Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sneak Peak & my Top Ten "Buying info that I wish I'd knew when I started" list

A sneaky Halloweenie peaky.....

The suspense is probably killin' me more than it is you. I hafta wait 'til next week to show you what's been occupying me in the most fun way ever, and it's torture! Pure Halloweenie torture!

This list is for you Bunny! Thanks for your great request (I tried to email you but your blogger id is set up as noreply) :o)...

my Top Ten "Buying info that I wish I'd had when I started"
for the economy-oriented (or cheap like me)

#10: You don't need every stamp/supply that you see; (I'm a party-pooper right off the bat, hey?) What I mean to say is, you may find yourself experiencing buyer's remorse. I've learned the hard way, to browse my brains out (compare everywhere) and if I still LOVE something in a 'madly-going-out-of-my-mind-cause it's just so beautimous' kind of way after comparison shopping, then I buy it.

#9: Colour is completely worth it! Inks & reinkers are worth every penny; I have never regretted the freedom that having many colours in different types of inks (classic & craft, watermark, solvent, alcohol inks...etc...) has afforded me. I have regretted dozens upon dozens of stamps, but never colour. Markers are very versatile. You can even scribble on a plate and use a waterbrush to paint with them.

#8: Sell (or donate) things you don't use and then replenish your supplies for a fresh look without the guilt of over-buying.

#7: Tools rule! You can get a lot of mileage out of the right tools--lower cost tools like paper piercers, eyelet setters, hole and shape punches can be reinvented & never go out of style. (Stamp images often become dated.)

Five things I would never be without ever again and wish I had when I first started are:

1) My heat gun, embossing inks & Clear embossing powder. I emboss everything. To me it's pure magic. It adds that touchable texture, a bit of gloss & it makes water-colouring a cinch.

2) My Making Memories precision paper cutter. Can you say "No blade refills!?!" (That company ROCKs. I've never had better customer service! My lines wore off on it originally, and they sent me a brand new trimmer [since they'd fixed that design flaw.] No questions asked no shipping charge... WOWed me!] More info on it below in tip #6.)

3) My Scor-Pal, (which was the biggest RAK evah! Thank you Noreen you are an angel!!) It is heavenly!!! I can't believe I ever fussed around with anything else. 100+ ways to use a Scor-Pal here.

4) My Cuttlebug (or a Big Shot...) I love being able to emboss textures. I worried that I would find it limiting (there are only so many embossing folders out there) but there are SO many things you can do with that puppy!

5) Punches & Dye cuts:
  • PUNCHES: (especially simple shapes like circles & squares) are perfect ways to get more life out of less stamps/paper. You can make sentiments & embellishments easily & save a whack of cash.
  • DYE CUTS that make templates, shapes, or shaped mats. (especially Nestabilites (brass plate shapes that cut mat shapes) but you need a Cuttlebug)
Higher cost tools like Cricut or dye cut machines can be well worth it too, but....

#6: ...Search out and Read internet reviews of products (especially big ticket items such as a really good paper cutter.) After researching, buy the best you can afford instead of replacing items. I originally had a (poopy) Fiskar's rotary cutter that cut crookedly (ARRRRRGH!) and I spent a small fortune feeding that beastly beast with fresh blades....But then I found this review on the Making Memories precision paper cutter. I absolutely LOVE it & it's paid for itself by having a self-sharpening blade. (One thing to note about the M.M. cutter is that you visually line up the paper on the grid, you don't butt it against the edge--makes a big difference. It's a little tricky to cut super skinny pieces with.)

#5: If you have a problem, there's probably a way to fix it or someone to help. You can post questions in forums (splitcoaststampers!) or email people about things. Everyone I've 'met' in the online stamping community is happy to help & there are some bloomin' brilliant (and sweet) crafters out there. Getting advice can certainly save you money & time.

One biggy in the advice department, for instance: If you don't like the way a stamp is registering you do not have to live with it! If it's not fully stamping or if it's an acrylic stamp & it's not taking the ink, there are ways to fix that. For rubber (and I use these same 'seasoning techniques' for certain acrylic stamps that won't take my SU inks): stamp conditioning. More about caring for acrylic stamps.

#4: Watch for sales, wait for sales, and use coupons or take advantage of free shipping. Get on email lists for local stores and or your favourite online companies. Keep an "I have to have it" list and wait for sales. Use coupons to stock up on items you use a lot (like those Michael's coupons for 50% off to stock up on clear embossing powder, or whatever you use a lot of and they have at a good price.) Split the cost of products or shipping with a friend & swap supplies.

#3: Buy patterned paper/embellishments strategically. Pattern paper/designer paper, ribbon etc... can take your projects to the next level, but it can be costly and you can get tired of it quickly! For you online shoppers: To be sure that you'll actually like paper shop in person when you can. You may want to avoid overstocking on one type/colour family of paper (trust me, I have 100's of dollars of designer paper I may never use.) A good way to avoid typecasting your papers or supplies is to shop in smaller batches. You'll be sure to be in different moods and you'll probably find that your tastes change.

#2: Repeat after me: "Expensive adhesive is for chumps!" lol ;0) But seriously, not mentioning any names: (I don't like SNAIL!!) There are affordable high-quality adhesives to be found. I used to use just glue dots, because I found snail didn't stay stuck and was pricey to boot. For a while I was using only glue dots (not cheap & sometimes bumpy.) I switched to double-sided tape at $1.oo a roll from dollar stores (acid free even!) :O)

Your adhesive may be falling off of your projects after you've sent them off into the wide world. I know, GASP! It's well worth tracking down a great affordable adhesive and keeping a project around for a while to test if things are staying put. Things to look for: acid & lignin free (dollar store stuff often is now.) Many people LOVE their ATG gun. Me wanty!

and the # 1 thing I wish I'd known: Overspending/buying stuff you regret is all about mood-Can you say impulse? To avoid over-spending while you are in an online shopping mood postpone your buying by one of these methods....

Copy your shopping cart lists (control C to copy & control V to paste into a word document.) Or keep a document with a list (or a file with images) on your computer desktop (you can save stamp images with the company & stamp name in the file name.) Leave the list for 1 or 2 weeks (or even a couple of days.) When you go back to it, if you still love the items, you are less likely to experience buyer's remorse (or what I like to call the "Geeeze! Why didn't I buy THAT instead???" syndrome.)

Hope my rambling was helpful; I'm still learning and I would love to learn from your tips & hear all about your favourite schtuff! :o)

P.S. Stamping 101 Some Basics


Paula's ponderings said...

Wow Mel, thats a fabulous guide! I wish Id seen it like ummmm 4 years ago, and then I wouldnt have had to move out of my house....lol. A great introduction to that book you are going to write one day....sooooooooonn.......lol. My favourite crafting cant live without item is my puter...its my rock (next to hubby) and my right arm (next to hubby) , my friends live there and there is so much info and tips and goodness...love it (and then theres my craft haven...and really really sharp pointy scissors and craft knife)

Paula's ponderings said...

oh and mustnt forget my printer...phew!! Cant leave that one out...it might get jeaalous!

Maria said...

Hey Mel!! I love your list of buying info. I agree with all the stuff you wrote!

Although I tend to buy A LOT!! I mean, everything and anything. . .I do have a strategy most of the time. LOL!! I RARELY, if ever, get rid of any color medium. . .it never goes out of style and I love to experiment so it's fun to mix things up and see what I end up with.

When I walk the aisle in a craft store, I'll visit different sections of the store to help inspire me, i.e., sewing section, art section, beads section, etc. There's so many fun stuff to find that are different from the typical paper craft products but still look great for paper crafting.

Here's a tip that I've found useful. . .buy buttons from the sewing section rather than the scrapbooking section. . .the cost is nearly half the price for the same buttons.

Buy charms from the beading section, they are much cheaper and there's more variety than the scrapbook section. Buy rhinestones at the beading section as well. Forget scrapbook rhinestones, they are ridiculously expensive.

Mix color mediums if you don't have the color or shade from one medium, i.e., water down acrylic paints and mix the colors to create a new color or mix with re-inkers to create a different shade or color. Mix jacquard inks with reinkers or acrylic for a shimmery effect. Copic markers with watercoloring for shading, markers with pastels, etc., etc.

Don't forget the office supply store for clips, envelopes, and other potential crafting materials. I find cool clips, coin envelopes (great for projects espeically mini albums), various size of envelopes, transfer tapes (similar to scrapbooking tapes). . .if you look around, you may find something that you can use to create something crafty.

Garage saies! Crafters sell their stuff cheap. . .they just want to get rid of their things and I always find NEW and AWESOME stuff at seriously low prices. Great place to find stuff to alter. Forget new stuff to alter. . .why alter something that is new?

Gosh, I can go on forever. . .sorry, for the long post. . .I'm so passionate about this subject. LOL!


Robbie said...

Thanks for the tips! I must say, 'I agree with you.' Sometimes I think my little room is shrinking more and more but then I find that I have most of what I need and have basically made good choices. Of course, there are those stamps I wished I hadn't bought because I probably wouldn't use it more than a couple of times. Now, let's see ... would I have bought that card for $20?? Don't think so!!

Scor-Pal is not in my stash and this is one thing I have been 'waiting' to see if I can do without. (You know, this tip is in your top 5.) Two things: cost (just to make a line) and space. But I keep seeing such good things about it so I may have to pull some $$ out of my pocket and get it.

Another item I'm considering are Nestabilities. Do I really 'need' some or not?? I think I do and am waiting for the 'mood' to change. So far, it hasn't. So now, I'm just trying to decide which set to begin with ... hmmmm, let's see.

I, also, love my computer!! Though it's not really what you would consider a tool, I don't think I can live without it. SCS is a phenomenal resource of craft projects, designs, and friends! I can't live a day without it. Really ... if I am out of pocket for a couple of days, I will go back for the entire time we've been gone and start cruising the pages I've missed - even before I check my e-mail!! I can't live without it! People I've never met have become my friends (and they don't even know it actually). I have cruised SCS for a long time but have not engaged in a challenge (kinda shy about that with soooo many good designers out there), but I'm gaining confidence.

Thanks for your 'Top 10' list. I must say, you used wisdom in making it. TFS

Have a blessed day,

Margaret McDonald said...

did I hear rumours of a book??!!!
If you are like me you may just have to write it to get it out of your brain.

Heather D. ~ Fresh Brewed Designs said...

that list was awesome!!! Thanks for the tips and advice. I am starting to hate my fiscars .. IT DIES CUT SLANTED!!! And the score pal always has my intrest. As well as adhesive! I am OUT!!! have been for a few days. Horrible, I know. I need to gets me some and could not decide on what. Anywho. thanks a bunch. Wise words to live by. I may have to print this and hang it on my fridge :o)

Linda Stamps said...

Thanks for the tips. You've got me thinking Making Memories paper cutter...I have a Fiskars and it's 'ok' but not great. I'm due for a blade change something fierce.

Etha said...

Oh I love your sneak, how did you DO that?!! Can't wait to see!
your list:
get an ATG gun, get over it that its huge, and never look back ;) get the 12 pack refill as well.... lasts me about a year.
I must say I enjoy compulsive indulging shopping. I don't shop often and I pretty much hate stores/malls (shudder), I don't really spend money on anythng but..
Compulsive shopping (like, I need one of each) satisfies me to no comparison. Then, other times, I can wait two years to get "an item" that I've been looking at to finally shell out x amount of money and buy it in a flash! That may seem compulsive, but really I've been pondering it for a long time.
Ditto on inks! Love colors and love all sorts of different inks!

Pat S. said...

Hi Mel!
Great list...thanks for sharing!

I totally agree about the adhesive...double-sided tape is the answer for me, too!

retiredheather said...

this is really great Mel. I wish I had read this long, long ago. I will add that nestabilities are fantastic. They add finish to your work. I would also promote plain paper that you can stamp on to create your own designer paper. Its fun and uses those stamps.

K Hutchinson said...

Mel I totally agree with your list! I HEART my ATG gun! I could not be with out that either!

Katherine said...

I have be doing the same thing with the online shopping carts for a couple of months - I look through and add the things I like to the cart, copy the cart to an AppleWorks doc and then let it sit and stew. IF, when I go back to the doc a week or so later, I still want something on the list, I will create a new list and search it out. Usually I end up deleting the whole list and forgetting about it. It has really been a money saver!

Thanks for sharing all of this with us! Now, I'm off to check out that MM cutter!! (Sick of my wobbly trimmer and it's refills!)


Unknown said...

OMG! Mel, thank you so much! You will never know how grateful I am for todays post! Fixing to print it out! LOL...

I'll be back off and on today to, I see a few of my other favorite bloggers have left some tips in their comments, maybe more will!

Thank you SOOO much!

I have bought a few things here and there. Mostly just clearance items at WalMart and BigLots. We don't have a craft store here, its an hours drive. So I read all these great blogs and make out lists for the next time we take a day trip.

What are the best kinds of inks to get? And whats the difference in them? So far I have BLACK DYE INK. It smears pretty bad when trying to color it. YUCK.

I'll try to fix my email thing in my profile. But until then my email is bunny [at] bunnycates.com

I could type forever, lol.

THANKS SO MUCH for this post! YOU are my hero!

Primitive Seasons said...

Mel where were you about 2 years ago when I got in this craziness!!! Great list and I know it will be help to others!


Eve said...

Thanks for all the great ideas and reminders!
Here is the adhesive I use and LOVE. The brand also makes a glue tape runner which is awesome too! Best part is the price....

Annapurna said...

Your build up is killing me too. I wanna see the whole thing right now...
Cheap? You?

Great list. Now only if this will stay on top forever for every new crafter to see it, right?

I think you meant to say Die cuts. Although you can dye your die cuts and they might turn into dye cuts. LOL! I crack myself up.

Nope, still not sold on Scor-pal and ATG gun. Deb told me the disadvantages of the ATG and any tool that serves only one purpose does not have room in my dining/craft room.

Off to go take pics to sell the stamps that I don't plan on using, since they have not been cut after more than a month. Yikes to cutting.

I have been sitting on a filled cart for more than a month now. I have been good so far, but all it needs is a weak moment.

evafromca said...

Mel, this was so great! I do so many of those things as well. Even when I am at a store, I walk around with my picked items in my cart and at the end, before I check out, I think about it again, DO I REALLY NEED THIS? And now you make me want the MM trimmer, so I know what I will be buying next time I need to replace my trimmer. And oh...do I ever love my Cutterbug!!! Yeppp.....Anyway, thanks for your list, I love it!

Deb Neerman said...

"Hope my rambling was helpful"

O, Mel-a-Licious, I'd rather read 80 pages of your "ramblings" than almost anything else!! You funny rady!!

Thanks for all the kewl tips and links ... you generous rady!

And oh, boy, do I ever agree with your DP tips. I have 500-600 sheets of DP I'll most likely never use. But oh, my, no, I can't give it away, I'm "savin'" it ... me crazy rady!

Later Dudette! Oh. And please feel free to share your Halloweenie secret with me. It must be killin' you to keep it to yourself and I just wanna be helpful. You know. Give back. And, I won't tell ANYONE ... well, cept maybe Anna ... but SHE won't tell anyone either ... cept maybe Theresa ...

BOO! to you too!

Michelle B. AKA JustPaintingAround said...

I don't often feel the compelled to write a comment on someone's blog but this Top 10 list was brilliant! Now, if I only had it a year ago when I started stamping..... Oh well, good luck to the new stampers who can start with this and it will help the rest of us move forward. Thank you!

Julie S. said...

Love this post and the conversation it generates. We do tend to buy a lot. Tools are one of the best bet -- my scor pal is wonderful, but I use it interchangeably with a fiskars cutter... I think that getting a scor mat will help that a lot ;^)* That is a tool that is on my list, for sure.

I love my ATG gun, and recently got a second one so I can have two sizes around without switching out.

I want to point out that I use my ATG all over the place -- I reseal envelopes and boxes with the sucker! (ever open a DVD you meant to return unopened, by mistake?)

I use it on kid art and in wrapping gifts, even. I make "stickers" out of everything ;^)* It is truly a household tool in my home!

Another thing I love to do is ask for/offer images -- that way I don't have to own every stamp out there! Sharing stamps is a great thing, and it CAN be done through the mail... sure, it isn't always the way to go (you can't always do what you want with the image) but it does work on occasion!

Thanks so much -- your blog is a MUST read. It is the most USEFUL thing on the internet, for me!

Janine said...

Mel you just amaze me... I agree with all that you said.. Especially the adhesive comment.
I used Tombow metal glue for just about everything.
And my teflon sharp as can be scissors.

Anonymous said...

Really, when you are first starting out you don't need the most expensive of everything. Just decide what part of papercrafting you want most to do and start getting tools for that first. I have found paper, ribbon, and chipboard items in $Tree, and nice ribbons, and chipboard alphabets at Target $1 Spot. Just check in those places whenever you are in the area and you would be surprised what you can find. Then as you see what you love to do and what tools you need most, you can start to build your collection. There is a site called Craft Critique that has critiques of lots of items, to help you decide what brands are best for you.

Thanks, Mel, for all your great ideas.


Anonymous said...

And one thing I totally forgot to mention: look under Cheap Tricks on Mel's site to find lots of clever ways to do things without the expensive gadgets. She has some amazing ideas!


Mary Dawn said...

i should say this more often, but your blog is something ever paper crafter needs, each post is massively full of excellent information, i really appreciate the time you put into your posts, i've learned so so much from you!

Crystals Cards said...

great list
i love my atg gun, my cuttlebug, my scor pal and my nestabilites

Scrappin Cheryl said...

Wow! What a great list - I loved it all and the link to the Cuttlebug tips was pure genius! I am new to your blog, but you have become my hands down favorite - love your work and links! You ROCK!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on almost all of them.... I wish for nr 3 too, my friend got a scor pal and she's in 7th heaven with it,, its on my wish list too. i just love stamping and sometimes i just get out one of the "old" stamps and surprise myself with a brand new card. love your blog,,,
Susan Nel
South Africa

Mari said...

Sure do love your blog, Mel! I think you've hit several important points on the head.... Only one that I'd add: Stamp A Ma Jig! I could not possibly live without it! Thanks for all your inspiration (I'm still doing stuff with gesso!).

Tejal said...

You have got the right post at the right time. I'm shamelessly asking my in-laws for crafting stuff as wedding gifts..can I be cheaper than that?? ;)

Oh well since they stay in CA and I stay in India, it makes sense for me to ask for stuff..the problem is what is absolutely necessary..I had been debating for almost a month and I think I've narrowed it down to embossing gun, inks and powders.

Now I need help on what kinds and where would be the best to get from??

Maybe next anniversary, I'll ask for a Cuttlebug..(if I'm really nice and don't kill their son with my cooking!!) (LOL!!)
Love your posts girl...

I think all these comments should be combined into another post in itself..so much of ideas and tips..

Hugs to you.

Michelle Pearson said...

everything you said is spot-on. I totally agree and find it's learn as you go.....but this is fab advice!

Joani McDonald said...

Oh, I so wish I had this list years ago. I'd be rich :)
I think there should be a book in your future. I'd buy it! Then I'd say "I knew her when...."
{{BIG}}Hugs to you!

Beth Norman-Roberts said...

Okay, STOP IT ALREADY; you're killing me with this sneak peak--running into two posts now. SO NOT FAIR! I am going to repay by doing one right back--LOL :) Your post was very informative, thank you. I went and read the write up about the paper cutter; I need an industrial type one now, and this really seems like the ticket. I have never heard of this cutter before, and of course you sold me on it. Guess what? I HAVE the ATG gun. Bought it two months ago and wonder how I ever did without it. The edges of cards are professionally finished now. No spaces from the sticky tabs. Once again, thanks for the great post.

Sue said...

I love the coffin boxes, but the pattern will not come up for me could you please send me the pattern at csuecovey@aol.com. Thanks so much for your help.

Sue said...

I just love your coffin boxes. I cannot get the pattern to come up on SCS. Could you please email me the pattern to funstampin2003@yahoo.com
THank you. Sue

Tonniece said...

Wow , what a list of great info, and might I add that all the commenters lists are super great also.

Tiff said...

I just bought the precision cutter by making memories that you raved about!!!! I LOVE IT!!!! I don't have to fight with it or hold it just so to get a straight cut!!! Thanks for posting about it :) Your my paper hero...

Lyn S said...

Thank you so much for posting about the problem you had with your Making Memories Paper Trimmer's grid lines fading away! I had the same problem, but didn't think about it being a design flaw. Anyways, I emailed the company, but as I live in Australia I wasn't going to hold my breath that they would replace it................BUT!!! Guess what?? I received a new one today!!! I thought that if the company replaced it at all, they would send it by the cheapest mailing rate.....but no, wrong again, it only took 3 weeks from the time I emailed and it was sent with Fed-Ex!

Needless to say I'm just ecstatic with the service provided with Making Memories products........and thanks Mel for alerting me to this problem.

ps. I've heard some people say that the blade goes blunt, but I find that it can get a bit furred up with paper lint after a lot of use, so I just remove the blade (it comes apart easily) and give it a bit of a clean with a stiff paint brush, and I also clean the cutting groove - the blade glides a lot more smoothly after a clean.