“Mama, why is my drawing in the garbage?” Violet pouted from behind hurt eyes, her little toddler hand clutched around a scribbled-on piece of ripped-out notebook paper.
“Oh, whoops! I’m sure it was an accident,” I stammered, feigning surprise.
If you have a kid in preschool, you can probably relate to this story. Sure, that first time you peek in their cubby and find a folded-up masterpiece of brushstrokes, your heart bursts with pride. Then, the next day, you find three new abstract works. Before you know it, your dining room table is covered in multiple stacks of art and it’s barely October.
Fact: The volume of preschool artwork is a legit parenting challenge.
Today, I’d like to talk about a fun way to display your kids’ art. Storing your kids’ art is another topic entirely.
In my experience, toddler art falls into three categories — the Good, the Bad, and the Funny.
The Good means straight-up decent stuff, like this Halloween-themed gem. Super cute, right?
The Good also includes the ones that don’t seem like much at first glance, but upon closer inspection, you realize they are extraordinary. (Mind you, they will only be extraordinary to you, the parent of the particular pint-sized Picasso. Regular people will shrug and roll their eyes.)
Here’s a perfect example from Violet’s collection. To the average Joe, this is a bunch of colors on a torn piece of paper, big whoop. But to Mom and Dad, this is a gorgeous rainbow, with each color exactly where it should be. Hello, your kid is clearly a genius.
Next, we have the Bad. This, my friends, will be going in the garbage. I’ll just make sure I don’t get caught this time.
Last but not least, the Funny. Usually, this is an unremarkable piece that incorporates an unintentionally hilarious component. Again, this is likely only funny to the parent. For this “summer vacation” drawing, most of the kids boasted about trips to the beach, camping weekends, and swimming pool adventures. Apparently, my daughter was not impressed with her summer activities.
At first, I started taping up the Good and the Funny wherever I could find room in my kitchen, but it didn’t take long to run out of room.
As I stood there trying to find a spot for Violet’s “Square Collage,” my eyes landed on the far wall of my kitchen directly behind the table, completely kid-art-free, just four simple neutral frames hanging on the pear-green paint.
So I decided to attempt a clothesline of sorts to hang Violet’s artwork, as well as my 18-month-old’s artistic attempts.
I’m usually a Pinterest fail type of person, but this do-it-yourself art display project was tough to mess up. Here’s what you’ll need: a hammer, six nails, some sort of string, a decorative touch to hide the nails (I went with burlap flowers), and clothespins. The best part about this project was the cost, both financially and emotionally. Total investment: $7.50. Total time: 15 minutes.
I hit up A.C. Moore for my supplies, which I think is a magical place because, without fail, I always pay less when I reach the cash register than I calculated as I tossed goodies into my cart. In this case, I failed to notice that my burlap blossoms were half off, so they cost $2 instead of $4. But, even at full price, this project still cost less than $10.
Most people recommend picture wire or vinyl coated wire, but I was drawn to the more natural hemp cord (hey, it’s Vermont, right), which rang in at $1.49. Last but not least, the clothespins were $2 for 15, so I bought two packages. I went with the neutral brown; I believe the more colorful clothespin choices were slightly more expensive.
My original plan was to crazy-glue the burlap flowers to the teeny-weeny heads of the nails. Luckily, I foresaw this was a terrible idea and immediately went to plan B: just sticking the nail right through the flowers, because duh.
Normally, I would have measured everything out perfectly, but I really wanted to bang this project out before my younger daughter Sabine woke up from her nap, so I just started hammering away and hoping for the best. I HIGHLY recommend this approach, way less stressful.
I started by hammering the nails with the flowers attached into the wall, three in a row, roughly six feet apart. I left a little room between the wall and the flower to get the string around each nail. I started at one end and tied the hemp around, pulled it to the next flower and looped it around once, then finished off by tying it to the last flowered nail. I pulled the hemp fairly taut; the weight of the art will give it that bit of natural sag.
Leaving enough space for an 11-by-17 sheet to hang down, I started the bottom line by placing the middle nail first, directly under the middle nail of the top line. I then decided to make the bottom line wider than the top one, mostly because it would be more forgiving that way as far as making it exactly symmetrical.
Finally, the fun part — hanging the art! I let Violet choose which pieces to put up where. I plan on rolling up the rest of her drawings and paintings and storing them in a poster tube at the end of the school year.