Welcome Back everyone!
This is one of my last posts in my "Back-To-School for Mom" #BTS4MOM series with Target® and Target Inner Circle. If you've been following along, so far we've covered Must Have Tech Tools, Making a Creative Command Center, and Creating With Printables. Today we are going to talk about Organizing and Archiving Kids Artwork and my last post will be about exploring third-party printing and Target® Photo Center.
This past week was a big one for our little family, as we finally sent Maggie off to her first day of Pre-School. Mommy was a bit emotional, Maggie was ready and raring to go! It has been more of an adjustment for me, I think, than it has been for her. She gets to spend all day learning and playing with other kids and having a ball, and I am home in the peace and quiet, where- to be honest- I find it a bit hard to stay awake. :D
When I surveyed my Mom friends about the areas they needed help with as part of the #BTS4MOM series, one ongoing project popped up with just about everyone: What to do with all the artwork and little projects that our kids bring home from school? I thought today would be a great day to review some options.
Step One: ORGANIZING
I have a box in our hall closet filled with artwork and keepsakes Maggie has made over the years. For now, because she's just starting Montessori school, I haven't felt a huge push to get her creations cataloged or purged, mostly because I only have one box full. However, I know the day is coming soon, so I researched a few ideas.
First, I do think it can be challenging at times to find ways to hang kids artworks in our homes that blend with our surroundings while still highlighting the pride you and your child feel about their work. For some, it's as simple as slapping it up on the fridge with a magnet. But, if you're like me (above), that fridge can get cluttered pretty quick. So, I looked to Pinterest to find some practical ideas that can replace the fridge gallery, and here are my favorites:
- Simple Clipboard Display //Ashley Ann Photography // I am a big fan of simple. I love this idea as a quick way to set up a display for kids artwork. You can leave the clipboards plain, like this example here, or you could paint them in a bright color, or cover them with fabric or scrapbook paper.
- Curtain Rod + Clips // I Heart Organizing // This is another great idea, and I've seen a lot of different takes on this- but the use of small cafe rods and curtain clips is so smart. It's easy to find rods like these nearly anywhere and the end result looks sophisticated. I used a hanging display similar to this over the window when Maggie and I had a shared office/playroom.
- Chevron Painted Clip Frame // One Krieger Chick // I think this is so cute! I love the shaped frame and the pattern, and think it looks perfect grouped with other art on a wall.
- Chicken Wire Wall Display // Slightly Cosmopolitan // Pure genius! I saw this and immediately started looking around the house for a place to put something like this up. If you don't have a big wall like this, you could add the chicken wire behind a wooden picture frame for a smaller version. Depending on the frame, you could make it look really modern or vintage and rustic.
- Tall Deskside Pinboard // Cupcakes For Breakfast // If you have a home office area, or a desk for your Creative Command Center, I love the idea of a nice tall bulletin board like this one. I can just imagine my daughter craning her neck to look up and see her art hanging up high and feeling so proud.
- Shrink Art Frame Display // Tampa Bay Times (AP) // This is a great idea too! You can photograph your favorites and upload them to PicMonkey and make a collage, then print it onto card stock and mount inside a frame. This would be a GREAT gift idea for grandparents, especially with a little photo of your child included in the collage.
Display areas like these work best in partnership with another system, like the file box that I use. You can rotate artwork out as new projects come in, keeping an upper hand on clutter. One Mom in my survey has a great system that she uses for multiple kids: Each of her children has a big plastic art bin that she keeps in the garage. As their projects come in, they are dated and labeled, and filed away until the end of each school year. Then, she sits down with each kid to review what they would like to keep and what can be tossed; that helps keep the amount of art in check, while making sure favorite projects are kept and cared for.
Step Two: ARCHIVING
When it comes to saving these treasured collections, I am a big fan of making art books; they are organized, compact, and there are a lot of different ways to customize them to your child and personality of your family. Here are some of my favorite types of books and archiving ideas:
Photo by Liz Tamanaha for Paislee Press
An 8"x 8" 20-page Hard Cover book starts at about $24.00, which is a great price! This photo book was specially designed to... " let your child's artwork take center stage...feature a picture of your creative child in action and include an artist bio next to a gallery of their most inspired work. Use specially designed pages to trace handprints or add more art to this very special photo book AFTER it's been received."
There are a few ways you can digitize the artwork your kids bring home. One of the easiest ways I've found is to simply purchase a large white art canvas from the art supply store (like this one here) and use it as a background for photographing each piece. You can use your stand alone camera, or camera on your smart-phone. I like this process, because it's easy to whip through all the photography, and quickly upload it to your computer for editing. I like to use Adobe Lightroom for quick editing, because I can edit one photo to the exposure, color, saturation and sharpness that I prefer, and then quickly "sync" those same edits to all the photos with one click. If you don't want to invest in Adobe software, you can always edit the photos using the editor in PicMonkey, or make minor edits in the Shutterfly uploading process.
If you'd rather not go through the photography process, you can scan the artwork into your computer using a scanner. The HP Photosmart 5520 printer has a great scanner that is easy to use. There are disadvantages to doing it this way; it is much more time consuming, and you'll still have to use the camera to photograph lumpy or three-dimensional projects. The upside is that you don't have to worry about lighting or whether or not your photos are in focus.
Once you have your favorites uploaded into your computer, you have more options for creating and sharing. You can make the miniature gallery frame like the one above in the art display round up, you can print a favorite drawing onto an iron-on and make a custom t-shirt, or print some drawings onto card stock to make quick cards to send to grandparents.
Another digital photo book option is through an app via your iPhone or Android, called Artkive. I personally haven't tried Artkive, but it also looks like a great product. The basic idea is that you simply photograph each piece using the camera inside the app, tagging the photo with your child's grade and/or date the art was made, and when you're happy with the amount of art uploaded, you can print the book.
According to the website, an 8"x 8" book is also approximately $24.00. This seems like the faster of the two photo books, but it doesn't offer the same level of customization and whimsy as the Shutterfly one, which might be an important consideration for those enjoying the book in future years. Also, there isn't any image editing option, so if crisp, clear photos are important, you'd have the additional step of using a photo editing app before uploading to Artkive.
If all that digitizing is making your head spin, I'm always a fan of hands-on projects. For a custom design, I suggest putting together a folder of artwork using pocket pages and envelopes like those found in the line of Project Life supplies,
Project Life is a fantastic memory keeping system that incorporates simple pockets for photographs and other papers and small items that can be mixed and matched and moved around in a large 3-ring album. There are also notecard sets with different themes that fit the pockets, and there are countless designers that make Project Life compatible printables (myself included) that you can add to your albums. It's foolproof; and for art archiving, I love that you can throw the art pieces into the album and go back later and add photos of your kids or class pictures, ribbons, etc., when you have time; which could be at the end of each school year, if you really want to keep it simple!
And last but definitely not least, do what my Mom did: buy an adorable pre-made memory book, like this one by Illustrator Stephan Britt from Chronicle Books.
You can't get any faster or simpler than this, folks! By the time I finished Elementary School, mine was bursting at the seams; full of art projects, homework, class photos, report cards, you name it! It wasn't nearly as cute as this version, but it did the job, and it's a great and practical option if this is the process you want to follow for archiving your child's artwork.
I hope that gives you a few ideas and helpful resources to make the art collecting and archiving a bit easier. I would love to hear any other ideas you might have or other apps or suggestions, so please feel free to leave a comment to continue the discussion. Did your family save your art from childhood? Is it something you share with your children?
Last but not least, I'm excited to share that we have a winner for the $200 Target® Gift Card drawing. The contest closed on Friday at 1pm PST, and the winner in the drawing is:
Congratulations Anika! You were commenter number 45, and the $200 Target® Gift Card is all yours! Thank you so much to everyone who entered, I wish I could send you all a prize. If you didn't win, don't forget to check back for my last #BTS4MOM post later this week to enter another drawing for some goodies I designed using Target® Photo Center, and readers will also get an exclusive discount code as well!
Full Disclosure: I am a member of the Target® Inner Circle, all opinions expressed are my own. I was provided a gift card to purchase some of the items used in this series, however I have also contributed my own resources and time. Affiliate links are used for items that can be purchased online