Here are five tips for how I prepare for a crop or retreat weekend. Okay, these are what I would ideally do if I weren’t rushed (like I have been the last few times). And when I do these things, I certainly have a more productive day. I have been known to get up to 30 layouts done at a 12 hour crop!
1. Make Page Kits. I cannot say it enough. Get the base design done at home. Place the pics, matching paper, cardstock, ribbon, stickers or whatever you have that goes with a layout. This is actually BEST done when you buy something, not when you decide to crop. The moment you pull the stuff out of the bag from the store, set it up in a page kit instead of sticking it in your main stash.
You may buy football stickers for instance. Put them in a bag with a note that they are for Bryce’s football practice page. If you can, pull some paper from your stash that matches the pictures (in this case, the football uniforms) or the stickers themselves- that way you are still using some stuff out of your stash too. Put it all in a bag. Then when you get your pics, slip them into a bag and you’re ready to go.
The above items are what I would have in a typical page kit. Sometimes I have more paper or more ribbon than I need. I just know I might not use it and I understand that if I don’t use it, I will have to put it all away later when I finish the page. Just something to consider when packing page kits-don’t put too much stuff in it cuz you have to put it all away later! These are the actual items in this page kit:
I have several rubbermaid tubs of page kits ready to go. Whenever I need to go cropping, I just pull some kits out of my tubs and I am ready to go.
Don’t get scared—this is way more kits than a sane person should have. I’m just crazy about making these kits I guess. A normal person should have like maybe 10 kits on hand, not like me…I don’t even want to know how many are in here!
2. Let the Colors Lead You. Try to stick to a set of colors so you don’t have to bring EVERYTHING. You can sort your page kits so they focus on a few colors. Your page kits might have mostly red, orange, and blue stuff in them. So only bring the embellishments and alpha stickers that are red, orange, and blue and leave the rest at home. You likely won’t need purple embellies on these pages! Basics like white and black alpha stickers or rub-on alphabets are always a good bet too.
3. Save Some For Later. I don’t bring some things to crops because they take up too much space, are heavy, or they are expensive and I don’t want to worry about theft. For instance, I usually leave stamps (too many blocks and inks), sizzix dies (heavy and costly), heat guns (what if I can’t find an outlet?), and Quickutz dies (costly) at home. I can use those tools at home after the page is done.
If that tool or technique is an integral part of the page, maybe that layout just isn’t good for a crop or retreat—it might be one I should just do at home. You can even cut titles and diecuts BEFORE you go to the crop and put those in the page kit instead of trying to lug $4000 worth of Sizzix dies into a crop room. Better yet, see if a friend or the store/retreat/crop location, has the tools you like to use so you can just use theirs instead of bringing yours.
4. Keep a “Ready Bag”. I have a tool tote filled with adhesives, scissors, and all of my essentials at all times. When I go to crop it is ready to go. Sometimes I am missing stuff out of it because I used it in a class but I try to make sure it is always well stocked. And if I run out of adhesive at a crop, I buy new stuff and put it in my bag so it is there the next time I need it. I also have other items “packed” that I always bring. Inks and my embellishment cases (Dot Boxes by Cottage Mills) usually go with me to all the crops.
I also use Scrapbook Royalty tote hooks to keep my bag and purse off the floor and off the table. With the tools within in reach and easy to see, it makes cropping go faster. And I have more cropping space, especially at those events where you only get 3-4 feet of space!
Here are the usual contents of my tool tote:
3D Foam Squares
Foam Paint Brushes
Craft or Exacto Knife
Scissors, at least 2 pair, usually my Fiskateer Scissors and Tim Holtz Tonic Scissors
Tiny Alpha Stickers and word stickers for journaling
Wet Adhesive (I like PVA)
Dry Adhesive (Tombo or Kokuyo runners are my faves, I use the ATG when I have refills for it which I am out of right now)
Glue Dots (in sm, med, and large)
Craft Glue Dots
Stick Pins (to unclog glue, poke holes, clean out the crop a dile)
Crop A Dile
Holes punches for brad holes
Slit punch for tags
Needle Nose Pliers
Rubon tool or Quickutz QuickStix
Black Journaling Pens in several sizes
Brown Journaling Pen
White Journaling Pen
Notepad for ideas, phone numbers
Post It Notes
Lotion for hands (I like the Tinkering Ink ones)
Business Cards – in case I make friends!
Woman Stuff in a discreet case (in case Mother Nature visits – I’m being real here. It also doubles as an anti-theft device. Who would want my bag with a big PAD in it?!)
Meds. If you need to take meds, keep ‘em in your crop bag! That goes for Tylenol or Motrin too.
Scrapbook Royalty tote hook case and tote hooks
Extra blades for my trimmer on a binder ring
5. Get a Bag that Fits Your Stuff and Stick With It. The limited space of one or two bags helps you pack lighter and stay focused. Every time I deviate and start bringing sacks of stuff, loose items, and more than 2 bags I get very little done because I am distracted by all the stuff around me. Your trimmer, tools, embellishments, and page kits should FIT in your bag—if you have loose stuff everywhere it will be EVERYWHERE while you are trying to crop and you won’t get much done because you’ll have a cluttered workspace. Not to mention your cropping neighbors won't like that they have to climb all over your stuff to get to the ladies' room. Right now my Trimmer does not fit in either of my favorite bags and it kills me—it is always in the way when I am cropping because I don’t have a spot in my bag where I can put it when I am not using it. Uggh!!
Hopefully these tips help you to be a more efficient cropper and to have more fun. Gabbing is great but getting pages done is great too!