Here are some sites and places that you can visit, to get inspiration, find projects, and learn some new techniques, but who won’t ask you to spend any money — or well, not too much anyway.
Split Coast Stampers — this site bills itself as “the number one papercrafting site on the web.” Well, I don’t know about that, but it is a good site. There are forums, you can upload cards to your own gallery, even host a blog. You can buy a premium “Fan Club” membership for $24.95 a year. Some stamp and paper companies do have forums on the site, but they aren’t allowed to sell anything or advertise, just present information about their products, offer challenges, show projects and such. Split Coast is pretty agressive about the noncommercial bent — you can’t even add a line about “hey, buy my stuff” in your profile sig. There are a lot of banner ads, though. (I guess they have to pay for all that server space somehow.) But all in all, it’s a good place to communicate with other crafters, learn some new techniques, and showcase your work without constantly being bugged to buy stuff.
Rubber Stamp Chat.net — a similar site to Split Coast, but smaller and a little rougher edged. Has a more homegrown feel and does not receive as much traffic, but the members are very open and helpful. Rubber stamping, obviously, is the main focus of this site, which is OK by me as that is my main mode of papercrafting. Has forums and a gallery. Vendors have forums, and can advertise and sell items, but since it’s mostly a text-based site, it’s pretty low-key. One thing they do have is “virtual stamp conventions” a couple times a year, where vendors run sales and present tutorials. The RSC members also do a lot of card and ATC swaps.
Online Card Classes — Onlinecardclasses.com is a website run by noted cardmakers Kristina Werner and Jennifer McGuire, where they conduct video-based classes on various styles and techniques of card-making. You have to pay for the courses, of course, but the cost is always reasonable, and once you pay you have lifetime access to the class materials. You can take classes live throughout the year, during which you can upload your work to the student gallery, communicate with the teachers in a message board, and register to win prize packages. Or for a reduced cost you can take a finished class as self-study. You still have access to all the videos, the PDF instructions, and can view the gallery and forum, but not add to it. I think the classes are a reasonable price to pay to learn new techniques, and new ways to use materials you already have.
Some of the classes I have taken and recommend are:
Clean and Simple Cards 1 and 2 — tons of techniques and sketches to make “clean and simple” cards — cards with minimal embellishments and strong focal images.
Creative Chemistry 101 and 102 — these classes are taught by the famous Tim Holtz, who teaches you some of the science behind Ranger’s many different products — how and why they work — and how to use them. You create swatch books demonstrating many different techniques to keep for future reference. These classes are packed with information.
Insider — a mini-class on decorating the inside of your cards, to enhance the outside. Really will lead you to think of your cards in a new way.
Stretch Your Stamps — a class specifically geared to introducing you to new ways to use the stamps you already have — background stamps, border stamps, letter stamps, line and solid images. A great class for those wanting to work with what they already have.
Pattern Play — another mini-class about using patterned paper. I learned some great tips from this class.
Classes I have not yet taken, but which would probably also be good for stash-crashing, are His & Hers — making masculine and feminine versions of the same card sketch — and A Cut Above, about die-cutting.
You can watch a video about how the classes work here.
You can see some of the other cards I have made during the Online Card Classes at my other blog, Kirsten 2.0.
Your Public Library — this might sound unlikely, but I am a librarian at a public library and I am going to mention it. 🙂 What you can find at your library are books about cardmaking, scrapbooking and papercrafting. Books full of techniques and projects that will help you use what you already have. (And books on all sorts of other arts & crafts like jewelrymaking, needlecrafts, soapmaking and chandlery, painting, drawing and more.) Old books that are out of print, but that you can still find, and the newest books off the presses. And if there is a book you’d like to see before buying, you can ask the library to purchase it and add it to their collection.
I was attracted to the idea of rubber stamps, and the possibility of creating art without having to painstakingly draw or paint everything. (I can draw, but I can’t paint, I’ve tried, I just don’t “get” it somehow.) But once I purchased a couple beginner stamp sets, I was puzzled as to what exactly to do with them. I figured it out at the library. The book that really turned me on to stamping was Rubber Stamp Extravaganza by Vesta Abel from North Light Books. North Light makes great craft books, full of gorgeous pictures and clear instructions. But the book that taught me the most, the basis of the work I do today, was 100 Great Ways to Use Rubber Stamps, by Francoise Read. The book starts with the basics, inking and stamping, and moves on to progressively more advanced techniques — heat embossing, die cuts, stamped jewelry, and more, with multiple projects for each. Such a useful book that I finally went out and bought my own copy.
And the best thing of course, is you can read and use these books for free, as many as you like, without having to buy anything. It’s the public library — you have already paid for it with your taxes. It’s a great resource. Seriously, visit your local library, you’ll be amazed.
If you have any other suggestions, add them in the comments!
UPDATE: Here is something cool I found the very next day — the “Shopping Our Stash” challenge blog! shoppingourstash.blogspot.com The challenge is to only use things you have dug out of your stash, not new supplies. It is a weekly challenge, Tuesday to Monday, and winners are announced on the next Saturday. They choose three winners. There are occasional prizes.
I’m excited about this. Having a theme and a deadline to meet will really help us “shop our stash,” as they say. The current challenge is Valentine’s Day or “Love Me Tender.”
UPDATE II: I found more sites! Thankfully I am not alone in my stash-crashing quest. Blogger Darnell Knauss at DJ Kard Creations also has a program to use her unused stash, which she calls NBUS, Never-Before Used Schtuff. 🙂 I found her because she commented on my blog here! Cool, I will use the NBUS tag on my posts from now on.
And there is also Lindsay of The Frugal Crafter, whose blog is all about getting the most out of your supplies and saving money. (She does take paid endorsements and sponsorships, though — be aware of that. Her policy on that is here.) Lindsay hosts a Youtube video series called “Ask a Crafter” that is often informative.
UPDATE III: Blogger Amy Andrade has a papercrafting blog called All Things Beautiful. She has different themed posts for every day of the week. Thursday is “Using My Tools Thursday,” where she pulls old stuff from her stash and uses it. It’s good to see someone else doing this. 🙂 Her posts can give us ideas of what to work with. She also features other crafters on her blog, which is a nice gesture. Hopefully I’ll be featured someday.
The Sketch N Stash Challenge Blog is a “use your stash” challenge similar to Shopping Our Stash, but you also have to use the chosen sketch. It runs every two weeks, and has prizes, usually from digital stamp shops. I think this blog comes out of the UK, and it features that particularly British style of cards with the layers and layers of patterned paper, a colored focal image, ribbons and lace and diecuts and bling. You know what I mean. (They seem never to have heard of CAS over there.) If you are a CAS cardmaker, you may not get far with this challenge, but if not, it’s another incentive to crash your stash.
UPDATE IV: Here’s another stash challenge blog! The Clear It Out Challenge Blog. You have to use the suggested theme (humor, food, colors, etc.) and the designated item from your stash (punches, DP, charms). Challenges are posted bi-weekly and you have a week to enter. Prizes are offered. Usually digi-stamps — this is a digi-stamp blog where the design team and the entrants seem to use a lot of digital “stamp” images. (I have a problem with calling colored-in printed computer images “stamps,” but let’s not get into that now.) The challenge has the usual sorts of restrictions — new projects, no back-linking, link to the challenge in your post. New challenges are loaded on Tuesdays. I will add it to my blogroll.
UPDATE V: Thanks to the ladies at Glitter and Glue from WOYWW, I’ve found a new stash-crashy challenge! It’s called Craft Hoarders Anonymous. The rules are: use products from your stash; follow the rules of the challenge– theme, color, manufacturer, sketch, etc.; and the usual stuff like no back-linking, linking to the post and not to the blog entire, etc. You can combine any number of challenges. Challenges are biweekly. Occasional prizes are awarded to top contestants, and not by random draw.
Remember, if you know of anything else, add it in the comments. I’d love to know about it.