Oooh, this one is a hot topic. We all love stamps and we love to buy more and then we have all these stamps and then we buy more stamps because we want more stamps and where does it end?

With frustrated stampers. That's exactly where it ends.

So we are going to have an honest conversation about stamps. The good, the bad, and honestly – the ugly.

When I started this series on clearing out your craft room and paring supplies down, we compared patterned paper to clothing. That same comparison applies to stamps.

There are a few differences of course – as patterned paper is consumable – we can use it up, and stamps are not.

But let's talk about why we buy stamps.

We usually buy them because we see them and love them, or because we saw ONE project someone made and we said, “Okay, now I have to get that set.” Am I right?

I was introduced to stamping and Stampin' Up! back in 1997. Yep, that long ago. I made my first card at a Stampin' Up! party that my boss was hosting. Did you catch that? My boss hosted it. I had no choice but to go. Seriously, no choice.

I made a card and then took it to work with me and showed it to all my male co-workers that pretended to be impressed. (I could go weeks without seeing the two other female paramedics that I worked with.)

So at the time, I was saving lives and caring for patients for $6.24/hour. Working 24 hour shifts, many weeks putting in 96-120 hrs a week. And my paychecks were never over $1000 for a two week pay period.

Now this isn't a sob story about any of that – this is me showing you that I made next to nothing, had my own apartment and bills, a car payment of $256/month – why do I remember that?

And I found a hobby where I could make a card for only $352.

Do you see the issue?

Now this was before die cutting was something someone would have in their home, only school workrooms with the big giant machines had those and the dies to go with it.

So the price has gone up.

We will go into this a bit more in an upcoming post, but it needed to be said for this reason…

I fell in love with Stampin' Up! because I could buy stamps in sets. Back then, that was new. You could only get an alphabet in a set at Michaels. Our local stamp store in Lubbock, TX, sold a single stamp for about $4-8 each. And I could buy an entire set from Stampin' Up! for about $20-25, that would have 6-15 stamps in it.

That's a total score! I mean massive deal!

So that was when my love affair began.

Then that became popular with other stamp companies and now it's rare to find a stamp company that doesn't sell them in sets.

Story Time With Meg

I have two items of my maternal grandfather's belongings. Out of their entire house, I have 2. And they are his stamp sets from when he was a young boy. They are a hard material on wood blocks that needed a lot of TLC to get the into good working order. I have them and I treasure them.

The point in saying that is that some stamps were built to last. And some are not.

Rubber stamps will last a long time if you maintain them. Just like a rubber band, they can dry out, and they aren't a fan of direct sunlight. A great stamp cleaner with a conditioner is key.

Then these acrylic stamps came on the market and they had one big flaw, they yellowed. And the ones I had would tear pretty easily.

Then photopolymer stamps hit the market, and they are the material of choice for almost all stamp companies now.

When Stampin' Up! first came out with them, the life expectancy was less than 8 years. They told us that. They told us to tell our customers that.

Then they changed the material. If you have some of the originals and compare them to what we have now, you will see a big difference. And they haven't released new information on how long they should last. But I have some that are over a decade old that are doing great. So they passed up that initial 8 year mark.

Again, they need to be stored in a cool place and out of the sun. Sun + Stamps = Bad

So if you take care of your stamps, they will last you….

But they will last you probably longer than you need them.

Let that sink in for a second….

So How Long Should We Keep Them?

Just like with our clothing analogy, there are things we buy to wear once. There are stamps we buy to make that one card we saw that we have to duplicate. We make that project and then the stamps sit there, unloved on a shelf.

We buy stamps that honestly look better “on the hanger”. We get them into our craft space and wonder what we were thinking when we bought them.

We also buy them like we order pie. “I want the biggest piece!” Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, so we buy them all, when we kinda know in our knower that we probably won't use them.

We buy them and use the ever loving snot out of them to where our friends recognize the same images on their birthday cards year after year.

We buy them for only one image out of the entire set..

Or, they are so out of date and trend, and we may not be alive for them to come back in style in 30 years. I think the middle part took about 25 years to come back around and I am still not a fan. Flared pants haven't fully made it back in, I'll let you do the sad math on how long that's taken.

And it's okay for things to go out of style. Our world would be so boring if we all still had the same stuff all the time.

New is fun, new is fresh, new is a good thing.

This is Where I Get Unpopular

Above I mentioned, we sometimes buy a stamp set for one image that we have to have. There is nothing wrong with that!

If you are going to use it. and let's say the stamp set costs $25 and it's for one image – that is okay. It may not sound okay when I first say it, but let's talk about it.

I may not know you, but I know you have spent $25 on a purchase in the last two months for something you didn't use at all. Or something you drink, like coffee. So if that one image will bring you card making joy, go for it!

What you don't have to do, hold on to your seat, take a deep breath….

are you ready?

You don't have to keep the entire set.

I know some of you just leaned into your computer screen to see if you read that correctly.

Yep. You don't have to keep them. Keep the one image and get rid of the rest.

Some sets have an ugly stamp or two in them. You know the ones, right?

Here Come the Buts

  • But Meg, it's a SET!!! And sets are meant to stay together!!!

Uhhhh…. why? Who says? Who made that rule? Who said that to you and you bought into it?

Let me then be the one to tell you, you bought it. It's yours. You can do with it what you want.

  • But Meg, what if I want to sell the set later, but I want to keep that one image?

It's simple, you disclose that information. Problem solved.

  • But Meg, what if I need the one other little image that I didn't know I needed 5 years ago when I bought the set, and I have never used it but maybe one day NEED it?

You've gone 5 years without it and still managed to make cards. It's okay.

  • But Meg, what if there is just one ugly stamp?

Pull out that ugly stamp and put in on a sheet and start a very small collection of ugly stamps. There are a lot of stampers that would like to have those ugly random images, trust me!

I don't say anything of this to be cheeky or mean. I say it in a way that's hopefully opening your eyes to how you get to control your supplies, rather than your supplies owning you.

It's how you can let go of things because you know you will want new things in the future.

Let Me Get Even More Unpopular

You buy a stamp set, let's say a Christmas set to use for your upcoming Christmas cards. And you make them. And they are stunning and delightful!

That makes them a seasonal purchase. At the end of the season, you can be done with them.

I know, that makes me very unpopular. Because these stamps CAN still work later.

But here's what I know about teaching stamping for over two decades….

More stamps will come out that you want to buy.

So yes, the stamps can still work… in someone else's craft room!

So Now What?

Bless and release. Release mentally and physically. The items that you've never even used are just like the clothes in your closet that still have the tags on. Own the purchase choice and move forward.

Have grace with yourself on what you have purchased in the past.

Go through your stamps and really look at them. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they out dated?
  • Have I used them too much?
  • Have I even used them?
  • Would someone else enjoy using them rather than them sitting here collecting dust?

For those, put them in a box. Pull them off your shelf, out of your bins, out of your space. We will talk about what to do with them in another post.

For those that you look at and really only like a few of the images, pull those images out and put them on the plastic sheets that stamps come on. Put those sheets in a box and label it “My Favorites”.

Buying new is great! Buying new and walking into your craft space and asking yourself why you bought them when you have all these other stamps already that you don't use, isn't great.

Instead, start really choosing what you will use rather than holding onto images that came in a set out of convenience that has now turned into guilt.

These companies decided to sell in sets. That doesn't mean you have to keep them in sets. You can make your own custom cases and mix and match to your heart's content.

AND, you can also do this same thing with dies. Put the die with the stamp image that you like in your “My Favorites” box and you'll be good.

Wrapping It Up

I know that these ideas may seem uncomfortable, daunting, and possibly even wasteful.

My goal is for you to have a craft area ONLY with supplies you will actually use. That, to me, is an ideal craft space.

Let go of what you won't use, because I find out time and time again…

There is usually more in a craft area that won't be used than will be used.

Let that sink in for a bit.

I used to offer craft space organization as part of my business. I traveled up to four hours away to do this process with stampers and they paid me a lot of money to do this. One client paid for me to be there for 3 days, so she paid for two nights in a hotel, plus meals, and my fee for doing this.

We had a lot of fun going through these supplies one by one. At the end, she had a craft space she adored – and never looked back.

I did this for at least 75 clients back in the day. I only stopped to spend more time being a mom than a craft space organizer.

So when I say that this works and happiness comes from it, and crafting comes from it, I mean it.

We will cover costs of new supplies, we will cover getting rid of the old, all of that.

For now, if you feel like you have too many stamps that you aren't using, and there is any hint of guilt – or a lot of guilt – with them, please read back through this as many times as you need to.

Leave Me A Comment

On each of these posts, I am asking for comments. But what I haven't done a good job of is saying that not only do the comments help me, they help you! Your comment could help someone. And someone else's comment could help you.

I've set aside about 20+ hours to write up all these tips and stories to help you in your space. This one has taken me over two hours to write and proof. I am okay with asking you to spend a few minutes leaving me a comment on where you are stuck, how this has helped, or any “aha” moments you've had as you've read this.

Next up, we are talking about Bargain Purchases. I hope that has your interest!!! See you in that one. XOXO, Meg

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