Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Color Coded Die Storage

Good morning, friends, and welcome to a brand new year! In the spirit of new beginnings and organization I thought I would share my recent die storage overhaul.

I looked around a few months ago and realized that I had a big ol' mess on my hands. I was using CD boxes with numbered tabs to keep everything in order, but I noticed that I was never putting the sleeves back in their allotted slots. The result was mountains of slippery die sleeves all over my workbench. I had also outgrown my original box, so the sleeves were getting all jumbled and I couldn't remember which number 31/32 went in which organizer.

ETA: The boxes I use are called Memorex File N Store boxes. I've had trouble finding them locally, so I stocked up from Office Depot the last time I outgrew a box. Any similar media storage would give you comparable organization options.

So I thought on it for a few days and finally came up with a solution...color coding! I've separated my dies into categories that make sense for me (ie: Tags, Basics, Food & Beverage, Flowers, etc.) and each category gets a colored strip of cardstock in place of the original numbers (the stock just slips under the plastic of the sleeve - no adhesive needed). This way, I can easily see where my sleeve should go and clean-up is no longer a struggle.

I hadn't quite gotten around to putting away some of my new dies yet, so I thought I'd share what filing new product looks like.

I start by deciding which category is the best fit. Then, I check to see whether or not there is spare room in one of the existing sleeves. If not, I pull a new sleeve as well as the coordinating colored paper strip.

I have several extra strips in a spare sleeve in the back of one of my boxes. I try to remember to replace the ones that I use often. That way, they're ready and waiting for the next new batch of dies.

Once the die is all snug in its sleeve and the paper strip is in place, I put the sleeve into the appropriate section, usually in the front (but I don't get overly fussy about that particular detail).

Here you can see several sections in one box. I have my dies split into three boxes right now, with a few extras on hand for the future (and when I say "few" I mean eight). Some of the colors look similar in these photos, but I've tried to make sure that all of the sections in a box are significantly different. For example, the "Animals" section is labeled with Winter Wisteria cardstock and is placed right next to the "Baby" section, labeled in Lemon Tart.

I don't tend to worry about keeping the individual sections organized in any particular way because each section is of a manageable enough size that it's no trouble keeping track of the dies. I also have filed the dies into the sections that most closely fit their most frequently used purpose. For example, the Candy Cane Christmas die collection is kept in the "Food & Beverage" section as opposed to the "Winter Holiday" section since I often use those dies for everyday projects. The whole idea is to make the system intuitive.

I also have sleeves already in place for series dies like the Boutique Borders and Wonderful Words dies. All I have to do for those is pop them in with the rest of the series. Keeping dies together like this has helped me save an incredible amount of space. I also like being able to find an entire series all at once.

I also have a box in a contrasting color (black instead of khaki) that houses my Cover Plates and other similar tools. I have them stored in sections with a sleeve between each.

In the back I store my Shape Up dies.

Next comes my Favor It Boxes and awkward dies that don't fit well in a sleeve. If I have any dies that don't fit in here (like the Front & Center dies) they get stored in a separate basket that lives next to these boxes on a shelf. The border dies are all on magnetic knife racks hanging on the side of my paper storage.

Then, I have my Impression Plates as well as my Embossing Pad Kit and Metal Shim (which aren't in the photo because I didn't realize they were on the table next to me when I took the picture).

In the front are my Cover Plates.

I hope this has helped shed a little light on another organizational method for keeping unruly dies in order. I'm particularly responsive to color and I've come to really appreciate the ease of my new system. Thanks for checking in today! Best of luck for a well organized 2014!

ETA: I've written an "All Questions Answered" post in case that's helpful to you. In it, I explain the whats and whys that came of this post.


TYJ419 said...

Nice. . . . .solution but what are the names of the box and sleeves you used?

Tracey J.

Betty said...

Lizzie, this looks like a very neat system. Will you please tell me where you got your sleeves and storage boxes?

Happy New Year!

Lizzie Jones said...

The boxes are called Memorex File N Store boxes. I purchased them from Office Depot online (there's now a direct link in the post), but a local store might have them, too.

Anonymous said...

These look perfect but wondered if sleeve come with box or do you buy separate?

DIANA L. said...

Happy new year Lizzie. Great post very helpful.

Hope Yoder said...

Did you purchase the bags separately? If so would you share the name, size and source? Great idea and thanks for the box link! Very helpful.

Deborah Frings said...

Looks like a really good system. Do you put the names of the company and die set anywhere? At the moment all my dies are in two boxes, in original packing and by company.

Deborah Frings said...

Also, the DVD hanging folders - where did you get them? Who makes them? Thanks!

Cindy O said...

Thanks for sharing, Lizzie! I just yesterday did some color coding with my dies. Similar idea but with a different storage system - I use ArtBin die cases with magnetic sheets. The sheets and cases are grouped by shape of die (leaves, ovals, banners, etc) and I put a green, blue, or red splotch on the magnetic sheet with Copic marker. It's interesting how we all adjust our storage to work with our creative processes.

jintyoo7 said...

Those little file boxes look perfect. Thank you for sharing :)

Becky H. said...

Nice idea. I too wonder where you found the sleeves. Thank You. Have a wonderful 2014 everyone.

Lizzie Jones said...

@Diane The sleeves came with the boxes. They're double sided, so I can fit plenty into each box.

Lizzie Jones said...

@Hope The sleeves came inside the box. No other source needed. Thanks for asking!

Lizzie Jones said...

@Deborah I don't have the names of anything anywhere so I can shuffle things around as need be. For example, I had the Limitless Layers Hearts in a pocket with the Limitless Layers Squares already, but this new box brought the Stitching Hearts dies. It makes sense for the two heart sets to be together, so I removed the Limitless Layers Squares and replaced them with the Stitching Hearts collection. The Squares then ended up in a fresh sleeve. If I had labeled everything, the switch wouldn't have been nearly as easy. Make sense?

All of my dies are currently from Papertrey, but I'm the type that would store everything together (I take that back, I have some Quickutz and Spellbinders basics [circles/ovals/etc.], but I keep those hanging on hooks at eye level for easy access). I'm all about making things as intuitive as possible. For me, keeping things separate would me I'd forget about a specific floral set or something. Keeping everything together means I can easily see all that I have.

Also, all of the boxes I use are the same dimensions and can be found at the link in the post above. The sleeves come with the boxes, so it's all nice and tidy. Thanks for your question!

Lizzie Jones said...

@Becky H. The sleeves conveniently came inside the boxes. Thanks for your question!

Elizabeth said...

Found a supply of the boxes on a really good sale at a Canadian Company called Mega Disc Store they have 2 packs of the boxes for $12.99 Canadian and even with shipping that comes out cheaper than buying 2 one box package
I am going to try this system, I've been struggling with how to keep the special smaller dies

Gina said...

I just love this idea . . . thanks for sharing! ;) How do you store your boxes that won't fit into those boxes???

Lizzie Jones said...

@Gina Thanks so much for your question! I store the large dies that don't fit in the boxes in an open basket that lives on the same shelf. The basket also houses my acrylic blocks, so it's handy to have around all the time. The border dies are on magnetic knife holders that hang on the side of my paper storage. Hope that helps!

Gina said...

Thanks Lizzie for your response! :)