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Raising Lexington: Is Little Picasso Cluttering Up Your House?

As the school year comes to an end, a seemingly endless amount of artwork comes home to fill up your house.

Do you remember the first time your child drew something even remotely resembling something?

I bet nobody else had any idea what it was but you and your child. It was a fun little milestone wasn’t it? Fast forward three years and the stuff is taking over your house.

I do my best to sort through the “art,” but two Home Depot bins later and I am running out of space and excuses for “lost” “art." I mean, really, are we supposed to keep every last piece?

Finally I hit my limit and started going through all of the “art” when the kids were at school. Don’t judge me -- but I threw away the things that weren’t memorable.

Yes, I threw them away. And I feel better just admitting it.

I was caught only once, and my appalled response at the mere notion that a piece of my child’s art could end up in the trash can was positively Oscar-worthy. Next time, I buried the discarded item under things I was sure no child would rummage through. Then I started to think about all of the art work I did save and did cherish. I could just leave it in those huge child-sized bins or I could get creative and have some fun with it.

My first idea was to take all of those rectangular-shaped masterpieces (this seems to be a favorite shape in the art teacher world), laminate them and use them for placemats. The kids went wild for this. My daughter did monthly calendars this year in school and I have to say I really liked them all. I also fell in love with the self-portraits and family pictures.

That’s a lot of placemats you say? Guess what is going on the family trip this July? Kid-made placemats for Grandma and Grandpa!

Then there are the pieces that are just too precious to eat on. Frame it! I got this idea from a picture my older brother did when he was maybe 8 years-old. It was of my dad, and it was hilarious. My parents found it well into his adult years, framed it and hung it in my dad’s office. Everyone loved it, especially my dad and my brother. After my dad’s death, my mom shipped it to my brother where it lives on.

I have seen people use box frames, handmade frames and even very elegant frames to take a cherished piece of art from a child to another level. I framed a self-portrait my daughter did this year that was just too precious to keep in a bin.

That’s a lot of frames you say? Guess what is going on the family trip this Jul? Framed kid-created art for Auntie Sue and Uncle Tom!  

And for you tech savvy parents you can always take a picture of said art and upload it to Snapfish or Shutterfly and then you can share the albums a couple times a year with family. You can also make albums in Flickr and Facebook (which is what I used for a while). A really cool place I found is www.diy.org. This is a place for kids to collect and share all the things they create.

Lastly, I stumbled upon two really amazing websites that take your child’s art to a whole new level. Childsown.com and formiadesign.com are really worth looking into. They both can take your child’s art and turn it into a lasting keepsake. Childsown can take a picture and make it into a “softie,” which is their version of a stuffed animal. Formiadesign can take a child’s drawing and turn it into jewelry.

I saw so very cute sketches by obviously young kids and the designer turned them into gold or silver key chains. Now that’s a piece of your child’s art that wont be forgotten.

Now that I have inspired myself to get in gear and sort, toss and create with my kids' artwork, my house will be a place of Zen and not a place of clutter.

Denise J. Dubé June 12, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Audra, what a great column. My house walls sport framed and "original" pieces from all three of my adult children. Yes, I too have the bins and wish your column had come out about two dozen years ago. Everyone we know would be using laminated art place mats. Now maybe you can help me out with another collectible problem. Every year I bought my children's class pictures. Grammies and Grampies all received copies, but there are still envelopes filled with those photos. Maybe a collage of the children through the years -- as place mats? Help!
Denise Fernandez June 12, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Ok this pack rat needed this article!!! Thank you!! Awesome!!!
Monica Stone June 13, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Great ideas Audra! We are not quite there yet with bins of artwork, but I know it is only a matter of time. Since I detest clutter I will bookmark this article! Here are a few other ideas I read about recently when I was trying to find a site that would take the digital scans of the artwork, miniaturize them and put them into a single large collage print that can be framed. I saw it on one of those home improvement shows but so far have been unsuccessful in finding the site. Oh well...did find a few other ideas though. You can make artwork into a stamp which might be fun to use over the holidays. http://pictureitpostage.com/ or make a fun tote bag http://www.snaptotes.com/.
Heather O'Neil June 20, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Great ideas! Did you read the survey about parents feeling guilty about throwing their kids’ drawings away? Here are some more ideas for storing, displaying and making keepsakes from kids’ art. http://www.happydoodles.com/blogs/news/6041344-63-of-parents-feel-guilty-about-ditching-kids-artwork
Stephanie June 20, 2012 at 05:08 PM
My husband and I just moved to Lexington in May so I've been on the Patch a bit and saw this post :) I actually have a store on Etsy and make archival quality posters with kids artwork (and provide a CD with their scanned art): https://www.etsy.com/listing/97712508/childs-art-poster I would be happy to help anyone in town who wanted to have something like this created!

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