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the challenge: scrapbook paper storage

Scrapbook organizing is always an issue, especially nowadays -- so many embellishments, tools, ribbons, just general options. It's very easy to get carried away with buying, and of course the more you have the more you need it organized so that you can actually USE it. (There are two yahoogroups I'm on that address these subjects: ScrappersChallenge is all about organizing and actually USING what you have, and ScrapFromYourStash is focused on using what you have and curbing the buying addiction, whether mild or serious. I recommend them both, though they generate a lot of email, so you might want to read them online or try the digest setting first.) The paper aspect is maybe the hardest, though -- 12x12 inches isn't something that fits with normal paper storage options, file cabinets, etc.

There are many more options than there used to be: custom cabinet systems (unfortunately usually prohibitively expensive, not too mention too bulky for somebody like me in an apartment, or without a room to devote. Some more accessible, popular options include a wire cube system you can buy and set up with lots of smaller shelves (used either horizontally or vertically), also the Sterilite drawers, often found at Walmart or other such places, that fit 12x12 paper in them. (I use that type of drawer for other embellishments, stickers, rubons, etc -- it'’s great because you can so easily just take out a drawer and set it next to you to look through.)

At first I had all my paper in my rolling tote, then later moved most of it into a cardboard box. However, accessibility was an issue, and then it also occurred to me that, gee, I've’ made the effort to get acid-free paper, and I'’m storing it in cardboard? Brilliant, self. So I decided I should look into some storage options, something not too bulky, something where I could actually get to the paper.

At the time (this was a year or more ago) I ended up getting the Cropper Hopper Class Tote. (Coupons, always coupons.) The name, though, is up there with Ridiculous Misnomers of the Week; I don't think you could actually tote it anywhere when it actually has paper in it. (I guess they make a cart that you can put it in and roll it around, which I suppose would make it more mobile, but whatever.) On the plus side, it is very sturdy, and has a lid. (You can now buy it at my local Michaels -- maybe yours too? COUPONS, BABY. Though not extra folders. Grumble, grumble.) Also, a big advantage (though I didn't realize it at the time): the folders (of which they include six) and of course the box that contains them are standard legal folder width, unlike some companies that have their own custom sizes. I kept my cardstock and my paper stacks in there; I also had two scrap-size accordian files for my patterned paper.

I definitely like hanging files: it has the advantage of vertical storage, but doesn't take up a bunch of table space. (Like these might -- I have one of these, but I use it for projects in progress. -I might add that these paper holders are VERY heavy duty plastic, unlike the folders, see below.) Also, if you don't have a lot of one category of paper, the hanging eliminates the problem of warping or bending. Easy to access too.

So now, I recently bought a rolling file cart like this, from Costco. (See photo below.) The nice thing about this cart is the wire, bottomless construction, and the option to use legal width folders. So the Cropper Hopper folders I already had would fit in it. It's handy that you can assemble this cart in various ways, leaving off a shelf if necessary, like I did so that it would roll under my table and out of the way.

You can, in fact, make your own folders for 12x12 paper, using legal size hanging folders (either 16 the way they list in that article, or else using additional regular legal folders, a full 24 sb-sized folders). However, the boxes of legal folders still aren't cheap (especially if you want pretty colored ones) and there's the acid free aspect as a consideration. Really, if you're using your paper quickly you'd probably be fine. However, since I didn't need that many folders right away I decided to just order some CH ones from Joann.com. (Though first I had to establish whether the "vinyl" folders they have on the site were a)vinyl --they're not: polypropylene-- and b)really the size they list there, which would be too small for both the CH tote and the cart I bought --they are in fact the standard legal width, not only 14" like the Joann.com site and the CH catalog both say.)

So yesterday I received the extra folders. They're not as heavy duty as I was expecting, as you can see.

I was thinking they'd be a bit more rigid, more like this regular plastic hanging folder.

On the other hand, the plastic rail it hangs by seems pretty sturdy, so it could possibly be good to have the lighter weight plastic, so as to allow more paper weight... maybe. I'm definitely only going to start with my patterned paper in them, though, since CS is so much heavier and I have a lot more of it. I'm kind of babbling now. Let's talk about how I organize my paper.

I have my paper sorted by color -- ROYGBIV (rainbow) order, with a few extra folders. First a paper hanging folder (the ones that initially came with the CH tote) with cardstock, then a plastic folder with the patterned paper of the same color. My categories are:

Theme/Seasonal (includes school, baby, party, Christmas, etc)

I also work my scrap system in here: I have legal size folders, made of clear plastic, that I slide into the front of each cardstock folder, and put all scraps of that color into (both CS and patterned paper). I look in the scrap folders first, before breaking into a full sheet of paper for mats, punches, etc. Behind all the regular categories I have a couple of regular hanging legal folders. At the moment I keep swap kits in one of them; we'll see if I need the extras later. (I may end up getting some more and keeping scraps in them, one in front of each category... we'll see.)

That is a wonderful article.
And I love your pictures which help you visualize what you are explaining.
thank you. Julie S

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