It was a great day in the crafting world when companies started coming out with clear acrylic stamps. While I have wood mounted rubber stamps, I don’t have a huge collection of them because they are big and bulky. Clear stamps have a flat profile and don’t take up so much room.
But that doesn’t mean I have found the best way to organize them. I’ve gone in several different directions in my quest to corral my ever growing collection. I loved the idea of keeping the small stamps in baseball card sized page protectors inside a 3-ring binder.
It’s a great system…if you actually fetch the book while you are creating. Mine tends to just sit on the shelf. Out of sight, out of mind is so true. I never got the book off the shelf.
And then companies expanded their offerings and stamp sets started coming in 6×7.5 sheets and 4×8 sheets, 4×6 sheets and even some 3×5 sheets. The only way to get these to conform to the baseball card slots was to cut them up or use larger sheet protectors. I started customizing page protectors to keep stamps in a book I never used. Kind of silly.
Then I tried something different.
I found these baskets at Michaels (years ago – I’m sure they still have something in the same size if not the same style) and they are just wide enough to fit the stamp sheets 4 inches wide and smaller. So I started adding new stamp sets to the basket.
This system was working for me. If a stamp got used, 99% of the time it was in this basket. The basket is out in the open and easy to flip through.
Now that I’m settling into my new space, I realized that if I was ever going to use all of my stamps, it would make sense if they were all organized the same way. So how do you take large sets and make them smaller and create larger collections of the single stamps?
Transparencies to the rescue!
I found this almost full box of transparencies as I was unpacking. The idea came to me that using transparencies, I could convert all of my clear stamps to a universal 4×6 size so they would fit in the baskets. Some of my sets would need to be broken up in order to utilize as much of the 4×6 area as possible, but I’m OK with that. If it means I’ll actually use my stamps, it’s worth it.
I’m cutting two 4×6 transparency sheets and attaching them at the top with a piece of packing tape. The top sheet does not cling to the stamps well, so the tape holds the sheet in place over the stamps so I can place it in the basket.
So far, I’m very happy. It does take some time to get all the stamps converted though. I will be working on this project for awhile. But it’s giving me the opportunity to go through all of my clear stamps and remember exactly what I have. The true test will come when I start getting my craft on again.
Just like any storage or organizational option, this may not be the solution for everyone. To be honest, I had to overcome a few of my own objections to get this far.
First, the backers in the stamp package include a printed image of the stamp. The stamp itself is clear so when you put it back on the printed backer, you’ll always know what that stamp is. I have two solutions for this:
- My personal solution is to stamp each stamp with black solvent ink (like Ranger’s Archival Ink or Tsukineko’s StayzOn Ink) and let it dry. The image is then visible through the transparency and the solvent ink acts to “season” the stamp. I heard this tip directly from Tim Holtz and I trust him on this. The solvent ink gives the stamp more “tooth” so that distress inks and chalk inks will deliver a crisper image. I do wipe off my stamps with a damp cloth to remove any ink recently stamped, but I do not wipe off the black solvent ink. It’s now a permanently on my stamps.
- If you cannot imagine having permanent ink “staining” your stamps so to speak, use the same solvent ink to stamp the image onto the custom transparency for a reference just like the original backer. The solvent ink will dry quickly and will not fade quickly. You can use stamp cleaners that will remove the solvent ink leaving you with a clear stamp.
Second, I had the thought that isn’t this kind of a waste? Why throw out perfectly good backers and use new transparencies? Eventually, I came around to this:
- If my stamps are in a book with their original backers and I’m not using them, they are not doing me any good. I’m not getting my money’s worth. They would be better stored in a way that I’ll actually use them. Plus, I’m using a box of transparencies that I’ve had for years, I didn’t buy new ones. The same results could be achieved with repurposed product packaging.
- I’m not throwing away the clear plastic backing from the stamps. Most of these clear stamps come with two backings, one with the image printed in black and a clear backing. The clear small backers are great to die cut with and to run through embossing folders. I have some ideas for using these that I’ll share in a future post.
I’m still thinking about my cling stamps. I’m not sure the transparency is strong enough for the heavier cling stamps. But maybe that’s where I can bring in the plastic product packaging. Once I get through the clear stamps, I’ll figure out the cling stamps.
So how do you store your clear stamps?
Thanks for stopping by today!