I'm currently in the process of organizing my inks and ink swatches, so I thought I'd share how I used my inks before and what I've changed.
My old system had the inks separated by manufacturer, then the majority of it stuck in a box because I had no way to display them. And that basically just lead to a bunch of wonderful inks that never got used. It was time to fix it.
My first big project was to make an ink swatch for all of the inks I have. I actually have a variety of inks - water-based dye inks, oil-based dye inks, hybrid inks, pigment inks and distress inks. So, I needed to have one central place where I could look at the different colors I have and easily figure out what techniques I can use them with.
I saw one of Jennifer McGuire's videos on ink swatches and I thought her system would work perfectly for me. So, I bought this set of coin-collecting pocket page protectors on Amazon. I cut out 2x2" pieces of card stock to insert into each pocket, then stamped a swatch rectangle and labelled it with ink name, company and type.
What I love about this system is that I can arrange and re-arrange the swatches as well as easily take them out to compare with paper or embellishments. Visually, it's helping me quickly identify what kind of colors I'm missing (yellow and green), and makes it less tempting to cave and buy more ink pads.
Another unexpected benefit of this system is seeing the different degrees of coverage I get out of my ink pads - especially after the ink was left to dry and really soak into the paper. I was using a completely solid stamp and it took practice with several of the inks to get it to stamp smoothly and evenly. I've discovered that I need to be a lot more careful with light inks - since they're hard to see on a photopolymer stamp. I seem to have a tendency to over-ink while making sure the stamp is covered evenly, and that results in a messy, splotchy image.
Also, I've now got a new-found love for Hero Arts Shadow inks and Simon Says Stamp inks. They have the same formula and stamp really splotchy at first. But over time, they even out and you end up with a rich and smooth result after drying.
On the other hand, I was a bit under-whelmed with my hybrid inks from My Favorite Things. They work just fabulously for Copic coloring. But their solid coverage wasn't as great -- and I've got a few ink colors that I wouldn't be using for Copics necessarily. So, some of those inkpads will be going into box storage.
I'm still working my way through the archival inks from Ranger (they're oil-based) and my collection of pigment inks. I've found that some of my Memento Luxe pigment inks have already dried out, so I've thrown them out. I was very careful about how I stored them -- had them upside down and with the lid secured, so I'm not sure exactly why they dried out. But they were some of the first inks I got, and I have no idea how long they sat in a warehouse before making their way to me. I'm going to try and figure out why they dried out or if there's any products I can get to refresh them. I know that there are ink refresher sprays for dye inks, but I don't know if anything exists for pigment inks.
I recently got a low white shelf that will be sitting in the closet and holding ink pads I plan on using fairly often. I have small canvas boxes I bought on sale at my local Target that will do a good job of keeping them contained. I thought about investing in a fancy stamp storage shelf, but I really don't have enough room for it at the moment. Maybe once all of my supplies are organized, I'll think about more permanent storage. But for now, I'm going for cheaper alternatives that will help me find and display my supplies.
I also bought a few small plastic baskets like these that will hold my most-used inks -- hybrid inks for Copic coloring, distress ink pads, black and brown pigment inks for sentiments and my Versamark ink for embossing. Having a designated basket I can easily grab for a technique will be very useful.
And that's all for my ink pads and ink swatches! Next time, I will be tackling the mountains of cardstock. :)