Saving and Displaying Kids’ Artwork With Flair

Got a creative kid who practically needs a gallery? Here are some tips on safekeeping and displaying kids' artwork – and turning it from piles into treasures to enjoy.

Displaying kids artwork

Got a creative little Picasso on your hands? Sooner or later you’ll need to look into stashing and managing that collection – and, better yet, displaying kids’ artwork for the family to appreciate.

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.

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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 3D objects,” suggests Kelly Carson of Leonard, an Oakland County mom who’s also worked as a substitute teacher.

“My daughter Megan made a large, stuffed fish and a 3D polar bear diorama,” she recalls, “and I saved the pictures versus the actual large projects.”

With digital technology, pictures can be stored in a computer file, burned on CD, stashed on a USB drive or shared via email and saved to cloud storage space.

Store it

Plastic bags can get you by, but use archival quality storage to preserve artwork for the long run. Kelly Miller, who has worked with the Blick Art Materials store in Royal Oak, suggests clear art sleeves and poly zip envelopes.

To hold different-sized items, try inexpensive artist 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 metro Detroit dad, artist and owner of Synergy Arts 360, believes in displaying kids’ artwork 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 try hanging 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.

This post was originally published in 2009 and is updated regularly.

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