How we remember and repurpose children’s artwork

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As of now, we only have one real child-artist in the family. Brody is just starting to scratch the surface (literally!) of artwork, and Hallee has yet to touch a crayon, but Gigi… boy, does Gigi produce. Between preschool masterpieces, her Sunday school and Community Bible Study take-home coloring pages/crafts, and spontaneous artwork done at home, we are full to the brim.

We employ a few common techniques for perserving the best artwork without getting buried alive under all the paper, but we also try to repurpose some of it as well.

Read on to see what works for us, and to see my current favorite way to repurpose several pieces of art.

Simplify what is saved

Much of our artwork gets recycled after it has lived its brief life of fame. Here’s a few other ways we remember or “use” Gigi’s artwork.

  • Save a few favorites in a portfolio- I have a couple of relatively flat boxes from Ikea for each of the kids. I plan to save a couple pieces of the best of the best per year for each kid in these boxes (thanks to Tsh for this idea!).
  • Photograph artwork- Photographing artwork is such a great way to preserve it without actually keeping it (another great idea from Tsh!). I import my kids’ artwork photos into an Evernote notebook for safe keeping (see photo at top of post). This is a great way to preserve received artwork/cards as well! Then I recycle it or…
  • Hang it up- A few prized pieces hang in our playroom and we have a magnetic plastic frame on our fridge that gets updated at least weekly with the latest take-home Bible verse coloring sheet.
  • Gift it- Gigi loves to give away artwork. Grandparents, friends, you name it. When she creates art at home it almost always has a designated recipient, probably because she knows we won’t have anywhere at home to keep it!

Repurpose art into something new

What about the creations we don’t save, hang or give away? Sometimes, we can find a creative way to give new life to artwork that is otherwise destined for the recycle bin.

Of course, there is the old stand-by of wrapping gifts with artwork. I love this. I can’t remember the last time I bought wrapping paper, because I have a very eager artist ready to make a custom version instead. We always have white paper bags that Gigi brings home from Community Bible Study each week, that make a great palate for painting or decorating and then get reused as a gift bag.

Don’t be afraid to cut it up!

My inspriation from writing this post actually came from a beautiful piece of artwork Gigi’s preschool class made. The crunchy mama in me smiled with delight when her teacher told me the idea was actually my daughter’s!

Here’s how to make a beautiful piece of art similar to this one. 

  1. Collect various paintings, drawings etc.
  2. Have child (or mom) cut out shapes from each piece of art.
  3. Paint/decorate a canvas or large piece of paper/cardboard/etc.
  4. Glue down cutouts from various pieces of art to canvas.
  5. If so desired, modge podge over the whole thing to seal it.
  6. Enjoy a new, unique piece of art worthy of a frame or place of honor on the wall, that showcases several of your child’s smaller masterpieces.

What’s your favorite way to remember and/or repurpose children’s artwork?

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About Nicole

Nicole can be found blogging at her lifestyle blog GidgetGoesHome.com, and is the editor of Simple Homemade. She loves to read, sew, make ice cream, take pictures, watch baseball and go for walks by the beach with her hubby and three little kiddos. She loves anything handmade and is affectionately known as a bit of a hippie among family and friends.

Comments

  1. Great tips! We do a lot of the same things.

    Since we live half-way around the world from family and some friends I take lots of pictures of their artwork and post them on my boys blog. This cuts down on a lot of clutter.

    We also recycle some art to use for other are. My 3-year-old loves to cut and glue so he’ll do something similar to Gigi’s recycled art, but just use a glue stick and another piece of paper. It keeps him busy for a long time without using up a lot of new art supplies.

    Also we can’t really find construction paper here and wrapping paper is expensive, so we’ll definitely recycle heavily colored or painted papers for one of these uses whenever possible.

  2. I think the picture of art idea is great. I really need to do that. My almost 4 year old will make approximately 20 drawings everyday…on different paper. So recycling the art is also a great idea. I am trying to get her to use both sides of the paper, which she is pretty good at. But, she loves to have fresh paper available to her. I think I need to get an ipad just so she can draw on a computer instead of on paper!

    • Yeah, my daughter prefers “fresh paper” too, as much as i try to get her use the backs! One thing that helped when she was younger was giving her a spiral art book that she could use – that helped with all the loose papers!

      Do you know of any good iPad drawing apps? That’s a good idea!

  3. The picture taking idea is a great one. Thanks!

  4. I love the gift wrap idea. And your daughter is SO cute! :)

  5. I really love the balloon artwork! And it’s amazing that your daughter came up with that. :)

  6. These are such creative and unique ideas. I have found an interior designer’s blog that has some great ideas for displaying children’s artwork in the home: http://jordanguidedesign.com/blog/Interior%20Design/childrens-artwork-display-ideas/

    Another solution – my company, Plum Print, will take your stacks of artwork, professionally digitize it all and create an elegant coffee-table book as a keepsake for years to come. Come visit us if you’re interested! http://www.plumprint.com

  7. I love how they are saved in Evernote too. How do you decide what the “Best of the Best” are?

    • Basically just ones I know she spent a lot of time on, really showcase her current abilities or ones that I just really like. It’s totally subjective, of course. :)

  8. I am loving these ideas- I’ve been able (with permission!) to cut artwork into strips to make Advent chains

  9. I love all this artwork! You have some awesome ideas here.

    I never thought to cut up pictures or paintings to create new ones (except for making cards out of them). That piece of art at the end is great. Gigi is a smart cookie.

    My kids produce a lot of artwork and I struggle with what to do with it. I like to keep so much of it because it is so cute! I do scan some of it and the kids think it’s fun to look at their stuff on a computer screen.

    I’m planning to use one of the 40 or 50% off coupons at Micheal’s and buy a nice portfolio book to keep some of the special things in.

    I also love framing their art. I think it makes them feel very special, too.

  10. This is a great help… I am going through 28 years of kids’ artwork now and I must make it all smaller but keep the memories… photos is a great idea!

  11. We scan our favorites onto the computer. It is so fun to watch a slideshow of the kids art.

  12. Lots of great ideas! And adorable pictures of Gigi. :) I have just recently started scanning the pieces of art that are “keepers” and tossing the originals. I’m planning to do something with the scans at some point but not exactly sure what! I love the idea of making a new piece of art from the old ones. Thanks!

  13. I love this post! Simplify and sentimental- the two sides of me that is hard to find a balance between them. I love the idea of framing some art, and scanning a lot of it. I know I’ll be referring to these ideas in the future, my daughter is just starting to color and write on everything, walls included! =)

  14. I love these ideas! My toddler is now getting into painting and stickers, and while in the past I just threw them away, I figured I should save some. I was thinking of making a portfolio of all the paintings since the papers are all the same size. I wanted to have them spiral bound into a notebook.

  15. Love the ideas. Every year (or few months depending on how much art there is) we make a ‘portfolio’ out of two large poster boards, staple or tie them together and pick out the art we like best and then we have that years art all in one place. And it is great for all the art that is bigger than an 8x 11.

  16. We used the recycled-art idea for Valentines last year and they turned out great!

    http://greenaroundtheedges.net/2011/02/recycled-art-valentines/

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