Got a creative kid who practically needs a gallery for all those projects? Maybe the crayon drawings are already falling off the refrigerator, the dog’s run off with the pinecone birdfeeder and the mini marshmallow collage is gathering dust – and who knows what else – under your child’s bed. But before you bury your child’s treasured artwork, consider these ideas for organizing and displaying those masterpieces.
Sort and label it. You can’t save every scribble, so sort it on regular basis. Try to involve children in the decision-making process and choose the best pieces. Take a moment to jot down some basics: the child’s name, age or grade and any other significant details to jog memories in the future.
Photograph it. "Take pictures of the artwork, especially bulky 3-D objects," suggests Kelly Carson of Leonard, a substitute teacher and mom of three. "My daughter Megan made a large, stuffed fish and a 3-D polar bear diorama, and I saved the pictures versus the actual large projects." With digital technology, pictures can be stored in a computer file, burned on CD and shared via e-mail – or sites like Kids’ Space.
Store it. Ziploc bags can get you by, but use archival quality storage to preserve artwork for the long run. Kelly Miller with Utrecht Art Supplies in Royal Oak suggests clear art sleeves and poly zip envelopes. To hold different-sized items, try inexpensive artist’s portfolios. Some styles are plastic coated and waterproof. Portable file boxes with hanging folders, or personalized binders with plastic pocket pages, are other options.
Laminate it. Protect your child’s artwork from wear and tear by laminating pieces at a copy center or using laminate sheets at home. Laminated paintings and drawings make great placemats, especially those with holiday themes. Or laminate several pieces and have them spiral-bound into a "coffee table" book.
Frame it. Andrew Drisko, a local dad and owner of Synergy Fine Art Gallery in Berkley, says kids’ art should be displayed throughout the home, not just in their rooms. Choose ready-made frames and matting, or look for unique frames at garage sales and flea markets. Group colorful framed pictures in 3-by-3-inch or 4-by-4-inch grid patterns for an eye-catching display.
Hang it. To plaque-mount, art is laminated to a thin piece of wood with a beveled edge and painted sides. Bulletin boards are another method – or, apply magnetic paint to a wall or piece of plywood to hang up, turning any area into a "refrigerator door." Hang up lightweight art with colorful magnets, or magnet strips attached to the back of laminated pieces. Other "no nails" solutions include securing art between a mat board and thin foam board backing. Or hang clothesline or wire between hooks on the wall of your child’s bedroom, attaching images with clothespins or metal clips.
Give it. Children’s original artwork also makes great keepsake gifts. Send it in a photo envelope, once a month and on special occasions, to relatives. Scanned artwork also can be used to make note cards and stationery, or printed on fabric and incorporated into a quilt. Color photocopies can be fashioned into a one-of-a-kind calendar.
No matter what method you choose, your child will benefit from the attention given to his or her creative efforts. And with an organized collection, you can share precious memories for years to come!