kiDs aRt ~ What to do?

The kids are back to school.   Every week, their backpacks come home stuffed with their artistic creations. The scribbles get inconspicuously slipped into the recycling bin. But some pieces I just love, either because they’re eye-catching or showcase my child’s unique point of view.   So I want to keep them, but the question is, what to do with these piles of paper?

The first step is to create a sorting system.   Believe me, I am not a super organized mom, but my method is so unfussy, even I can keep up with it. My system consists of dropping this year’s keepers into a portfolio. Each summer, I make a little time to sort through the portfolio from the previous year, preferably at a time when the kids are not around, so they can’t see that I chuck about 50% of what’s in there.   Most of what’s left goes into a labeled folder or box and sits on a high shelf in the closet.   My friend and professional organizer, Carrie Kauffman, of Carrie’s Essential Services, prefers a different method – photographing the pieces and creating an album with them.   My kids’ school photographs the works and posts them on Artsonia.   For me, just storing art electronically would be a loss, since part of what I love about art is the tactile qualities, but it certainly keeps your piles to a minimum.

Not only are there pieces of art I want to keep, there’s always a subset that I also want to see.   If they’re tucked away, I will forget about them; if they’re visible, they will bring me joy.   These pieces can be great ways to fill a wall and add personality to your interiors.  I will be doing a series of blog entries about what you can do to capture your kids’ beautiful masterpieces and show them off in your home.   Look for future installments discussing tools you can use to create a rotating art collection.

For the first installment, I’ll be walking you through the art wall I created in our family room as a semi-permanent (but flexible) decorative element.

First, I identified which pieces of art I wanted to showcase, just so I would know what sized frames to purchase.   This can be approximate, because you can always leave some white space surrounding your art or cut a matte to a custom size.   I find the least expensive places to purchase frames are ACMoore and IKEA.

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Measure the wall that this composition will go on, and then create a layout on the floor for your artwork that will be sure to fit in your given wall space. Measure the overall height and width to be sure.

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If you want to be a true perfectionist about it, you can put your layout on a giant sheet of craft paper, mark the locations of the picture hooks on the paper, tape the paper to the wall, then hammer right through.   Jillian, a designer here at d2e, says, “I put a little toothpaste on a q-tip and then dab it on the back of the picture wherever the nail will go (on a hook, etc). Then hold the picture up against the wall, pressing lightly so the toothpaste leaves a mark on the wall. Then you just position your nail where the toothpaste mark is on the wall and hammer away!”

If you have plaster walls like I do, one trick is to put a piece of tape where you intend to hammer to prevent quite so much crumbling.   Even so, I tend to get freaked out when I hear “crumble crumble crumble” inside my walls, so sometimes I hire the owner of a local frame shop to come and do all the hammering.   Her advice is to start from the inside of the composition and work your way out concentrically.   Seemed to work out pretty well.

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Since that time, two more frames have joined the composition. What’s special about these frames is that they have hinges that swing open and let you swap out the artwork that’s inside even more easily than before.

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If you look at the overall composition, I strived for a mix of orientations (horizontal and vertical) and I mixed in some other elements besides just artwork, such as footprints and a campaign poster from my husband’s late grandfather.

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You can put in anything that has meaning or inspiration.   Below are some links were you can see more ideas for art walls that mix it up a little bit:

This one looks like artwork was mixed with greeting card graphics or postcards:

And this one has artwork juxtaposed with bold textiles:

Go ahead, fill the whole wall. Using every available space adds whimsy, and very much mirrors what kids tend to do when given an empty canvas, whatever the shape:

Next installment: ideas for creating a Rotating art collection.

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