A reader and good friend Liz asked me a really good question the other day and I thought I would respond to it in a post. The question was:
"What do you do with all their "projects" when they are done. Sure you display it for a time, but then what? Do you throw them out? I am terrible at keeping everything and feel guilty when I do throw things away. And I have binders upon binders of papers to show for it (and he's only in Kindergarten!) I finally mustered up the 'courage' to rid myself of some of his projects, but again feel bad about it. What is the "appropriate" way of handling our kids' work?"
How to Store Art:
Obviously this is something that every persons answer may differ on. As I have mentioned before, I have been reading a book called "Young at Art" by Susan Striker. I am really enjoying her take on teaching children through art. In one section of her book she says not to throw away any of your children's art work. She states that throwing it away is like saying to the child, "this was so good it belongs in the trash." She suggests buying an art portfolio every year and storing children's art work in it throughout the year chronologically. I love this idea. I am not sure why I haven't thought of it before. I had one myself when I was involved in lots of art producing before I was married and I have carried it with me through life. From time to time I myself enjoy looking through the past artwork that I once was able to produce. Here are some art portfolios I found to be a good price as well as nice for kids:
I like this My Timeless Treasures because it is made for children and has tabs to sort the artwork. You could sort by month, year, or type of art.
This case by Alex toys doesn't have the files as the one above, but I like it a bit more because it is made out of plastic instead of cardboard which will help protect the artwork a bit better.
Thisart portfolio is similar to the one that I have. It is waterproof and at a better price than other "professional" portfolios on the market. This is nice if your child creates artwork on canvases that are over 14x18 inches. At Blink Art it is about $14.00.
As for me, I am not good at keeping and saving things. I hate clutter, live in a small home and feel the need to get rid of things often. I take pictures of my kids artwork and keep the pictures in files on my computer. I only keep the things that I really love and want to save forever. I don't think I have much of my artwork from when I was a child. I don't even think this is my mother's fault. I think over the years I have sorted and thrown out things that I don't care for and I am down to having only a couple things. I don't think there is anything wrong with this. My children never see me throw out their artwork. They don't ever ask me where things they have created are and I don't necessarily agree with Susan Striker that every single piece of artwork must be saved. As my children get older and older I will let them decide what to keep and what to throw away. Susan Striker said that one of her students in her art class told her that she could keep all the students artwork because her mother would just throw it away. If a child is a upper elementary school age, they should decide what they want to have forever and what they don't care to have. Art is about the process and not always the product. I feel that most children don't really care if every art piece they create is saved or not.
How to Display Art:
I am planning on making coffee table books of the art each child has made through their life especially since I have most of their artwork stored as digital files. I like using the service through blurb, but I started a book for my son and found it was getting expensive ( $85 a book!) There are always deals going on through snapfish or shutterfly. Check out retail me not before you buy to see what deals are going on. You could make a book each year or one every five years or just one when they finally leave the home. I think it would be much more of a treasure than having to sort through all the art work in a portfolio. This book is from inkubook.com.
Stapfish and Shutterfly also have lots of other things you can make from your digital files. Coffee mugs, tee shirts, posters, calendars, magnets, cards, puzzles, stamps, and on and on. A child would really feel loved to see their artwork on things like these.
Turn a years worth of great artwork into a beautiful collage like this one at buttons by Lou Lou. She also has several other ideas on her blog for displaying children's artwork and well worth a look.
These Li'l Davinci Kid's art Frames are so nice for easily being able to change and display the art work from your kids. I have to buy one today!
Ohdeedoh always has fantastic ideas. I have always loved artwork hung in this way.
Susan Striker said she often made her sons artwork into pendants like these from Sissy's Art. How cool would it be to make something similar to this for the Christmas tree every year. You could just keep adding more and more ornaments that show things your child did that year in miniature ornament fun!
What are some of the things you all do to store and display your children's art?