Sunday, October 11, 2015

Chatty Sunday: Old/retired stamps

Last year, I really underestimated how long it takes to make Christmas cards for the whole family - which lead to a week of marathon card-making, lots of frazzled nerves and forgetting what my cards even looked like a week later. So, I decided to be better organized this year and start my card-making early -- as in this weekend early.

Going through my supplies, I noticed two things:
1) My collection of Christmas/Winter stamps is MASSIVE, second only to my "sentiments" section, which has a rather large variety of actual themes. I've got enough Christmas stamps to make a card for all of my friends/family for the next couple of years and not use the same stamp twice...
2) Several of the stamps in my collection are now retired. I expected a few of those, as they come from companies that retire their stamps very frequently. But a few were a surprise, and left me thinking.

If you've read my blog, you know that using old/retired supplies has been a challenge for me. On one hand, I really want to use my old supplies - I didn't get them so they can sit pretty in my crafty stash. On the other hand, I worried that seeing projects with unavailable materials will leave readers and fellow card-makers frustrated. Or (worse yet!) they will turn into uninspiring projects that everyone has seen and done a million times already.

But as I looked over my Christmas stamps/supplies, I found those worries faded and got quieter. Instead, I was excited by all the possibilities and couldn't wait to jump into creating. What changed? Well, some of it has to do with my new mentality of focusing on doing (read about it briefly here) and making use of things that inspire me. And the rest is the fact that I was making cards for friends and family - people who won't know which stamp set I used or whether it was retired. They'll just care that the card was made with them in mind.

I wondered if this feeling of excitement and inspiration would carry over to my other supplies and I found - much to my delight - that it did! I saw my old/retired stamps in a brand new light. Some of them I couldn't wait to use and I already have a million ideas for. Others would take a little extra thinking and planning.

So, I developed a little list of questions I ask myself about each retired stamp:
- Does it still inspire me?
If I can think of a card (or 3) just by looking at the stamp, it's a keeper. I took the time to jot down a few of the most promising ideas in my notebook, and grabbed a few stamps to highlight in the upcoming weeks.
- Is it a staple?
Some of my stamps aren't necessarily things I would use all the time, but they're very necessary. A good example are sympathy stamps or pattern stamps. I don't make a whole lot of sympathy cards, but it's useful to have a few sets dedicated to the occasion. Likewise, I tend to use patterned paper over making my own patterns, but I may use that long stripe stamp in the future.
- Can it challenge me?
I've got a few stamp sets that are not in the same style as the majority of my cards. Some are vintage, others are a more modern/graphic style - neither of which necessarily mesh with my cute/bright/cartoony card style. But I would like to challenge myself to use them in a card or art journal layout.

The majority of my old stamps fit into one of those 3 categories. And the few that don't are things purchased during massive sales or things I received as a random gift. I've set them aside for now. I will look at them again next year, and if they don't inspire me, I will give them away.

All in all, this left me with a very positive feeling about those old/retired stamps. I'm inspired to use them and looking forward to sharing bits and pieces in my blog.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I think that is a BRILLIANT way to look at your stamps. If you can still use it and you still LOVE it, then keep and use it. I often use stamps which are retired but I use them because: a) I love them, b) in some cases I haven't used them yet and by golly I am going to use them and c) I hope my card can inspire regardless - maybe a colour theme, or the design, or perhaps introduce people to a stamp company they might not be familiar with. And I guess D) I'm using something which is different from everyone else. So keep creating with the old/retired....they have a special place here too.

    1. Oh, I agree so much!

      It felt like it took a lot of the weight off, too. There's tremendous pressure in only using the latest and the greatest or only staying current. It feels like one big spending race and card competition, and not a really fulfilling one at that.

      Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy getting new supplies here and there (especially paper!), but I feel so much more content to use what inspires me, whether it's old or new.