by Crystal Thomas
If you’re proud of your little artists but at a loss when it comes to dealing with the sheer magnitude of their artwork, here are 12 of our favorite ideas for decluttering the fridge, preserving the most cherished works of art, and sharing your children’s masterpieces with family and friends.
Hang up a clothespin art wall
You can make your own clothespin display with simple items from the hardware store, or buy one like this Star Art Cable from Pottery Barn Kids. Hang it anywhere you like: your child’s room, an empty hallway, the kitchen... and rotate the art as often as you like!
Decorate a column
If you have a column in your home, why not make use of it? A four-sided column is perfect for exhibiting the artwork of up to four children, each with his or her own side. To avoid making multiple pushpin holes, consider coating your column with magnetic paint (by using a magnetic latex primer under your paint or mixing in a magnetic paint additive) and attaching art with strong magnets. (Warning: Strong magnets are not recommended for households with toddlers!)
A simple frame can turn scribbles into home décor. These Dynamic Artwork Frames hinge on the side for easy access. You can display one piece of art at a time and hold up to 50 more behind it for later display.
For a more affordable DIY solution, you can buy cheap frames (try the thrift store), remove the glass, arrange the empty frames on a wall, and easily rotate your kids’ art with a simple pushpin.
Save the best in a scrapbook
If your walls have reached capacity but you still have precious artwork that you want to preserve, purchase a simple three-ring binder and some plastic sheet protectors. Have your child decorate the cover, and store the art binder with the rest of your family’s scrapbooks and photo albums, ready for you whenever you want to reminisce.
Create a game
Help your kids exercise their brains by turning their artwork into puzzles. They’ll be proud of both their art and their puzzle skills... and you’ll save money on puzzles! Simply glue a piece of art to a sheet of thin cardboard and cut into an age-appropriate number of shapes. For a double-sided puzzle, recycle the cardboard box from one of your children’s toys to use as your puzzle backing.
Make original (and free!) wrapping paper and cards
If your kids consider themselves muralists, roll large artwork (and coloring pages from oversize coloring books) around a cardboard tube and use it for unique and economical wrapping paper.
Save smaller works of art for homemade cards. Simply fold a page in half, write a greeting on the inside, and use for birthday cards and other special occasions. No more running to the card store at the last minute!
Create a digital display
Displaying your kids’ masterpieces in your Cozi Collage is a great way to make sure they’re seen and appreciated by the whole family. Make sure their artwork is stored in the My Pictures or Shared Pictures folders on your computer, and Cozi will display them. To show only your kids’ art in your collage:
1. From your desktop, right-click any empty space, and then click Properties.
2. Click the Screensaver tab, and then click Settings.
3. Click the Photos tab.
4. On the "Where do you keep your digital photos?" page, click Add Folder, add the folder(s) containing your children’s art, and remove any other selected folders by clearing the check boxes.
Share artwork online with friends and family
The family journal is a perfect tool for sharing your kids’ scanned masterpieces—and the stories that go along with them—with friends and family. Simply click “Jot down a moment,” upload the artwork, and share a story if you wish. From there, it’s simple to share it on your own family web page, via email or a monthly newsletter, or even on Facebook.
Put it in the mail
Courtesy of gordasm
Send some art to the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and any other interested parties. They will cherish it as much as you do and surely give it a place of honor in their homes.
Online photo services, like Shutterfly, provide a huge variety of photo products to choose from, many of which are just as suitable for scanned artwork as they are for photos. You can preserve your children’s creative endeavors indefinitely in custom photo books, mouse pads, calendars, note cards, stickers... the list goes on.
Store and share on a free personal art web site
Although we haven’t found a great website devoted to free online storage of children’s art, numerous sites do offer free online storage and display of art in general. Your kids get their very own online art gallery, and you get an online backup and another way to share their creations with friends and family. We like the simplicity of art-3000.
Purge and store the rest
At some point, we all have to face the fact that we can’t save every single piece of art that our kids create. Once a month or so, go through the piles and choose to let a few go. If there are still more that you can’t bear to throw away and don’t have room to display, store them in plastic bins—one for each year if you’re really organized.
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