. The thread spool cabinet was recycled. The metal drawer unit is now in my husband’s workshop. Replacing these three pieces are two stacked flat file drawer units from IKEA. So all of my stamps, both mounted and unmounted are together in this one place (with the exception of the less-used stamps, still in sturdy boxes on the nearby bookshelves.)

IKEA Flat File Stamp Storage 2014

These IKEA  drawer units come in a dark charcoal grey and white. I originally planned to get the darker ones because there are other black storage units in the room, but they only had one of the dark ones in stock, so I went with the white. Each unit has six drawers. The top three drawers of each unit are about 2 3/4″ deep inside and the bottom three are about 3 3/4″ deep inside. The inside of each drawer measures 23 1/2″ wide by 16 5/8″ from front to back. So the drawers are nicely sized for stamps.

stamp drawers 2014

Each drawer front has a dip in the middle where your hand goes to open the drawer. I used my computer to print labels for the top of each drawer’s dip area. From a distance, you can’t see the labels, but when you are right next to the unit and ready to open a drawer, they are easy to read.

Stamp drawer 2014 open

Each drawer holds quite a lot. Even large scenic stamps like these fit well. As I did previously with stamps stored in the thread spool display, unmounted stamps are stored in the same drawers as the mounted stamps. They are in clear envelopes and have white index sheets where the stamps inside the envelope are stamped in black. I like having all my stamps together; when I stored my unmounted stamps separately, I found I didn’t use them as much.

We have a lot of IKEA bookcases and drawers in our house and while most of them have held up very well over the years, the large two-drawer units where I store my inkpads and embossing powders sagged over the years, making them difficult to open. (They are the orange/brown units you see in the top picture.) Because these new drawers are also fairly large, I was worried that they would sag over time too. So when we put these together, I glued the bottoms into the sides.

When I glued my sagging IKEA drawers previously, I used wood glue in an art syringe. This time we used Loctite Construction Adhesive (purchased at Lowes.) I liked it better than the wood glue because it is less drippy, but we still found that using a syringe to get the glue into the narrow grooves that the drawer bottoms slide into makes the process much easier, quicker, less messy and with less glue wasted. Like the previously glued drawers, I waited 24 hours for the glue to cure completely before filling them, but with this adhesive, I didn’t have to weigh the drawers down while they cured. (See the previous “Fixing the Stamp Supply Drawers” post for more on gluing IKEA drawers.


Misc Supply Storage

Literature Sorter Storage 2014

You may have noticed that I put the two small literature sorters I mentioned earlier on top of the stacked IKEA units. These used to hold paper. I’ve put them on their sides to create vertical dividers that now store:

  • shrink plastic
  • scratch & sun papers
  • postoid paper
  • magnets
  • large sticker sheets & clip art
  • acetate printed images
  • rub-ons
  •  mounting supplies

The color of these little literature sorters is fairly close to the IKEA units color so they look fine sitting on top this way.


 The Other Side of the Aisle

My craft area 2014

While my most used supplies are in the main aisle, there is more storage on the outer side of the aisle. The green chest of drawers (that backs the stacked literature paper storage units) now holds:

  • book kits & die-cut boxes
  • glass, stone and photo books
  • books & album pieces
  • cutters & acrylic templates
  • eraser carving materials
  • sewing supplies
  • excess VSN stuff

Work Station 2014

The top of this chest of drawers has three work stations:

  • Xyron machine
  • corner rounder
  • coil binder

The back of the literature sorter has some stamped cork squares (because the back of this sorter used to be next to my office desk and served as a small bulletin board.) On top of this side of the literature sorter are some favorite dimensional art pieces and a series of re-purposed herb jars filled with tiny hole-less beads.

My craft area 2014

I showed you the two older IKEA two-drawer units (now back to back) and the small wood-topped IRIS drawer units (also back to back) in my 2013 organization posts. They are mostly used the same way, although the IKEA units are now mostly clear workspace on top instead of Xryon etc work stations and I moved the tape cartridge inkpad storage unit from the IRIS drawers to the IKEA top and put a small black paper sorter with finished cards on the IRIS drawer unit.


Other Odds & Ends

Storing the rest

Most of the rest of my storage is about the same as shown in my previous posts, although I did clean old samples out a tall stack of six large individual IRIS drawers and re-purposed them as drawers slipped into my existing bookshelves. Drawers can be neater than shelf space when you have lots of small related items to store together.

I also moved a tall bookshelf out of my office area and filled it with craft books, VSN print issues and the misc. boxes of stamps. Not shown is my template and stencil storage. I previously had that in a stand-alone IRIS desktop file drawer but I moved those into a lateral filing cabinet in my office area. The old individual IRIS drawer is now filled with spray paint cans (originally stored in the TV stand beneath the old thread spool cabinet.)

So some things moved around a bit. Some things stayed the same. Some storage was added and some was taken away. A year from now, I’m likely to be doing it all again. But that is part of having a stamping area. It is a lot of work to reorganize and clean it up, but it is so satisfying once it is done!

Nancie, VSN

Previous Stamp & Supply Storage Posts:

17 thoughts on “Storing Stamps and Storing Paper

  1. Hi Nancie!! Great to hear from you again. Your area looks wonderful!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Hi Mary Jane,

      The craft area portion of the room is about 7 feet wide by 14 feet long.
      The open floor walkway area within this aisle is about 2 1/2 feet wide.
      There is a similar walking width in front of the new stamp storage units at the end of the aisle, letting me walk completely around the outside green chest of drawers/IKEA units/Wood-topped IRIS units part of things.
      The remaining bit of the room’s length is my office area, with my desk, a few more low bookcases and two lateral file units. The rest of the room’s width is mostly exercise space.

  2. Great space. Just love all the daylight you have. Thanks for sharing your creative space.

    1. Hi, Yes, the light in the morning is beautiful. This room is on the east end of the house so early in the morning you get dappled light coming in through the trees. On darker rainy days or at night, the room can be dark (which is why I have lamps all along my work area. Eventually we’ll re-do the ceiling in this room and get better overhead lights in the process. But, one thing at a time right?

  3. Thanks, Nancie for sharing. My studio flooded last year and I had to move everything out and then back again. The return took more than two weeks. I envy your clear spaces and low stacks. I have been going up with my storage and now would like to lower the stacks and see to the other side of the room. Do you have a method that helps you decide when something is no longer needed? As soon as I get rid of something, I need it. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Carol, I think you might look at your space problem in three ways.

      First are you buying things that you don’t use? Look through what you’ve got. Do you see any patterns in what you have too much of and what types of things aren’t getting used? Do you do any binge shopping at sales or conventions and wind up with purchases that you regret? (I tend to do that at conventions myself.) Figuring out when you are acquiring things that you don’t use can help with future shopping. It doesn’t mean that you can’t buy at sales or conventions or whatever — just that you are thinking about what you buy more critically when you are there.

      Second, look through all your stuff. Try to cull out the things that aren’t really your taste. We’ve all bought things that seemed like a good idea in the store but when we get it home we aren’t as thrilled and never wind up using it. Get rid of it. Also, are there crafts or techniques that you purchased supplies for and then decided that you really didn’t like or are too time-consuming and realistically won’t do again? Get rid of that too. If you aren’t sure, consider packing it up in a box and putting it elsewhere for six months or so. If you find you aren’t digging into that box, get rid of it. I’m a pack rat and I tend to keep all kinds of bits and pieces that I think might at some point be useful. But if that kind of thing has hung around for years unused, that’s a sign that maybe it can be gotten rid of. Recycle it. Give it away. Trash it. It hurts at first but once you get started, it is liberating. There may wind up being a few things that you find you want after you got rid of them, but weigh that against having a less crowded workspace. It’s a decent tradeoff.

      Third, look at your storage and make sure you are using storage that stores the most stuff in the smallest amount of space (while still keeping it accessible of course.) For example, I was previously storing my stamps in three different ways. The TV stand/Thread spool display cabinet let me see my stamps all spread out in front of me and I liked it very much but the amount of stamps stored in that space was limited. The metal desktop drawer unit took up potential workspace and the literature sorter approach only let me look at a small number of stamps at a time. Combining almost all of my stamps into the two stacked IKEA drawer units (which only cost $119 each) freed up workspace and let me spread out my paper storage, while actually improving my access to my stamps.

      Hope this is helpful. Good luck!

  4. I am really liking he IKEA Drawers however, I cannot find them in the website. What is the name/style of drawer system did you purchase?

    1. Hi Alicia, My apologies for the slow reply. We had a wedding in the family and so things have been super busy! In answer to your question, here is a link to the IKEA drawers I use for stamp storage: They are called “Alex”. The website shows them on caster wheels but we got two of the six-drawer units and assembled them without the wheels and stacked them. (I saved the wheels in case I ever want to use them that way in the future.)

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