Sunday, September 13, 2009

What to Do with Kid Art

kids art haning on wall by

By Melisa Coburn

Is your fridge getting too cluttered? We have 14 ideas for what to do with the best artwork your kid brings home.

Regardless of your kid's natural artistic talent, it's likely you'll feel that every finger painting, stick-figure drawing, and macaroni collage he produces is a masterpiece.

But alas, only so many works of art will fit on the front of your fridge. And at this point, there's a mini avalanche every time you reach for the milk. Here, 14 unique alternatives to the cluttered fridge door.

Create an Art Wall
Take a cue from the art classrooms of your elementary school days and hang up a clothesline in a designated "art space" -- fasten it to a wall in the kitchen, her bedroom, or the playroom. Then just attach pieces with a clothespin. Swap in new pictures as quickly as she's able to produce them. (We like this display method because it's budget-friendly and it's aesthetically neutral and will likely fit in with any decor.) For a punch of color, use a colored string of beads or ribbon instead of basic clothesline or twine, and attach drawings with painted clothespins, colored paper clips, or even cute, multicolored kids' barrettes or hair clips.

Turn It into a Postage Stamp

Upload an image and turn it into a totally legit, U.S. Postal Service-approved stamp (scan in the piece of artwork, or take a digital pic of it and upload it from your computer). This is a great way to add a personal touch to any letter or holiday card you send -- and seeing your kid's creation on that stamp will be way more fun than the latest official post office stamp or that boring red flag. We like pictureitpostage.com because you can create oversize stamps (all the better to see the artwork), with lots of options for customizing type color and background. Two printed sheets of 20 stamps are $17.95.

Send It Off to Interested Parties (i.e., the Grandparents)

Grandma complains she doesn't hear from you enough? Let your kid send a missive (kids love to send and receive mail, and Grandma will love getting something so personal). Take your kid's art and glue it to brightly colored construction paper or card stock -- then have him write a personal note to Grandma (or a favorite aunt or uncle) on the back. Now Grandma's got something for her fridge.

Turn It into Holiday Gift Tags

Child labor? In this case, we're all for it. Instead of buying premade packs of gift tags at Target or your local drugstore this year, cut out a bunch yourself in cute shapes at home and then let your kid go to town drawing whatever feels holiday-like to him -- stars, Santa, Rudolph -- on one side. When he's done, he can help you punch holes in one end of the card and slip ribbons through for tying them to the presents.

Or take pieces he's already created and repurpose them into gift tags or homemade birthday cards for relatives.

Treat It Like the Real Thing

Every so often -- maybe once a school year -- when your kid brings home a piece that you feel is really special, spring for professional framing, as you would for "real" artwork or an exceptional vacation photo you love. If your kid's old enough to enjoy the outing, let him come with you to look at frame styles and the various colored matting options so he'll appreciate the process and really "get" what a special occasion it is.

Snaptotes.com lets you create completely original, totally cute bags with photos or art. Choose from totes, handbags, beach bags, and messenger bags -- designs are un-fussy and bags are black so your kid's art will really pop. Consider using your child's piece to create a totally original (and great-looking) alternative to the Dora the Explorer bags tons of kids tote to school.

Turn It into Pop Art

Transform your kid's work of art into a real, Warhol-esque stunner at photowow.com. This works best with a clear, easily recognizable object -- a face, an apple, or a star for example. This site will add bold color and turn it into a multipanel pop-art canvas (a la Warhol's famous images of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor). A four-panel canvas, on which the same image is repeated four times, starts at $90. Each additional image, if you want to mix them, is an extra 30 bucks.

Turn It into Your Kid's Calling Card

Didn't know he needed one? Next time you meet a new kid at school or the playground and you'd like to exchange numbers with the other parent for a playdate, you'll have something preprinted to give out. Put your kid's art on one side and his (and your) contact info on the other -- voila! A cool site, moo.com, lets you create all kinds of fun things -- postcards, sticker books, note cards, and custom "MiniCards" that would make perfect calling cards. They come in a matte laminate finish and are $19.99 for a box of 100.

Turn It into Place Mats

Your fancy tablecloth makes holiday appearances -- but the place mats? Always on the table. Add new ones to the rotation by using your kid's art to create them at snapfish.com. One place mat for $9.99.

Turn It into Playing Cards

Another fun option at snapfish.com? Playing cards -- your kid's artwork gets showcased on one side, and it's a regular deck of cards on the other. The whole family will get a kick out of seeing a cute, original drawing being dealt around the table during the next Go Fish or Crazy Eights marathon. $19.99.

Turn It into a Large Canvas Print

Supersize your kid's art at shutterfly.com. Scan the image, then upload it, and let the print adorn his room in grand fashion. Prints come with gallery-wrapped edges (which look nice and finished), so you can hang the artwork as is, with no frame necessary. The largest size, 24 by 36 inches, is $149.99.

Turn It into Custom Wallpaper

Size is no object at totallycustomwallpaper.com, a site that will take your cool piece of original artwork and turn it into a custom mural or wallpaper in any size you like -- just send them the wall dimensions (and remember that they need a high-resolution digital image for the best results). Got an impressive abstract? This might be a way to display it in a really grand way. Wallpaper is made of a latex-saturated paper stock, with a finish somewhere between matte and gloss. But be forewarned: Because the wall coverings are so oversized, the company recommends that you hire a professional to hang them. Not sure how to do it or what it would look like? Call them up and chat them through what you have in mind -- they've created wallpaper out of original artwork (and drawings and photos and landscapes) before, so chances are good they'll be able to turn your vision into a cool, viable wall hanging. (You can request a custom quote for your project online or by phone.)

Turn It into Jewelry

Transform your kid's doodles into wearable sterling silver or 14K gold jewelry at totallyoutofhand.com, a site run by Lee Skalkos, an artist and self-taught silversmith. She makes custom pins, necklaces, earrings and more -- tell her what you have in mind and she'll work with you. A small silver pendant starts at $95; a small pin starts at $125 (prices for pieces in gold are quoted individually).

Turn It into a Toy

An artist named Lizette Greco takes her own kids' original drawings of animals, houses and, well, pretty much anything else, and turns them into plush, three-dimensional toys crafted from colorful recycled materials. She'll do it with your kid's art, too -- she takes commissions. Prices vary based on size and design, but generally start at $400.

All information is a courtesy of Parents!

1 comment:

  1. Those are some great ideas! I especially like the idea of sending the artwork to Grandma - because my daughter is horrified it ever discard ANY of her artwork.

    Another fun option is the Kea Coloring Book, which lets your kids color in all sorts of pictures, from dinosaurs and cute characters, to famous masterpieces like Mona Lisa.

    You can print at different sizes, which makes it easy to turn the end product into a greeting card.

    Or you can email them, along with a personal message.

    Or you can save them for use in some of the other ways you mentions - e.g. playing cards.

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