Friday, January 31, 2014

Trendy Chalkboard Style With Stampin' Up! Supplies

Ok, I admit it. I absolutely love the new chalkboard trend. I try to avoid trends for the most part, but this one I just can’t stay away from. I love the muted colors, the sketchy designs and how sharp photos and embellishments look against chalkboard backgrounds. Unfortunately, Stampin’ Up! doesn’t have a “true” chalkboard line, but they do have several items right now that fit in perfectly with the theme. First, let’s look at the items and then I will show off a mini album I made with the pieces.

Ok, I love the polaroid look and I love the camera and retro accessories on this one. I actually rank this set well over all the other polaroid dies that are available right now because this one is stylized with diagonial lines. It makes it pop out and look more stylish than the other dies on the market that look like they are simply layered squares. The stamps and sentiments have some retro flair, but they aren’t too retro which means they will still be usable once the retro trend passes.
Like the Peachy Keen set, this one has a bit of retro flair while being generally useful as well. The starburst framelits are perfect for layering and adding extra elements to any card or scrapbook page. The sayings are fun, but the framelits can stand on their own if you emboss or use patterned paper to make the shapes.

3.       Sweet Sobert Designer Paper
This paper is only available as a Sale-A-Bration reward- meaning you spend $50 on other items and you get the paper pack free. However, this set has perfect colors and patterns for matching other chalkboard products. It looks perfect with the We-R-Memory Keeper line and the Teresa Collins line. The colors and patterns are just perfect for using with blackboard backgrounds and accents. I hate to say it, but I would definitely spend $50 on other products to get my hands on some of this paper!

4.       Sweet Sorbet Accessory Pack
Unfortunately, this one is a Sale-A-Bration reward as well. But, it uses the same colors as the paper pack and it includes some mega-cute corkboard embellishments. I really wish Stampin’ Up! Had done a full line like this for the Occasions 2014 catalog! The twine is perfect for accenting chalkboard themed cards and pages, and I had a lot of fun using the corkboard designs.

This is the one from the annual calendar, not the one from Sale-A-Bration. This one provides the perfect texture for the color scheme we are working with. I like this one because it is nice, even dots and it gives a different texture to elements on the page or card.

Of the above, tangerine tango and Rich Razzleberry are the only colors that don’t have a subtle smooth hue to them. They are bolder, and I use them on accents to make them really stand out and pop. The combination is visually pleasing yet still interesting to look at.

By combining these products with black and other chalkboard lines, I was able to create the following photo album:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Secrets to Finding Cheap Craft Supplies

As you can tell from the pictures of my very messy craft area, I love to shop for craft supplies. I enjoy
browsing through the products available and thinking of all the great possibilities that could be made with the supplies. The only thing better than shopping for craft supplies, is finding them cheap.  The Chicago area offers lots of great stores that are available nationwide, so even if you live on the other side of the country, most of these secrets should apply for you too!

Cheap Supply Secret #1: Know Where to Shop
When people think of craft supplies, they typically think of the axis of evil: Joann’s, Michaels and Hobby Lobby. While these stores do specialize in craft supplies they are almost never the cheapest place to shop, even with sales and coupons. Instead, check out a store in the bargain trinity: Marshall’s (and their sister-store TJ Maxx), Ross and Tuesday Morning. Of those three, Tuesday Morning typically has the biggest craft section.
Cheap Supply Secret #2: Know What a Deal Is and Isn’t
The biggest offender in this category is Hobby Lobby. I have a real love/hate relationship with Hobby Lobby because of their clearance section. To me, clearance is synonymous with a deal and items that are now marked below what they previously sold for. Hobby Lobby is clearance bizarro-land. More often than not, the items on the clearance rack will cost MORE than the items still out at regular price when you factor in the weekly sales. So, the next time you bargain hunt on the clearance rack look at the sales price and make sure it’s more than 40% off the regular price for name brand items and more than 50% off the regular price for the house brands. If it’s not, then it’s NOT a deal!
Cheap Supply Secret #3: Timing Is Everything
All of the big craft stores have weekly deals and coupons. Once again, Hobby Lobby is the biggest offender here. Hobby Lobby typically cycles between 40-50% off a specific category of products each week. They typically have a 50% Paper Studio blow out at least once every six weeks. So, that super cute paper stack you have in your hands for $19.99 today will be $9.98 sometime in the next month in a half, with no restrictions on how many you can buy, like with the 40% off coupon. If you don’t need it today, wait for the sales cycle to hit that item.
Cheap Supply Secret #4: Everyone Buys Too Many Supplies
Contrary to what I tell my husband, I often buy supplies I don’t really *need*. You would be hard pressed to find a crafty woman who doesn’t do this. So, what do people do with those supplies that were a killer deal and looked fun at the time but are now creating a fire hazard and collecting mythic amounts of dust? The answer is yard sales, exchanges, and consignment sales. Google words like “craft consignment sale city” or “scrapbook resale” on Facebook. There are numerous secondhand sales all over the country and Facebook groups that offer virtual yard sales. You will be surprised at how cheaply you can buy supplies and how often the supplies that are for sale are brand new.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Organization Challenge Phase 1: Paper Mountain

Like so many other crafty and creative people, I fight a daily battle with getting and staying organzied. My latest challenge is to sort out all the bins of misc items in my craft room and get organized.

While Archivers going out of business makes me sad, I have been able to pick up some pretty sweet deals on tools and paper storage. I'm a very visual person and picked up two wire paper racks that I adore. Unfortunately, to make room for the racks I had to get rid of an entire cube shelf.

My problem areas tend to be paper and tool storage. I love paper and have alot of it, which makes storing it hard. As for tools, I like to have my tools easily accessible while working. Phase 1 of my project is organizing paper into the racks I got from Archiver's and finding a good spot for the 8.5x11 paper I have from stamping up.

Starting this project, my craft room looks like a couple monkeys had a wild party and paper fight. Here are a couple very messy photos of day one of my project:

Phase 2 will be tool storage and punch organization, so check back soon!