Something to do with Kids’ Art Besides Hanging It On The Refrigerator or Throwing It Out
The New York Times just ran a big story about a major parental dilemma: do you save or toss the art your child makes? I do both. I also have one trick up my sleeve when it comes to kids’ art. I’ve written it up in case you are interested in trying it yourself.
But, here’s a quick quiz before we begin: Do you consider yourself “crafty”? Do you subscribe to any publication with the words “Martha Stewart” on its cover? Do you know how to make sushi out of fruit? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, don’t waste your time reading this.
No, this is a craft for people like me. I can’t paint or draw, but I can rip and paste, which is all that’s required in this project. And, the beautiful thing is that in the end – no matter how much you think you might screw it up – it’s going to look good.
The material that you’ll be using in this project is your kid’s art. I know this may sound a bit shocking but here’s the background. When my oldest son was three, I realized that I, like the parents in the New York Times article, had a predicament. We were starting to amass an enormous collection of his work, and our refrigerator was only so big… as was our house. I gave away pictures. I filed pictures. But eventually, there was too much. After bedtime, I would sneak downstairs to throw some pictures away, even though I felt like Joan Crawford when I did it. Eventually – out of sheer necessity – I devised a plan. I gathered up 20 or so of my son’s pieces, bought a canvas, decoupage glue and foam brushes and made a collage.
Your kid’s art – This is your chance to gather up some of the many, many, many abstract drawings, scribbles and paintings that your son or daughter makes. Any kind of paper will work. My only suggestion is not to use “representational” drawings, such as your child’s self-portrait. You don’t want to upset your little Rembrandt. Therapy is expensive.
Pre-stretched canvas – Buy one at any art supply or craft store.
Handful of foam brushes – They’re cheap, sometimes only a quarter each; buy lots of them.
Non-toxic decoupage glue – Various brands (Mod Podge, Aleene’s, Martha Stewart) are available. Fun fact: the glue dries clear.
A slightly damp rag or sponge – Use this to wipe away excess glue.
(Optional) A couple sheets of brightly colored paper – In my example, I added a few pops of color to the collage with turquoise and fuchsia paper. This step is not for the purist.
The first rule is that if your kid is old enough to understand that you are about to tear up some of his or her art, you need to get his or her permission. Even better yet, let him or her help you. Remember what I told you about therapy.
1) Using a foam brush, cover your canvas in a coat of decoupage glue. It will dry within minutes.
2) Take a piece of the torn paper, apply a thick layer of glue to it with the foam brush.
3) Pick a spot on the canvas. Place the paper with the glue on top of it; then, firmly push outward from the middle. Glue will ooze out of the sides but – fear not you faceless stranger – you can wipe it away.
4) Continue. Overlap pieces. Go nuts.
5) When you are finished, brush on 2-3 coats of decoupage glue on top of the finished collage. This is your sealant.
6) Hang your masterpiece.
7) Practice for the compliments you are going to get from your family and friends by sitting in front of a mirror for at least two hours, tilting your head ever so slightly and batting your eyelashes. (This may take longer than the actual art project but it’s nice to make time for yourself.)