I don't know about you, but with two kids in preschool, we amass a LOT of art in our house. I adore every little piece of creative expression that our boys come home with, or make at home, and I love to look at them. However, there is only so much surface area on our fridge, and a big pile of painted construction paper on our counter is not very convenient. I inserted a hanging file inside our coat closet to store the artwork, but not only does it fill quickly, it doesn't keep their art very accessible.
We first discovered the power of the photo book when we got married. It was a great way to display pictures from our engagement photo session at our wedding reception, and had a double purpose as our wedding guestbook. I have made photo books since to compile and display pics from our kids' newborn photo sessions, and have also made some of the kids' photos for family members as holiday gifts.
I thought, "why couldn't this be a solution for our boys' artwork too?" Surely we'd be able to more easily enjoy the future Picasso's art if it were compiled together in a tidy book, as opposed to this:
The first step was to organize the art by year (I couldn't always remember the exact order of the art, but I could roughly organize them by year) for each child. Some years had so much art that I organized them in six month increments.
The second step was to photograph each picture. I used a DSLR so I could have good resolution, and took the photos in an area with good lighting, and was careful not to have a shadow from the camera or myself on the art I was photographing.
After photographing, I uploaded all the pictures to my laptop computer, then went through and cropped and/or rotated them slightly so that there was no funky border or background of my floor showing.
Next, you need to decide where you'd like to order your photo book. I am a fan of Snapfish and MyPublisher. Snapfish is always offering good sales, especially around the holidays, so I tend to stock up on photo book projects that time of year. Both feature a very user-friendly interface, and I recommend using their "auto complete" option for ease of getting started. It helps suggest layouts for you, and you can always go in and re-arrange some of the images as needed.
I like having the cover of the book printed with one of the pieces of art and some text (see above), but there are lots of cover options, including a solid fabric cover, a cover with an open window, and even a cover sleeve printed with the art.
As you pay per page, and if you have as much art as I do, I recommend having some pages include more than one piece of art. There are many, many layout options to use as few as one, or as many as 13 images to a page if that's what you want to do. I tried to keep it between one, two, and three images to a page at most for this project so I could see the art better.
This ended up being a great keepsake, as well as a coffee table book. I was able to then file and store the majority of the original artwork away to save while still having access to see them in the book whenever I want. Another benefit is that these photo books are acid-free, and will likely last a lot longer than the construction paper that will fade or decay over time.
We still keep our favorite art pieces of the moment on our fridge in original form, but I love having this option for organizing, and enjoying the rest of them.
These would also be great gifts for grandparents, so you can always order multiple copies when you order one for your archives, or even re-order them later (they will be saved in your online account).
Let us know what you think of this solution for storing and organizing your children's artwork!