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07 Feb, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

Creative storage solutions for mini masterpieces

I used to be compulsive about saving my children’s art and schoolwork, tucking the many, many paintings of dragons and dinosaurs (my son) and flower-filled fields (my daughter) into plastic storage bins. But as the years went by and the stack of bins threatened to take over my life, I became increasingly ruthless about what to keep and what to toss. The reality is that most children produce far more artwork than families can reasonably expect to display or save. Unless you have a plan for handling all these masterpieces, you’ll likely find yourself with piles of papers, sculptures, masks and puppets littering various rooms. Here are some tips for taming the chaos:

Choose wisely.

This is the toughest part, but take a few minutes once a week or every month to select a few outstanding works to display or keep. Do include your kids in this process by asking what work they find meaningful (for example, the first time they succeed in drawing an animal with four legs). Then you can discreetly recycle the rest.

Designate a place for displaying current artwork.

Let each child pick out a favourite drawing and display it, either on the fridge or on a shelf.

Date and label artwork.

You think you’ll never forget the first clay pot that comes home from kindergarten, but five years from now, you’ll be wondering if Suzy did that in preschool, kindergarten or first grade. And if you have more than one child, make sure items have the name of the creator on them.

Think of new uses for artwork.

I’m lucky to have family members who treasure and display my kids’ artwork. A popular gift has been a calendar illustrated with painting and drawings done by my children. Craft stores often sell do-it-yourself calendars with space for artwork in each month. A hook or hanger can transform artwork into an ornament for a holiday tree. If your child is willing (some are not), use a drawing as wrapping paper for a present.

Make a photo record of the artwork.

When kids come home with sculptures or other odd-shaped items, grab your digital camera and take a photo. The item can be displayed for a short time and then recycled, while the photo serves as the permanent record. As well, the photos can easily be stored in a special “art folder” on your home computer or printed and framed for display. You could also create a photo book (local pharmacies offer this service) filled with pictures of the artwork.

Enjoy looking back at past artwork.

During a recent home cleaning-up session, my daughter asked to see some of the artwork from preschool. It was a delightful trip down memory lane — for both us! Don’t wait until your children are grown-up and on their own to revisit their work. They’ll enjoy seeing the progress they’ve made.

Collages preserve children’s art

By Alyssa De Rosa

Local artist Michèle Gravel has struggled with what to do with the artwork produced by her two sons. About four years ago, she hit on the idea of taking some of the pieces and putting them together into a giant collage. From there, she began offering this service to other families through her business Art Collage. Gravel meets with families and examines the various artworks. Parents are encouraged to tell her if they prefer certain colours and shapes, and then Gravel creates a collage. The process usually takes one week and prices range from $400 to $700.

For more information, call (514) 426-5532 or go to www.artcollage.ca.

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