Monday, May 26, 2014

Stamping Lightly- Letting In and Letting Go

Hello friends,

Friday evening I took a deep breath and started to implement the changes I am planning for this blog, my little corner of the internet.  I updated the design to something that is both simple and graphic, and I changed the name of the blog from "Our Charmed Life" to "Stamping Lightly."  Due to the blog template settings, technically, the blog name is showing up as "stamping" and the tagline is "lightly." I am not going to worry about it. Less is more, right?

So what does "stamping lightly" actually mean anyway? As I shared last week in my Stamp Out Chaos post, I have been doing some reading on the minimalist movement and one of the authors spoke about traveling lightly.  Beyond the benefit of not having to check your luggage on vacation, light travel speaks to life being a journey which can be enjoyed better and more fully if we only carry with us the barest of essentials.

After 13 years of paper crafting, I have managed to acquire a lot of stuff. As I sit in a 10 x 11 room that my girls refer to as the "scrapbook store," I sometimes wonder how I got here.  When I first started scrapbooking, all of my supplies fit in a single shoulder tote.  And you know what, I never had more fun doing a hobby.  I was hooked. It was simple and I didn't agonize over every decision.  Now I don't necessarily want to return to the land of colorful cardstock triangles in opposite corners of my pages or trimming all my photos into ovals, but sometimes I long to recapture that simpler time.

For me, it's not fun to be overwhelmed by things or having more supplies than working space. "Stamping Lightly" is about this journey to return to a voluntary level of simplicity and keeping only things that will help my creativity soar and not weigh me down.

I think as a community, paper crafters love to organize and reorganize our stashes of crafty supplies. They are pretty and oh, so inspiring, but I have come to realize that there is more joy to be found in owning less than in organizing more.  I have a lot to say on this topic, so I will break it into two parts- Letting In and Letting Go.

Letting go (Purging)
A few weeks ago, I painted my craft space and in order for me to access the walls, a lot of stuff had to come out and found a temporary home in our bedroom (Jason is the most patient hubby in the world!) and the hallway (yep, just like hoarders... #winning).  The act of emptying the space (mostly) was an absolute game changer for me and my space. What I found was that once the room was emptied and quieted, I was reluctant to let stuff back in.

Some items were 'no brainers' to allow back in, like my die cut machine, computer and photos, but other items were put through a discernment process where I asked the item and myself the following questions: 
  • What purpose do you serve?
  • Have I used you?
  • Do I have plans to use you?
  • Do I have some place to put you?  This is important- without a home- stuff, even useful stuff can become clutter. 
  • Are you still "me?"  Styles and preferences change over time.  If there is a supply that is no longer you- think about letting it go or at least pairing it down.  I did this with my ribbon stash recently and will share pictures in an upcoming post.  
  • Do I have anything like you?  One of the minimalist principals that I am trying to adopt in my life is embracing the power of 1.  For example, do I really need 3 pairs of Crocs or will 1 pair suffice? Same could go for crafty supplies, if two stamp sets are similar or serve a similar purpose- what is the need for keeping both?   For me, baby and wedding sets come to mind.  If you can't find a unique purpose for an item, maybe it's time to let it go.

Where does it go?
Once you decide to let items go, the question become- what do I do with all of it?  There are two options here- Sell or Give away. To help you decide, I love this decision chart from The Handmade Home

I think you can also use Crafty Message Boards/Facebook resale groups in addition to Craigslist/Ebay. I also factor in the ease and price of shipping in making my decisions.   Stamps and dies- easy to ship- I am more likely to sell. Paper and bulky embellishments- not so much- these wind up in the donate pile. 

As I am evaluating my stash, I have a box of items that I plan to list for sale on Facebook and Message Boards and an even bigger box of items to donate.  I am giving my donations to Sophie's Kindergarten teacher who in turn shares with the elementary school staff.  If you don't have kids in school, you can always call a local school to inquire about donating craft supplies.  Preschools, daycares, and even children's hospitals and nursing homes are also great places to share your crafty stash.  

I am also setting a time limit on my sale items.  If they don't sell after a certain amount of time, I will give them away.  Before Archivers closed this February, I attended the store's last crop and brought with me a huge bag of craft supplies and stamp sets in need of a new home.  I placed the items on the back counter and let my fellow crafters know that these items were up for grabs.  Not a single item was left and it felt great to make others happy by sharing my excess. 

Now that we have talked about letting our items go, how do we handle new items? 

Letting in
Let's face it, part of the fun of our creative hobby is purchasing the latest and greatest stamps, dies, paper, and embellishments.  New purchases can jump-start creativity and allow you to experiment with new trends and techniques.  Brilliant designers and manufacturers seemingly create a new round of must-haves on a monthly basis.

Consumerism is not the issue; all of our purchases keep our little paper crafting community growing and thriving. The problem is when it becomes excessive.  Excessive is when is extends past what will be useful (used) and necessary (needed). Sure there is the initial joy of opening a package of happy mail or getting a delivery from UPS, but that happiness is fleeting and can be replaced by guilt and frustration.  Guilt at having spent money on something that is not being used and frustration at having even more to sift through while trying to create.

I have come to realize that I don't have enough time to use and love every stamp set, paper and die that I fancy.  As a result, I need to pay close attention to what I chose to purchase and invite into my space.  I need to be good gatekeeper. Before making a purchase, I am asking myself these questions.

  • Do I have stamps that have not seen action?  I have started keeping my new purchases in a basket on my workspace as reminder to use them before I incorporate them into my stamp organization system.  Currently this basket is full and it's a good visual reminder that I still have sets that are unused.  Unused supplies are like wasted money.  While you may be able to sell them and get back some of the money, it's never the full amount you paid.  Before acquiring more, I need to use what I have.   
  • Do I have anything like this?  I spent some time this weekend organizing my dies and came to realize that I have 15 "hello" dies.  Granted, many of these dies came as part of a larger sets, but for someone who doesn't really send THAT many "hello" cards, it seems a bit excessive.  Now a set of 15 "sorry I flaked out and bought a card for your major life event" or "happy belated birthday" dies, I could justify that.  :) 
  • Can I think of 3 unique ways to use this product? Versatile products are going to get the most usage in a streamlined environment, so before purchasing try to think about three designs for the item.  They don't have to be designs that you dreamed up- casing another crafter or a design team  member is perfectly acceptable, but the designs have to be do-able for you. 
  • Is this a wise investment?  Let's talk about a $15.00 stamp set.  With the going price of greeting cards at the store running around $2.99,  are you willing to make 5 or more cards with this set to recoup the price of the set?  
  • Will I still love you tomorrow?  More than once, I have purchase supplies for no other reason that everyone else was really excited about them.  In these situations, I need to step away from the computer (that's were the enablers live-LOL) and examine my reasons for wanting something.  Is this a long term interest or a passing fancy?  One guideline I am trying to adopt is that when feasible, I am trying to wait 30 days before clicking purchase so that I can be more certain that my acquisitions will suit me.  More often than not, the initial "want" has waned and I am able to apply more logic to my purchase plans.  
  • What am I willing purge to acquire you? Once your stash is at a manageable level, many organizational experts ask their clients to adopt the one in, one out principle.  When you acquire a new stamp set or paper pad, one should leave. 
My journey is continuing, but I can already see tremendous progress and it motivates me to keep going. I can visualize my completed space, and it's one that will be a joy to use.

I know there have been lots of words in this post and no pretty crafty projects (what?!), so thanks for hanging in there.  Before I go, I wanted to share with you a few sites that are offer fantastic inspiring reads on minimalism and letting go of excess. 


  1. Hi Katie, this was such a good post. Thank you! I have become very selective about what I purchase. Now I need to begin the letting go process. Thanks for helping me make the decision to begin!

  2. Thanks for this great post! Hoping to do some purging in my craft room and otherwise this summer and this is a great motivator.

  3. What a great post, Katie! I'm inspired to do some purging. I'll also be traveling this fall and will aim to "travel lightly"!

  4. I need this post! I'm not sure I'll go into this purging without crying and screaming but I want the end result.

  5. I can't tell you how much I needed this article. I've been struggling with the "too much stuff, too little time" syndrome for a while. I did the same years ago with my sewing addiction.Working full time is also a hindrance. I tend to shop online more or go craft shopping on my lunch hours. I have been purging when I can & trying to limit the purchases. Thank you so much for the helpful tips & websites. Good Luck!

  6. What a great post. I could do with putting a lot of what you mention here into action. Most likely the purging! I know someone who does not purchase unless they have 5 uses - I think I should pin that to my computer (where I tend to do most of my shopping). Best of luck maintaining this and not letting in more. Thank you.

  7. So glad you published this post...I am struggling with the same idea of trying to make my life simpler not only with my crafting supplies but also with the "stuff" my three kids accumulate over the years. Thank you very much...I really enjoyed reading it!


Your thoughts mean so much to me. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know you stopped by!