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Pens & Pencils


by Gwyn Calvetti

Scrapbooking conjures up images of stacks of gorgeous papers and photos, adhesives and trinkets galore.  Pens and pencils seem utilitarian next to all this, but with organization that places them at hand, they can add much to your designs.  Organize your writing tools well, and they will make a bigger impact in your work by being up front and available. You may even find that they deserve starring roles on some of your designs!

Organizing experts always stress evaluating the needs first before buying your first storage container.  Pens and pencils are no exception to this rule, even though they are likely to be among the smallest of your supplies in both size and number. 

Asking yourself the following questions is the first step toward developing an organizational system that will meet your needs best.  What are the most common uses made of your pens and pencils?  Do you attend crops outside the home often?  Where are you most likely to work with your writing implements?  The answers to these questions will give you valuable information for how you use your pens and pencils and how they can be stored and accessible when you scrapbook.  For instance:

  • Frequent traveling to crops requires specialized storage to keep the pens and pencils contained.


  • Using your pens and pencils for hand lettering and hand journaling may dictate their proximity to other tools, such as rulers, lettering templates and gum erasers.
  • Using pens and pencils to create artistic elements suggests keeping them visible and accessible, perhaps arranged by color families.


  • If you are a “supply collector,” keep in mind you will be adding to your collection and need to keep it all organized and stored.  Your system will need to allow room to grow.

Keeping these ideas in mind will help you avoid buying an organizational tool or system that looks cool but is ineffective for your specific needs. 

As well your own pen- and pencil-using habits, you’ll need to consider the storage needs of the pens and pencils themselves.  Pens have specific storage requirements if you wish to maintain them optimally. 

  • Marker-style pens and pens with writing tips on both ends must be stored horizontally to keep the ink distributed evenly. Attempting to store them vertically can result in all the ink “pooling” on the downward tip, with the other end drying out.  In addition, any type of pen that requires you to shake before use, such as metallic paint markers, should be stored in the same manner.
  • Ink pens such as gel pens, Zig Writers and similar pens should always be stored so that they are vertical, with the writing end down, cap on. 


  • Pencils can be stored vertically or horizontally. If they are stored vertically, place them in the storage container with the sharpened ends up.  This way, you have less chance of the sharpened tip breaking off, requiring additional sharpening before use.

You’ve looked at your supplies and how you generally use them.  Now comes the fun part: choosing how best to store them.  You have many choices available.  Some are low tech, and require not much more than your time and effort. Others are highly specialized designs unique to the needs of scrapbookers.  Take a walk down the aisles of your office supply or specialty art supply shop for some storage ideas with a little more panache. Many of these are inexpensive and they’ll corral your pens and pencils with style. You decide what will be best for your space.

Tin cans - The old summer camp standby is still a great one: cheap, economical and allowing for endless variation.  Save old juice or soup cans, using a file to remove any sharp edges inside.  They can be anything from simple containers to altered works of art. Some ideas to personalize your storage include:

  • Use fabric, paint or paper scraps to decorate the outside.
  • Color coordinate your containers by color family; red pencils and pens in a red-decorated can.
  • Stack the cans and tip them on their sides.  Wrapping with heavy hemp or other decorative fibers and sealing with glue will create an attractive corral for your writing implements needing horizontal storage.


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