By Christina VanGinkel
How many times have you reached for an inkpad that you paid top dollar for and have only used once or twice to find it dry as a bone? Or opened up a bottle or applicator of glue and you cannot believe it feels empty, because you know you just bought it? Not to mention embellishments and paper that go out of style before you even reach the bottom of the pack, sometimes before you even open them.
For this last issue, one of the best pieces of advice I ever received when it comes to buying craft supplies in general, is to ask yourself is you are buying something because you have a use for it, really like it, or just because it is the newest craze? Scrappers can be a very social group of crafters, and it is easy to fall prey to the buy factor of those around you. Do not buy a whole line of papers or even a single sheet, because someone else likes it. Buy a whole line or that single sheet because you like it, or you know it will complement such and such a picture perfectly. The same holds true for tools. Die cutting machines for example are an expense that some scrappers and crafters qualify by the sheer volume of projects they create. If you are a casual scrapper, and have a tight budget, if you end up creating one or two titles a year with such a machine, consider how expensive each of those would be if you considered in the cost of the machine and dies before plunking down that cash just because everyone else you know has one.
I also cannot tell you how many times I have been tempted to buy a whole pack of paper because I liked one of the patterns in it. Single sheets of paper may cost more than paper by the pack, but unless you are going to use the majority of the sheets in a pack, consider how much the sheets you do use will cost you if you break them down by the overall cost. For example, if you pay ten dollars for a pack of twenty-five sheets of 12 x 12 patterned papers, the overall cost equals 40 cents a sheet. However, if you only ultimately use ten sheets of that paper, that 40 cents a sheet skyrockets to one dollar a sheet if you break the cost down to only those sheets of paper you used. Sure, you could trade those unused sheets with a friend or at a crop, or even sell them on a site such as Ebay, but the average scrapbook devotee or crafter will most likely leave those fifteen sheets of unused paper in a stack in their craft room, never doing anything with them. Some extra paper is nice, but pack after pack is just a waste, both in money spent and space used to store it.
I also combat the wasted paper syndrome by buying in bulk with at least one other person. In my case, this is usually with my daughter. We will split evenly whatever it is we buy that comes in a size package that is more than one of us will use. This applies to packs of paper and embellishments. We also share several tools this way, including a Wishblade die cutting machine. We split the cost, and just swap the tools back and forth as needed. This should only be done with somebody that you know it will not cause more issues with than good though.
Inkpads can be dry from the minute you open them. Because of this, buy from local dealers or stores, or from a company that backs their inkpads with a warranty, such as the one offered by the Stampin' Up Company. They offer a guarantee that their products will be free from manufacturing defects for a period of 90 days after the shipping date. If you are shopping out of town, open any inkpads you purchase before heading home. If there is a problem with them, return them immediately. Once you get your inkpads home, storing them upside down will help keep the ink at the top of the pad. I also keep mine in a Ziploc style bag to keep them as airtight as possible, which helps keep them from drying out prematurely.
I have not found a tried and true solution to applicators of craft glue drying out other than I also store them in Ziploc style bags. Make sure that covers are on tight. Pen style applicators often come with caps that need to be twisted on and if you just snap the lid on without taking the time to twist them shut as the caps were intended, this too will lead to prematurely drying out.