Man. Deadlines and real-life work can be a huge time suck…all that work just to pay some bills and a mortgage. My apologies for being less available on the blog here. I was really hoping to be more inclined to write daily…well, not daily but at the very least weekly, and that hasn’t happened. But, hey I’m here and spring training baseball games start on Sunday. It’s a great time to be alive! (despite the title of this post).
I’ve mentioned many times that I deal with stress in a very specific way and that way is to sort cards…who woulda guessed that having read my blog over the years. With that in mind, when I have moments to myself and can duck down to the basement, I sort…crush, kill, destroy, stress…or more appropriately…sort, organize, sleeve, file…maybe that’s a better title. Less depressing.
How do I sort and collate you ask, well let me tell ya!
For me, organization is critical but consistency is vital. I like to begin with a general idea or template for what the overall collection would look like together then move forward with a plan that hopefully satisfies all the known requirements. That involves lots of deep thinking whilst drinking bourbon. The ideas flow way better with brown water, you know.
For this blog post, I’ll be focusing on stars and Hall of Fame players for baseball. I’ve done the same for football and basketball players as well as team sorting. Those may come at a later date if there’s more interest in how I do what I do.
STEP 1: Materials
I’ve decided that space between my cards is important. I like to give the rows some room to breathe and grow as my collection grows. Having room also allows to be able to grab the cards as I need and look through them without having to pry them out with a shoe horn. The best material I’ve utilized for this is foam core, white in this case. Now, foam core isn’t really great for the environment long term, I know. Living in Portland, I’m constantly reminded of the horrible things I learned growing up in Texas, but at least I’m aware and try my best. I do lay the boards out in a way that utilizes the whole sheet as efficiently as possible. Whenever I have scraps I always find uses for them and am able to make something from them rather than tossing them in the trash can.
I typically buy 30” x 42” x 1/8” sheets and start marking them up with guidelines spaced out to 2 3/4″ along the 30” side (14 columns) and 3 3/4″ along 40” side (8 rows). That gives me 112 pieces with some scraps that work well for shipping or spacing out other projects you may have.
***If you’re unaware of foam core, don’t want to be presumptuous, It’s easy to find at any art shop as well as most grocery stores. Everything I purchase is from Blick Art Supplies here in Portland (they’re a national chain so find your Blick!)***
STEP 2: Labels
The next step is the label creation. For this process, I use Adobe InDesign and have created a layout that lets me type in a name easily and move on to the next one. This does take some time the way I have it set up, but I like it and it works. Plus, I don’t really update this very much after the initial setup. I had actually created these labels prior to purchasing a printer and did them on 100lb white card stock. I wanted something a tad more rigid that would be great long term. In hindsight, I don’t think this was necessary and regular paper works fine…plus it’s easier to cut.
Next step was to, very lightly score the top and bottom line above the name. This part is going to be folded over the labels, so the scoring makes it easier to get a nice bend…told you, I was particular about these things. Next I cut the columns out, then cut the rows out of each column. That worked best for me…this part does take some time and patience. Music or a great podcast helps make it move forward quickly…so, definitely do that…also, bourbon. Four Roses works best with Queens of the Stone Age.
STEP 3: Adhesion
Third step is the attachment process of the labels to the foam core. I used white masking tape for this. You can find this fairly inexpensively at just about any store that has a hardware department or an art store. Mine came from Blick. I set up strips of the tape on a cutting mat, following the lines for a nice alignment then cut off the jagged ends. Next I cut the tape to a length that would be able to wrap around the foam core one complete pass, 6” seem to be a perfect length.
After the tape has been cut and the labels are stacked and ready to. Start taping amigo! Make sure you get the tape tightly wrapped around the four sides and that it hangs down enough so you don’t see the tape. My goal as to not have any visible tape when I look through the cards. The very tiny amount of thickness on the tape also provides a bit of space for each card as well.
Then voila! You have a Cardboard Hog label! And it only took 4 weeks! Just kidding…this is a great Sunday afternoon task if you’re so inclined.
Now that you’ve got the labels ready to go, it’s time to get your cards sleeved and in the boxes. I like to use the 5000 count boxes for this activity since it holds the most amount of cards. It does tend to get a little heavy, but also requires fewer boxes…so, just weigh what you want and need.
Hopefully everyone is doing this, but I just want to remind you that your cards should all be in penny sleeves…that is if you care about them. Especially mid-90’s cards. I’ve lost so many great cards as they’ve turned into bricks. Leaving me with spotted hall of famers and snowy, beautiful cards like this gem. Penny sleeves are cheap…like, a penny…or less if you buy in bulk. Don’t be cheap. Protect your cards!
I like to revisit these boxes every few months just to get an idea of what I have and to add new items. It’s an awesome way to work through your collection and reflect on all the time and money you’ve spend collecting pictures of young men that do sports better than your or i.
It’s also just a great trip down memory lane. These boxes contain cards from my childhood. I’ve had most of them since they came out and when I started collecting back in ’85. That time to sit back and reflect on those simpler times helps me put things back into focus. I tend to get caught up in the worst of the worst of a moment. It’s easy and I’m sure most of us do it. Taking a step back and realizing that all things pass and life keeps moving forward is important and something we should all be doing periodically, no matter your medium. Take the time to tell the people around you how much they mean to you and never be too proud to apologize for things you’ve done and are not proud of. Life is precious and can be great. Taking the time to enjoy small bites of how you got to where you are today are important. Even if it means you painstakingly create a label system that can be solved with an off the shelf solution for a quarter the price and time.
Thank you for reading and hope you have a wonderful day!
One of my all-time favorite MC’s is Pharoahe Monch. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that a few times on here, but it needs to be restated over and over. He’s phenomenal. I first heard him in the group Organized Konfusion. Their first album was excellent and I highly recommend you listen to it, but for me? The second album was beyond amazing STRESS: The Extinction Agenda. Here’s the video.
Wow, super impressed with the time and care you take to do this. My collection is always in disarray, so I appreciate anyone who actually follows through with levels of organization like this.
thanks! much appreciated. i do like to have my organization dialed in. makes it easier for me to find things in the future.
My OCD loves your system. During a normal school year, I’m usually left with some leftover foam board. I’ll have to try this out the next time I grab stuff from my classroom.
that would be awesome, hope you share the images of your work and process. would love to see what you come up with.
Yeah, that totally beats mine. I do have them sorted by player, but the separators are just cut up sheets of thick paper that are tall enough so that I can write the player names on the part that sticks up over the actual cards. Not nearly as professional as your method!
ha! thank you. i was using the plastic ultra pro dividers at first but when i stacked another box on top, they all bent…and it drove me nuts. may not have been as bad if they bent in the same direction, but they all bent differently. just couldn’t handle it.