End-of-year art overwhelm: Tips for storing, displaying, and making keepsakes of your child’s art
Another school year has ended, and that means another mound of artwork and school projects has likely landed on the kitchen counter. While it’s fun to look back over the year and see the progression in their work, what on earth are you supposed to do you do with it all?
After you set aside the pieces you want to save (and you do NOT have to save it all), here are some ideas for storing, displaying, and making keepsakes out of your child’s art.
Storing kids' art
For smaller pieces and projects, I like to use binders with clear plastic sleeves. They are easy, affordable, and allow you to slip in a few current photos and other mementos from your child’s life at this time. Depending on how much stuff you have to save, you can create a binder for every year or for a span of years.
Storing larger pieces can be tricky, but here are two easy ideas: an artist’s portfolio case or mailing tube labeled with your child’s name and age or grade.
Displaying kids' art
Showcasing your child’s art is a great way to encourage artistic expression. Many of these ideas make it easy to swap out the actual artwork so you’re already prepared when a new project comes home from school.
1. Make an open-frame gallery. Create a uniform look by choosing or painting frames in a single color or mix it up with a touch of something bold or bright. Simply string wire across the frame (on the inside) and use a clothespin or cute clip to hang the art. It’s easy to rotate in new pieces or create a collage by layering multiple pieces in a single frame.
2. Get clipboard creative. Paint the clipboards in a uniform color to highlight the art or leave them as is for a more funky, crafty look. Most clipboards already come with a hole for hanging, so this creative idea really couldn’t be much easier.
3. Go DIY plastic. The durability, ease, and casual style of these heavy-duty plastic page protectors make them a great way to display art in kids’ rooms. With grommets already in place for hanging and thick, durable plastic that will stand up to little grabby hands, your kids will have a ball creating a dynamic gallery of their favorite work.
4. Scan and shrink. This is a super cute way to create a collection of your little one’s art. And while the end result looks sophisticated, it’s quick and easy to execute. Simply scan artwork using your home scanner and then shrink individual pieces down to a uniform size. Print, position in a large frame, and hang!
5. Show, store, and tell. This idea is both cute and efficient—a winning combo in my book! These Lilian Vernon frames let you store up to 50 pieces and easily rotate your favorites for display.
Turning kids' art into keepsakes
One of my favorite solutions for kids’ artwork is to repurpose paper art projects into gift and household items that can be used around the house. Think placemats, tea towels, and even duvet covers!
Child's Own Studio - What could be cuter than transforming your child’s artwork into a custom, cushy toy! These little guys are such a hot commodity that the manufacturer only takes a limited number of orders at a time. (You can find similar great companies on Etsy, too.)
Starmek Creations - This artist makes adorable, unique jewelry using your child's art as inspiration.
Photo: Starmek Creations
ArtKive - Make any number of cool products (from mugs to books and more) from a photo you snap with your smart phone.
Artsonia - Make books, jewelry, or even a cutting board by uploading artwork to the Artsonia website. Some seriously fun gift ideas!
Plum Print - Submit artwork by mail and receive a beautiful, professional art book in return (along with your originals.)
Finally, get your kids involved in the process. They will likely remember the pride and fun of preserving their creations more than they care about the artwork itself.
I have twin boys, so I know all about end-of-the-year overwhelm. But I also know that a little creative prep pays off. With a few systems in place, my kids get to show off their prized pieces and I get to head into summer with less stress. And if I can do it, you can too!
Sara Eizen is a Seattle-based interior designer and home organizer with a passion for helping busy families reclaim style and space in their homes on any budget. In a bi-weekly column for Seattle's Child, Sara shares creative, fun, affordable tips and tricks for clearing clutter, sprucing up rooms with minimal effort, creating systems that simplify family life, and much more.