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What Do I Do with ALL This Artwork??

By Kay on Fri, Aug 29, 2008

General, House Tips, PreSchoolers

When you live with a budding artist, you live with piles and piles of artwork. And ALL of it is special. And NONE of it can be thrown away. At least, that’s what my 5 year old tells me constantly. And as gung-ho as she is about recycling, I still can’t manage to convince her that we can recycle some of her artwork, too.

So, instead of living with the masses of piles everywhere, I started looking for ideas of what to do with it all to help contain it and keep it from taking over my entire house. I came across several great suggestions like these:

  • Put the artwork into a plastic box that fits under your child’s bed. You can always add more to the box as it starts to build up again. And, you can usually talk your child into culling through the pile that’s been in the box for a while in order to get more of the new stuff in.
  • Get a clean pizza box to store artwork (even some 3D artwork will fit in these). You can even have a box per child per calendar year stored away in a closet somewhere.
  • Take digital pics of the faves and then recycle it all. (Talk about NO clutter!!)
  • Hang them in your playroom or child’s room from a clothes line/string.
  • Then, there’s the ever-present refrigerator door. (Can you find the door or handle behind all those brilliant crayon masterpieces?)

While these are all great solutions and work for some people, the problem I had with most of these was that the artwork was stored away somewhere that no one could see them on a daily basis. Or, if they were on display, there was just TOO much volume of work to keep up with it all on ONE refrigerator door.

So, we decided to do something different. I ran across an article about making a collage of your child’s artwork on a canvas and hanging it in their room. And while the task of putting things on a canvas seemed a little daunting to me, I liked the general idea of being able to put MANY pieces of artwork together into one larger piece of art.

For Christmas, we bought Kate a simple, wood frame from IKEA. We got the poster-sized frame so that we would have plenty of room to display LOTS of artwork. And the great thing about this frame, besides how CHEAP it was, is that it uses plexiglass for the front instead of real glass. SO nice for a little kid’s room where strange things happen to things that can break.

We took that frame, painted it her favorite color, pink, and then added several decorations to it to make it truly hers. She loved getting to personalize it any way that she wanted to with little foam butterflies and wooden letters painted to match her room. And I loved that the whole project, including frame, wooden letters, paint, and foam cut-outs cost less than $10.

Then we took her PILES of artwork and started culling through them all to determine which pieces we absolutely HAD to keep and which we could cut out just a special piece of, and which ones were truly recyclable. (This process, by the way took at least an hour! She comes from a long line of pack-rats, so it was inevitable that it would take forever.)

Once we had the ‘special’ pieces ready, we started to place them on the poster sized paper that was included in the frame. We took special care to cut things out with fun edged scissors, label the things that needed it, and arranging them just right so that nothing was covered up that was really important. Then, we glued it all down. (Quick tip: using liquid glue tends to make the paper wrinkle and even make marker bleed, so we wound up changing to a glue stick half way through the project.) When everything is glued in place, I have Kate take a marker and sign her name and date to the bottom of the collage. I think this will be a fun way to not only keep her artwork from this age, but also get to see a piece of her handwriting, too.

Then, all that’s left to is pop it into the frame (might wait for the glue to dry first, though) and hang it where it can be admired by all. We have Kate’s hung in her bedroom so that everyone visiting her can see all her special pictures. It’s been a great way to personalize her room even more and she loves being able to show off all her artwork to her friends and grandparents.

UPDATE: It’s been a few months since we did the original collage and there have been plenty more ‘special’ pieces of artwork generated in that time frame. So, we bought a piece of posterboard, cut it to size and went about creating a new collage of the current artwork. Once it was done and ready to pop in the frame, we just set the new collage on top of the old one in the frame, sandwiching the old collage between the new one and the backing of the frame, and voila! a new collage for her wall with all her current artwork.

Written by Kay Hesketh - Visit Website

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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Tiffany Says:

    LOVE this idea. We do the under bed box and I get the fun chore of going through and purging it while she’s away at school. I try to purge it 2-3 times per year. Maybe the “really” special pieces can be framed like that. Course, that means she’d have to part with some of her “real” artwork since her walls are full.

  2. kendra Says:

    You can also buy the circular containers and put them in a bin and label them by grade. Then just roll up the art and put it in the tube. They can be decorated to match the room.

  3. Kay Says:

    Tiffany~
    I love the idea of under-bed storage – that’s always been one of my favorites. But, I hate to purge all the artwork myself (although I do sometimes throw stuff away when she isn’t looking – shh don’t tell her!). That’s why we do it together with the intent of framing it all. That way she has more buy-in to the process and can’t complain too badly when she all-of-a-sudden realizes that one of her pictures is ‘missing’. At least then I can say, “Remember? We recycled that one so that you could have enough room for the picture of the pony?” (I know. I’m evil. 🙂

    Kendra~
    Another great storage solution! I love this. We’re giving everyone lots of different ideas to choose from and they can pick which one(s) work best for them! 🙂 Thanks for the idea!

  4. Stacey Says:

    This is a great idea. I decided to take digital pictures of all of my sons’ artwork. I even take pictures of him holding his masterpieces – until he gets tired of being photographed. Then it’s just pics of the art itself. I cut down the 2 ft high stack to less than 1/2 an inch (I kept 4 pieces that were made as keepsakes). Now I can print everything out, organize it by that school week theme and put it in a photo album.

  5. Kay Says:

    Stacey~
    Thanks for another great idea! I particularly like the idea of taking pictures of the ‘artist’ holding their work. Great way to chronicle not only their art, but also their personality! Gotta try this the next time we go through Kate’s collection. And since it’s already overflowing again, we probably need to do it soon.

  6. Elizabeth Says:

    I wanted to comment and thank the author, good stuff

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