A while back I embarked on a discussion about the evolution of my crafting area. I touched on stamps, briefly back then. And with the huge collection that I have (stamps are a weakness of mine!) mostly, just on the unmounting of them from their wood blocks and advocating clear stamps. But the never-ending problem is knowing what you have, and being able to find it.
In the beginning, you have a few images. Typically, it doesn’t take much to have an inventory in your head. And if you can physically see them, easily – all the better! But that is like buying the small tote when you are a scrapbooker. What are you thinking? It’s a nirvana that doesn’t last. Sooner or later, your collection grows and you find yourself buying duplicate themes, without realizing it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — but if it is because you aren’t organized — it is time to fix that problem.
So I just came home from a stamp show this past weekend and assembled my purchases into their new home. It’s second nature to me now, but it isn’t something that I’ve discussed before. So I thought I’d cover it here.
- First, I either unmount my stamps from their wooden block, or take my purchased unmounted stamps and mount them on EZMount. I use regular EZMount for unmounted red rubber, and EZMount Thin for those that have been unmounted from the wood blocks and already have cushion. Clear stamps don’t need any help in that department.
- If not provided, I stamp the images onto a 6×6 index sheet, and
- put them into a 6×6 Paper Taker (CTMH), which is the same type of plastic envelope their stamp sets are sold in (link is to a friend’s site for information purposes only).
- And then into a Sterilite Show-Offs CD container for storage. These are labeled with a number.
- This is placed on a DVD rack by IKEA, the Benno Wall Shelf. I have five of these mounted on the wall.
Ok, now they are physically ready to be used and stored away. So it’s time to add them to the ‘inventory’ system. Gosh, that sounds so official! But it is really accessible and easy to use. I use Photoshop Elements Organizer software to catalog my stamps.
- Take a low-res picture / scan of the stamp image or index
- Categorize as needed
- Place it into a container with room and make note of the container number.
When your collection gets larger, you cannot physically store stamps by category. So build that into your system from the beginning. This way, when Container 1 gets full, you move on to Container 2. You don’t think, ‘Winter is full, do I need to buy another container for Winter?’ No! If you know what you have, you don’t need to containerize by theme.
Here are some screenshots to help you visualize the system. This is the Adobe Photoshop Elements’ Organizer screen.
You can see the images here, and a category selector on the left hand side.
You should be able to click on these for a larger image. But first, it lists STAMPS as the main category. Underneath, there are subcategories that you would expect. I suggest using a stamp catalog to help you populate your own subcategories, but I’ve included things such as Photorealistic, Line Drawing, Solid in addition to the obvious Alphabets, Holiday, Nature, etc. If you cannot see the image clearly, feel free to e-mail me for a list. I also have Bin 1, Bin 2, etc. so that I could get a quick list of what is in a Bin, if I wanted to pack (and unpack) for a crop or retreat.
The best part, is that once categorized, you can get your full catalog into view quickly with a click or two. Want to see all Floral images? How about only the line drawings. Or are you into the mood to play with a solid image? It makes life grand!
Finally, I use the captioning mechanism to store the kind of details you might need if you intend to submit to a publication, or sell your stamps (I know, shocking idea!) at any time.
This stamp says, in its caption:
BG-15 Big Pompano Fred B. Mullett $21.50
And it is categorized under:
I hope that is clear. I have found this system invaluable. You can add categories at any time. Perhaps by manufacturer if you wanted, or a Loaner category for those you’ve lent out to a friend. It’s all good.
Do you have any organization ideas to share? Let me know and I’ll post them here.