Creating Solutions That Work … For YOUR Needs

Welcome back to a Make It Monday post. Life got a teensy bit crazy there and my ability to get a post out to you all last week just disappeared.

But that was then and this is now.

I’ve been repeating this to myself a whole lot these days. As life gets increasingly crazy and I spend a lot of it worrying and stressing about money, kids, money, meals, my health … did I say money? … it’s important to pause, take a breath, and remind myself that I can only go from where I am, not where I would like to be. Let this be a reminder to us all to do the same.

That off my chest, let’s get to today’s topic – finding solutions to problems that work for YOU.

As you may or may not know, I opened a craft store in July of 2021. I initially brought most of my paper crafting stash to the store thinking I’d get a whole lot of time to craft with it here. I had plans to film videos, do live demos, and more. Much of my stash was items I rarely used (like my 10 year old Stampin’ Up products) and those went directly into our Craft Lab – a section in our studio space that is available for anyone to use if they pay a drop-in fee. The rest went into a custom made desk we call the Demo Desk. The thought was that I could create projects there “live and in person” with new items we had for sale (and also make cards and other items to sell in the store).

It quicky became apparent that it was next to impossible to do all the things I wanted to do here. Juggling customers, poor WiFi, and all the day-to-day operational tasks of owning and running a business quickly ate into any creative time I thought I’d had. So I started taking things home. In fact, I started carting certain things back and forth as I’d need them at home to create cards and layouts, and I’d need them in the store to teach classes or for our Wednesday Drop-In nights.

Much of my stash is easily portable but one piece that was causing me difficulty was my Distress Oxide inks, and more specifically, the blending tops for each colour. Carting loose tops around in the same basket as my ink pads and handles meant everything was getting messy. I have also been wanting to make the transition to all domed tops and dedicating one to each colour. So I finally just bit the bullet and did it. Here’s a look at the finished product and then I’ll take you through the process.

As you saw, I’ve used a small album to keep all my blending heads contained. This is a 6×8″ album from Simple Stories that I’ve had on my shelf for years. (Once upon a time it was a planner.) You can use a similar album or buy any 3-ring binder from your local office supply store and adjust your insert sizes accordingly.

To start, I downloaded the Distress Oxide colour chart from Ranger so I could see how they’d arranged the colours. (On the page I linked are all sorts of label sheets including one with all the colours IN colour that you can print it off on sticker paper and attach to your ink pads. But I digress ..) I used this to create my labels by simply re-typing the colour names in a Word document, printing that off, cutting out each name and putting double-sided tape on the back.

Then I did some math to determine how large each colour swatch could be (1.75 x 2.5″ if you’re curious) and cut plain white card stock to that size. Then I just started inking!

To keep everything straight as I inked, I stacked my ink pads in colour order according to the chart from Ranger. Then I attached the ink name to each swatch once it was inked, and removed the blending top and placed it on top of the colour swatch. Once I’d inked a stack of ink pads, I transferred the whole lot of swatches and domed blenders to where my binder was located. I’d already cut pieces of thick black cardstock to fit my page inserts (6 x 8″) and had them lying out in a row waiting for the ink swatches.

It was easy to figure out spacing for pages like this one where I own almost all the colours (and actually, the store owns barn door so I ended up swatching that one and placing it in that gap on the bottom row after taking this photo). I’m a huge “eye-baller” when it comes to centering and making even margins but if that’s not how you roll, do some math and cut a couple pieces of scrap paper into strips the width you want. Use those strips as guides to get completely even margins.

When it came to pages where I did not own most of the colours on that page, I used leftover blank cardstock swatches as fillers to figure out proper placement. Oh, and a note on why I left those gaps – I do not intend to own every ink colour Ranger releases, but I figured it was better to leave space “just in case”. Also, Tim Holtz is always releasing new colours that may or may not fit into some of these gaps so I wanted an easy option to fit them in if the need arises.

Once all my colours were swatched and adhered, I slipped them into the plastic sleeves and went on to the next step – attaching the blender tops to the outside of the sleeve. I used velcro dots for this and with the pages of colour swatches in the sleeves, it was really easy to centre each dot on the swatch. (Note: you only need the hook side of the dots as the blender tops have the loops on them already.)

Lastly, I attached each coordinating blender top to the hook dots and the page was done.

The domed tops are quite thick so my album does not lay flat at all, but all I wanted was the ability to quickly grab all my blender tops, all my inks, and head off to the store, home, or a crop. I am so happy with this system now! And it gives me a weird sense of satisfaction to flip the pages and see all those gorgeous colours!

One last thought; you may be wondering how I plan to address the ink staining of the album and pages. Well, the short answer is, I don’t. LOL! All the ink applicators on every page except the first page, touch the back of a plastic sleeve. At worst, I can simply wipe those sleeves with a baby wipe to remove any ink build up. The first page does come in contact with the leather inside of the album cover so I decided to use scrap chipboard to protect that. This will get horribly inky and I’m totally okay with that. This is not an album that I’ll be showing off to people or that anyone other than me will be handling – and if they are, they are likely grabbing a blending head so a bit of ink won’t scare them off!

There you have it, a unique (I think) solution to a problem I was having. I’d love to hear how you’ve solved a unique-to-you problem, leave a comment here or on the video.

Thanks for visiting and I’ll see you next Monday for another project idea.

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