Benefits of an Organized Pencil Stash

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

All of us that color for any period of time will undoubtedly create a stash of pencils. Thinking back, my stash started quite innocently. I ordered the set of 72 Prismacolor colored pencils. Then I attended a Vanilla Arts retreat where I listened to others talking with great enthusiasm about their pencil collections. Before I knew it I had ordered and received the complete set of 150 Prismacolor colored pencils. That resulted in me now owning duplicates of the first 72 I had. I don’t know what it is about writing a blog article that brings out confessions, but here I go again . . . at this point, the happy owner of 222 Prismacolor pencils, I was only using them in a (very) limited way when they were called for in a Vanilla Arts class.

But for some reason I can’t explain, when I found myself in a store that sold open stock Prismacolor pencils, I would pick up a few more because I knew I needed them. Then I would head home just to find out I already had them. So my stash was growing. It wasn’t long before my stash outgrew the storage box I had them in. All I can say is I justified this behavior because I have to drive over 25 miles to a store with open stock Prismacolor pencils so I need to keep extra pencils on hand. Plus, with my luck, the time when I need a pencil is at an hour of the night that the store is closed. As you can tell this had become a problem I really needed to solve.

By nature I’m a person that likes to keep things organized. So it was a bit surprising to find that my pencil stash was out of control. I mean, for goodness sake, how many years will it take me to use up these six dark umber pencils, yet I am almost out of lime peel!

So I looked around my studio (remember Google told us that any place we set up to color is a studio) and found a few empty pencil cases.

I bought these cases from Amazon to use when I travel with my pencils. They are great for that because the pencils are secure and covered. But when I’m home these cases just sit idle because I can't be bothered to pull pencils in and out of the elastic band as I color.

Then it hit me, put my stash of colored pencils in them.

To that end, I put my colored pencils into numeric order and filled the case. Some of you are probably wondering why I put them in numeric order versus by color family. Simple, because this is my “stash”. My stash is where I go to first when I need a pencil that is not in my drawers of “in use” pencils (which are stored by color family). It's faster for me to find my pencil by number then by color family. When I order my pencils online, they are also listed in numeric order, so that makes my ordering quick and easy too. It's also quick and easy to check my inventory against an upcoming class supply list.

I don’t put duplicates of the stash pencils into the case, those go in my stash box. But before they do, I take the time to sort the duplicates by number. When they are in numeric order, I open up my colored pencil case and place a black dot on the bottom of it’s matching pencil in the case. That dot indicates to me that if I need a fresh pencil, go to the stash box and find the spare there. I actually put a dot on all the duplicates but one. After all the spare pencils with dots are used, I take the one without a dot and replace the dotted pencil in my case with the pencil without the dot.

Now, when I’m coloring and I need to replace a short pencil, the first thing I do is open my case of pencils. I find the needed pencil. If there is a dot on the bottom, I don’t take the pencil out of the case, instead I reach for my box of duplicates. I rummage through and find all of duplicates of the color I’m about to replenish. If there is only one left in the box it will not have a dot on it. I take that pencil with no dot and exchange it for the one in my case, otherwise I just start using one of the pencils from the box with the dot.

Periodically I go through my case to determine if it’s time to replenish my supply.

I look at each of the pencils for the ones that do not have a dot on the bottom. Remember, that indicates that this is the last of that pencil (there is not another one of it in the stash box). If these are pencils that I use often I know I need to order them now.

It’s important to keep my stash organized, so when my order of pencils arrive I take the time to repeat the process to replenish my colored pencil case stash inventory. If I now have duplicate of a pencil I do the dot/no dot process I described above.

Now I can get back to coloring.

It may sound confusing, but it becomes second nature. And for me, keeping my stash organized is worth it because I really do save money and time as a result.

How you ask? I save money because I no longer buy multiples of pencils that I don’t need, which means I actually have more money to buy the ones I do need. Crazy I know, but it’s logical if you think about it long enough. It saves me a lot of time when I am coloring and need to replace a pencil. Additionally, it saves so much time when I'm preparing and gathering my required colored pencils for a class.

The latest benefit I realized as a result of having this stash . . . supplies are now low where I normally buy my colored pencils. Seeing so many pencils listed as out of stock, I went through my case and reordered the pencils without the dot on them. I now know that even though my order is waiting, it’s high up in the order to be filled when the supplier gets their stock replenished. I am not panicked as I know they will arrive as soon as possible without me ending up at the back of the line!

So what are you doing next? Is it time to (re)organize your pencil stash?

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