Have you ever needed just a small piece of paper for a craft, which you knew you had somewhere in your scrap pile, but looking for it was too overwhelming or would take too long? As my scrap pile got larger, looking for the right scrap got harder and harder. I knew it was time to create effective Paper Scrap Storage.
You guys have heard me say many times that I save almost everything. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but reduce, reuse, recycle is truly a great craft motto. There are many wonderful things that can be done with scrap paper.
But, in order to use scrap paper for projects, we have to be able to find what we need, when we need it. It’s so irritating to have to dig through a giant pile of paper when you’re just looking for a small piece of yellow for a beak, or a little bit of brown for some chest feathers (if you happen to be crafting an owl, for example.)
Okay, let’s be honest. This is a pretty picture of some of my scrap paper. I had been storing it in a pretty polka dot open-top box. The box was pretty, but inside it was a giant messy pile that I couldn’t even bring myself to look through sometimes.
I knew there was plenty of useful stuff in there, but the mess often led me to use a brand-new sheet for a small cut, and then guess where it ended up? In the scrap pile, thereby making my problem worse.
I tried sorting by size with the bigger pieces on the bottom. But that didn’t really help because the giant pile was still there.
KonMari Your Paper
I happen to be a big Marie Kondo fan. And her philosophy is vertical storage. Piles are overwhelming. They invite more piles, which means more clutter and mess (ask me how I know.)
Piles also make the things on bottom invisible. When I did use scrap paper, I never used the paper at the bottom. I always started at the top and typically found what I needed less than halfway through (or gave up.)
When things are upright, you can see them better, which makes them easier to use. They also look prettier and more organized, which also makes them easier to use. Are you noticing a theme? And, the best benefit (in my opinion) is that when someone else (Read: children) want to use things in your craft space, they can without wreaking havoc… well, with minimal havoc.
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Paper Scrap Storage Supplies
In keeping with the KonMari vertical storage idea, I bought a file organizer. This also meant I needed file folders. Manila folders would work, but ideally, I wanted to find various colors so that I could color code my paper scraps. (I’m a visual person.)
There are file folders with more colors, but I didn’t want to spend too much money. This gave me enough for this project and for my Vinyl Scraps Organizer without breaking the bank. I used manila folders for the rest of my scrap colors.
Before you buy your supplies, first see if you already have something at home that will work. (Reduce, reuse, recycle.) Second, find a home for your divider. You need a home that is out of the way for working, but easily accessible. In my craft room, I have a 9-cube organizer that used to hold toys when my girls were smaller. It is now holding various craft supplies with my paper stored on top. This divider will fit perfectly into one of the cubes.
Now it’s time to sort. This is best done on a big, flat surface (I used the floor.) Our file divider has 9 slots so I recommend organizing by rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, and white. My project has red, yellow, blue, and green folder and manila for my other colors.
Start at the top of your pile and put each color in its designated folder. The great thing about this system is that no matter what size your paper, less than 1 inch or 12 inches, it will fit in the folder.
You might need to get creative on deciding where some patterned papers will go. My rule of thumb is to put it wherever your first inclination is. You’re the one using this system, so if you think a paper is green because that’s the dominant color you see, then file it in green.
My scraps include extra pieces that cut for projects and didn’t use.
Again, you should file the papers in the color folder that makes most sense to you. There are patterned papers in my brown and white folders, because in my mind, that makes sense to me.
Once you have gone through all the papers, you can put your folders into the divider.
The beauty of the file folder method is that you can just take out the folder you want and go through it.
Whatever home you found for your divider, should be easily accessible. Mine isn’t quite 12 inches tall, which means some of my paper gets bent at the top, but it still works for me. (I even got to use my Brother P-Touch label maker which I got as a gift almost 20 years ago and is still one of my favorite gifts ever!)
Using Your Scrap Paper Organizer
Now is the most fun part: using your organizer! My previous method was so overwhelming and tedious that I didn’t even want to use scrap paper most of the time. Now, I am happy to pull out a folder and glance through it for what I need. After a project, it is an extra step to separate and file my scraps (because tossing them in a pile is always easier) but I know that the extra step is worth it because I will find exactly what I need next time.
If you make a scrap paper organizer, please share a photo or video of it with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy (lazy) crafting!