Kids’ Art: Display It, Save It, Toss It
Have a prolific painter? Here’s what to do with all of the masterpieces.
By: Andrea Mulder-Slater
Kids Art – Display It, Save It, Toss It
Before the Internet, parents didn’t save their kids’ artwork. I know this to be true because I asked people.
Case in point, all that remains of my many (many) childhood creations is a folded sheet of manila paper depicting a tree in four seasons, a crayon drawing of my mother wearing a triangle-shaped dress, a stapled construction paper booklet filled with dinosaur pictures, a Grade one primary printing workbook, and a highly inaccurate 3rd grade science fair project about Monarch butterflies.
By comparison, a number of my friends and I currently have several boxes – big boxes – full of our kid’s scribbles, scrawls, dabs, splats and doodles sitting in our basements.
What I’m trying to say is, many of us are driving full-speed into Hoarders territory and so, the other day I asked my prolific mini-master how she would feel about me “recycling” some of her artistic inventions.
She protested, because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
When I dug deeper, it became clear that getting rid of my daughter’s childhood creations was not a problem – as long as we kept some pieces and took photos of the rest.
Here’s the thing. It’s incredibly important that kids know that their artwork is valued because it shows them just how important their ideas and expressions really are. And while it could be argued that de-cluttering and recycling paperwork can be good for the soul, tossing your youngster’s art (without giving it the attention it deserves) can actually do a lot of damage.
So… here’s what to do before clearing out precious art projects.
DISPLAY YOUR KIDS’ ART
Kids are proud of what they create, so before you put it away, put it on display with the help of these clever ideas.
A clothespin gallery is pretty straight forward and super easy to make which is why we have several in our house. To make one, clear some wall space (we use the hallway between my daughter’s bedroom and the bathroom), screw two cup hooks into the wall, run some string between them and use clothespins to hang the art. No framing required.
If you prefer something a little fancier, here are five variations you can make or buy.
1) Dress up your walls with one of these cute themed hanging systems from Maple Shade Kids. ( Maple Shade Kids, Etsy)
2) For something more substantial, you might consider a wood and heavy clip system. Even clipboards hanging on the wall would do the trick. (EarlyAmericanShop, Etsy)
3) If you’re short on time, just grab some pant or skirt hangers to create an instant gallery wall, like this one made by Kelly at Be A Fun Mum. (Be A Fun Mum)
4) Have a strip of wood, a handful of clothespins and some paint? Then you can make this tidy hanging system. (Crafting and Creativity)
5) If you have the time and inclination, this rustic looking piece would work well in a den. Find instructions on how to make your own. (girl. Inspired.)
There are some really fantastic framing systems available that make it easy to swap out children’s artwork. I love Li’l Davinci picture frames from Dynamic Frames. They have hinged doors that open from the front so you can rotate artwork as quickly as your kiddo churns it out and each frame stores up to fifty masterpieces.
Images: Dynamic Frames
WALLPAPER AND DECALS
Be bold and transform your walls into colourful art galleries with these two nifty products.
1 & 2) This interactive wallpaper by Taylor and Wood is guaranteed to make any child squeal with joy because it is an open invitation to draw all over the walls. Or, you might choose to tape existing artwork inside the frames. Either way, awesome. (Graham and Brown).
3) If you prefer something a little less permanent, these removable decals by Simple Shapes might be right up your alley. (Simple Shapes, Etsy)
SAVE YOUR KIDS’ ART
You should really keep at least a handful of items made by little hands, so your kids can look back and say, “Wow, I did that when I was five? I was amazing.”
BOX IT UP
Professional organizers will cringe at the following sentences. If you want to save your kids’ art, throw it in a box and depending on where you will be storing your treasures, you may want to invest in some pretty containers. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll toss the pictures in whatever you have handy and throw it in the basement.
As long as you have a bunch of artwork that’s roughly the same size, you can take a stack of it to your nearest Staples – or any office or copy shop – and have the bundle bound in a coil book. At just over $6.00 per book, the price is right.
SEND IT AWAY (and get it back)
If condensing a year’s work of artwork into one easy-to-view book sounds nice to you, consider this: You can ship your child’s art to Plum Print and in return, they will send back a beautiful, full colour soft or hard covered volume (as well as the original artwork, if you make a request). If this was available years ago, I would still have a complete record of my childhood dinosaur drawings. Just sayin’.
Images: Plum Print
EAT OFF OF IT
Using self-seal laminating sheets (or the laminating machine at your neighbourhood stationary store), you can transform paintings into placemats.
TOSS AWAY YOUR KIDS ART (but first…)
Always, always, always talk to your kids before tossing away the things they’ve made and include them in the purging process. Unless they disagree with you, then pitch the paintings behind closed doors.
But, before you get rid of it, snap a photo. And then…
There are lots of options available when it comes to turning your photographs into keepsakes. Here are a few of my favourites.
1) At LillyPopArt, you can buy personalized gifts and home decor featuring your child’s (digitally enhanced) artwork. I really like the idea of this blanket. (LillyPopArt)
2) An iPad case with kids’ art makes sense when you consider that most iPads are used by the youngest members of the household. Am I right? (Shutterfly).
3) Pillows with child-made creations? Yes please! (Shutterfly).
In case you missed it, I reviewed six art storage apps (so you don’t have to). Included in most of the apps are opportunities to turn your children’s works of art into mugs, clocks, note cards and wrapping paper.
And with that, I’m off to purge…