I have a confession: I’ve a teeny, tiny obsession with letter stickers. Sure—chipboard letters are enticing. There’s the flexibility of cutting letters with my Silhouette, or stamping them, or even drawing them on my own. There’s also something to be said for rub-on letters, which are my second-favorite. But when it comes right down to it, my most-favorite, go-to-every-time title (and subtitle and sometimes even journaling) product is letter stickers. They are fast, versatile, and simple. In fact, I think I buy more letter stickers than any other scrapping supply—even patterned paper!
I'm certain you have your favorite lettering supply or technique, too. Alphas are such an essential part of a layout. Today's focus is on all those fabulous letters.
Yesterday you thought about how you use your supplies. Today, think about your shopping habits. Working with your three favorite colors, try to find the last ten or so lettering supplies that you’ve purchased. Make a list: type, color, brand. Put a checkmark next to the ones you’ve already used.
Now, within the generic “lettering supply” term, try to get a little bit more specific. What shape of font is your favorite? What size, texture, or mood feels most like you? To answer this question, pull an album off of your shelf (something other than the layouts you looked at yesterday) and flip through it. Pay attention to only the way you made letters. You could even keep a tally, if you want.
Is there a contrast between the lettering supplies you purchase and the ones you really use? That’s a sign: your purchases aren’t as useful as they could be. Try to analyze what draws you to purchase things versus use them. I’ll hold myself up as an example: it’s easy for me to get swept up in the "this is brand new and I have to have it right now" feeling. But when I look at what I really use, I can see two basic categories, script type and very simple types (either serif or sans) of alphabet stickers. I hardly ever use cute types, even if I love them in the scrapbook store. Knowing that, when I’m shopping I can more easily see if my I have to have this right now feeling is based on the excitement of something new or the recognition of something I’ll actually use.
Find the list you made yesterday—the one about your patterned paper preferences. Take a few minutes to analyze the difference between what you buy and what you use, focusing on your favorite lettering supply. Now add to your list—what lettering supply do you use most consistently? What style? Which supplies do you buy but not use consistently? Write this on your list.
Take a deep breath. Pick out three or four alphabet supplies you probably won’t use and put them into your discard box.
If I go to the scrapbook store simply because I find myself near one with a half hour or so to burn, it is easy for me to spend too much on stuff I’m likely not to use. Here are a few ways I control my spending when I'm browsing (instead of shopping for something specific, which we'll talk about later in the week):
- I don’t put anything in my basket until I’ve looked at everything in the store. Once it’s in my basket, it feels like it’s mine, so it’s harder to say no to.
- Before I put it in my basket, I think about how I would actually use the item. If I can only think of one way, I generally don’t buy it.
- I give it the Cupid Test. Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I fell in love with a cupid-shaped punch. I adored it! Until I got it home, used it on a layout—a Valentine’s day spread—and then realized: yeah, when else will I use this? If something is so specific to a theme or a holiday that its versatility is lost, it fails my Cupid Test.
- Bending the rules is allowed! I give myself some leeway so I don’t start to feel frustrated. Especially if something I want is on sale, I let myself indulge on one or two items.
- If I discover an alphabet sticker that will work on several layouts, I buy two sheets. This alleviates some of my alphabet sticker anxiety.
Organizing Lettering Supplies
Nearly every layout has some sort of lettering on it, so keeping these supplies organized is useful. What are your favorites? Keep them close to your workspace. The alphabet stickers I use the most are white, black, green, and blue; I keep these in a basket on the shelf above my desk. The others are all organized by color, so if I need some yellow alphabet stickers, I have to move across the room, but if I need white ones, they’re within reaching distance.
I keep all my raw and white chipboard letters in their own drawer. These are the ones I’m most likely to alter somehow, so I also keep my white and black paint in that drawer. (I like painting the vertical edge of chipboard either black or white, no matter how else I might alter it.)
Rub-on letters are the only products I keep in their packaging. I’ve had too many rub-on malfunctions happen to not store them like this! (It’s always that one last E you really, really need that was accidentally rubbed onto the inside of your storage container, isn’t it?) I also store these by color.
Use Your Stuff Tip
Breaking into a brand-new sheet of letter stickers always gives me a bit of anxiety. There’s that little part of me that worries “what if these would work better on a different layout?” or “maybe this layout isn’t the place for these letters?” I get over this fear by keeping in mind a couple of things:
- This is not the only “perfect” letter sticker (or rub on or ribbon or whatever I’m having anxiety about using). After scrapping for 15 years, I’ve seen a ton of new releases and learned this essential truth: there will always be something new. In six more months there’ll be a whole new batch of product I love just as much as this one. Saving it for the “perfect” layout is the perfect way to ensure it never gets used.
- If the word, phrase, or title I’m using the stickers for is very long, I make sure I have enough of each letter before I start peeling off stickers. I usually jot down what I’m spelling onto whatever small scrap of paper is close by; I put tally marks next to the letters I need more than one of. This also helps me to see the words—so I don’t spell anything wrong!
- I also mix letter stickers quite often. Breaking into two new sheets, or using an old one with a new one, alleviates the anxiety. Plus it makes for a more visually-interesting title!
- I remind myself often that, in the end, all that really matters about a layout is that I matched a story with a picture. Everything else—even those perfect letter stickers—is just icing.
Use Your Stuff Daily Challenge: Letter Stickers
Create a layout that mixes and matches letter from a black sheet of stickers, a white sheet, and one other color, each from a different manufacturer; find one of your oldest non-letter stickers and use it your layout too.
Here’s Jody Dent-Pruk's take on the challenge. I adore the simplicity of the design combined with the pop of energy the title makes:
Our other Jody, Jody Wenke, also took the sticker challenge. I love the detail in that last “O”!
Here’s my take on the challenge:
Note how we each used a small themed sticker to add detail to our layouts. Somehow along the line, stickers got a bad rap, but I think they’re perfect for adding pop to a layout. The one I used is ancient; I know I bought it before 2003 because that’s when the store I purchased it from went out of business.
Here’s the card I made with my left-over supplies: