I refuse to display my kids’ art on the fridge. I will not do it. Sorry. I’m not against displaying kids’ art, scribbles and all, but there have to be better places than the fridge. I am blessed with my own Mini-Me, Mila, who sure makes a lot of art (did I mention I’m an art teacher?) Mila is incredibly creative and hard-working. Rarely is she sitting still, watching tv or the iPad like some 5 year olds (and her 3 year old sister). Instead, she can most often be found taking over our dining room table, with papers, markers, pencil crayons, beads, feathers, boxes and anything she finds intriguing (things you and I would call garbage, but she sees the potential damn it!). So when you have a child whose passion is creating, you have to come up with creative ways to display and honour her art, because like I said, the fridge is no place for art.
This summer I redecorated Mila’s room and created a feature wall to house her books and artwork (Bye Bye Baby Rooms, Big Girl Rooms Only). I wanted it to feel like a little gallery just for her work. At Mila’s eye level, I hung four large clips by Umbra to hold paper art. The special “frame” papers are by Melissa and Doug. I love that these papers make any artwork look like a mini-masterpiece. I actually used them for my daughters’ joint birthday party a couple of years ago to create a gallery wall (Celebrating Mila and Marlowe). Mila’s feature wall also has several picture frame shelves that house her book collection, but can also hold canvas frames when she decides to paint a masterpiece. Mila also went through an intense foam art kit phase (thank you Dollarama). Her foam people have a permanent home in The Basement Playroom hanging underneath a shelf using twine and clothes pins.When purchasing these “art” kits from dollar stores and craft stores, I recommend taking the box away and seeing what your child will create without the influence of the prescribed picture of the art. You will see that often the results are so much more interesting and creative. Here are Mila’s take on flowers. Very cubist of her I would say. They are not perfect, but they have personality. Here they are temporarily displayed on a book shelf in the living room, because anything is better than the fridge. Where and how to store art that is no longer on display? Firstly, edit. Just because they made it, doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Ask yourself these questions when deciding what to keep and what to chuck: 1. How much of this work was done by my child and how much by an external source? (an overly helpful teacher, a colouring book design, etc.) 2. What’s the story behind this piece? (Mila and her friend once drew “maps” to each other’s houses so they could arrange a playdate…my heart melted when I realized what they had done.) How many other similar pieces have they created and which ones are the “best?” (Mila did an “Elsa” series at the height of Frozen’s popularity and let me tell you three Elsa’s are a plenty).Once you have edited and edited, I suggest storing work in a presentation folder, these folders can be purchased at art supply stores starting at $5 and they come in a variety of sizes. They are also available at Dollarama for just $2 for 20 pages, so stock up if you have a mini Picasso at home. These presentation folders are usually used by senior students to showcase their portfolios. But why not get one for your child for each school year, label it, and throw in artwork whenever you can, and every few months, edit and insert the work. Mila loves to look at her old folder and realize how much she has improved, and guess what, she appreciates my editing, because she can focus on her most meaningful works. Now, where to place these folders and other larger pieces of art and still remain organized? I am a big fan of reusing store gift boxes, particularly from Anthropologie and Zara. All these boxes need is a little reinforcement with packing tape and ta da, a free memory box to house your child’s creative collection of work (and an excuse for mommy to continue shopping at these stores).These boxes also might be Mila’s favourite thing to receive in the mail (mine too). She often uses them to make doll houses, even adding handles and other fancy additions. No box is safe in our house.
Now, to be honest, every once in a while Mila makes something so special that I break my own rule and accidentally post it on the fridge. I guess I just can’t help it when I see that my mini-me loves creating as much as I do.
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