One day my friend showed up at my door with a Stampin’ Up! catalog and said, “Have you heard of this?”
I said, “Stampin’ Up!? Is that seriously the name? And it has an exclamation point?”
Um. No. We laughed and made fun of it. At the time, I was a long-time scrapbooker. I didn’t make cards.
That catalog encounter changed my life. I started making cards by attending Stampin’ Up! parties and collecting Stampin’ Up! products. To this day, I still LOVE the quality of Stampin’ Up! and continue to buy lots of their stuff.
If you are new to Stampin’ Up!, I know how overwhelming it can be. The catalog is ridiculously huge, plus there are two other catalogs that come out during the course of the year (The Holiday catalog in the Fall and the Occasions catalog in January). It’s hard to keep everything straight. I read these catalogs like books. Over and over actually. I’ve tried most of the products in it. There are plenty of products that are not exclusive to Stampin’ Up!. You can buy other brands, and sometimes the other brands are better. However, there are some uniquely Stampin’ Up! products that are must-haves.
In my opinion, the best thing they have going is dye inks. Their dye inks are fantastic. The stamping quality and colors cannot be beat. Not to mention that you can purchase everything else in coordinating colors (i.e. paper, markers, ribbon, patterned paper, etc.). Don’t take my word for it – view my dye ink comparison post and my stamping-off post The results are proof.
That being said, I would encourage you to try the inks. You can purchase an entire collection of 10 inks for more-or-less the price of 8. Or, you can purchase the inks individually. If you are going the collection route, I would go with the Brights Collection. It has many of your basic colors. It was my first Stampin’ Up! ink collection about 10 years ago, and many of my ink pads haven’t even been reinked yet! Just fabulous. And if you go with the collection, you can purchase matching cardstock in a variety pack.
If you want to purchase individual pads, here are my favorites of each color:
Red – Real Red
Pink – Melon Mambo (bright) or Pink Pirouette (light)
Orange – Pumpkin Pie
Yellow – Daffodil Delight (bright) and So Saffron (subtle)
Green – Wild Wasabi
Blue – Pacific Point (dark), Tempting Turquoise (bright), or Soft Sky (light)
Purple – Wisteria Wonder
Neutrals – Smoky Slate and Crumb Cake
I think there are better black and brown inks by other brands, so I don’t use my Stampin’ Up! inks pads in these colors very often.
About 85% of my solid-colored cardstock drawer is Stampin’ Up! colors. I buy all the variety packs so I pretty much have every color. I don’t use a lot of patterned paper in my card-making, but I do purchase Stampin’ Up!’s patterned paper (called “designer series paper”) for my scrapbooking. I also ALWAYS have these colors in my drawer, with a pack in reserve for when I run out:
- Whisper White – in my opinion, this cardstock is too thin for a card base (for which I always use Neenah). However, it absorbs the Stampin’ Up! inks like no other cardstock can. It’s just beautiful. If you want to see for yourself, check out the comparison I made in this post. If you buy the inks, you might as well get a pack of this.
- Basic Black – I love the thickness of this black cardstock. I keep it stocked at ALL times.
- Crumb Cake – I don’t know what it is about this cardstock, but it’s the best kraft cardstock I have tried. Better than Hero Arts and Neenah. It takes white ink extremely well, it’s the perfect shade, and the tone-on-tone with Versamark is remarkable.
#3: Linen Thread
I can’t get enough of the Stampin’ Up! Linen Thread. It’s pliable and not too thick. It frays a little to keep that linen look, but it’s not out of control. It’s perfect for adding a little something to your card without causing a distraction.
#4: Color Caddy for Ink Pad Storage
If you’re pressed for space (and even if you’re not), this caddy is my favorite way to store inks. The Stampin’ Up! ink pads fit perfectly into the slots, and the caddy spins for each access. It’s seriously fantastic. But, it gets better… this caddy fits other standard size ink pads, such as Simon Says Stamp, Hero Arts, My Favorite Things, Lawn Fawn, Ranger, Staz-On, Versafine, Memento, Adirondack, etc. I store my refills in the compartments at the top. A very efficient storage option!
#5: Heat Tool
To my knowledge, Stampin’ Up! is the only brand that has two settings on their heat tool. I use the low setting for vellum and it helps tremendously in avoiding warping.
#6: Metallic Sequins
Whenever I’m looking to add an embellishment to my card, it’s almost always black, white, or clear. The Stampin’ Up! Metallics Sequin assortment has black, white, clear, gold, and silver hearts, stars, and circles. It is seriously a go-to product for me.
#7: Acrylic Blocks
I debated buying this set of blocks for quite awhile, but I’m so glad I did. I used to have a drawer of miscellaneous blocks of all different qualities and sizes. It seemed like I needed a lot of them. I now only need the blocks in this set. I keep them in the Clear Block Storage caddy, permanently open, inside my main craft table drawer. Before I got the caddy, I just stored them in a box on my craft table. The blocks are thick, very clear, and have a smooth groove on the sides to make them very easy to grab and hold onto.
There are plenty of other items in the catalog I love, but these are the ones that I would classify as the best and sold only by Stampin’ Up!. Hope this helps you!