If I’d known I was going to have three children, two of them artists, I’d have bought a house with more closet space.Anyone who’s ever sent a child to preschool knows how hard it is to pare down all those marvelous, amazing, wondrous works of art that come home daily in tote bags and backpacks. Never mind the masterpieces your little prodigy makes at the kitchen table!
You can box them up, store them in folders, hang them on the wall… but eventually something’s going to have to go. What’s a mom to do? Digitize!
Digiscrappers are the perfect people to tame the kiddie-art monster. Since we are comfortable working with computers, it only makes sense to put our powers to use for good (not evil)! I asked around to see what creative ways digital scrapbookers have found to preserve the multitude of papers that come home with your kids and got some great suggestions.
Lots of you scan your children’s artwork. This works great for smaller works and for bigger pieces, you can scan things in several passes and stitch them together in your software. (Tutorials for Photoshop, Elements and PSP are available.) You can then use thes images in layouts, as backgrounds or just save the files.
Large artwork or things that are very three-dimensional often aren’t practical to scan. So, photograph them! Kelly from Simply Kelly Designs has a great system for taking photos of her kids’ artwork. I asked her to share with us her system. She says,
“My kids bring home the cutest preschool crafts! I want to include these projects in my children’s school scrapbooks but don’t have time to create a layout for each individual item. Here’s my solution:
- Photograph each artwork.
- Print onto 6×4-inch prints. These are often free or very inexpensive if you watch for sales.
- Insert the prints into We R Memory Keepers 12×12-inch three-ring photo sleeves with 6×4-inch pockets. The 6×4-inch photos fit perfectly in the sleeves and do not need to be trimmed at all.”
Some tips Kelly offers for getting good photos of artwork:
- Place them on a dark background. She uses her futon because it’s brown and doesn’t distract from the art.
- Use natural light from a window. It’ll be more even and give you better colors.
- Don’t forget to edit the photos. Applying a Levels adjustment in PS/PSE is simple and gives a good look.
Every so often, include your child in the photo! Have them hold the artwork so it doesn’t block their face, of course, and snap away. It will be wonderful to help you remember how old they were when they made the piece. You might find that the kids get more attached to these photos than to the work itself and they won’t even mind when you throw the originals away.
For beautiful photos of larger items, consider using a light box. This is a box with a background and translucent sides and top, so that you can evenly light the object from all sides. Check out our tutorial in the September 2010 issue of the DST Insider for instructions on how to make and use one inexpensively.
Once you’ve scanned or photographed those works of art, now what? Use the digital files of your child’s creations in the following ways:
- Print and put them in album sleeves.
- Scrap a layout or two with them.
- Have a year’s worth printed into a photo book.
- Print them out and display in a collage frame.
- Email to Grandma or someone else who will be equally amazed at your little artist’s talent!
- Post to your family blog or social-media website to share with loved ones.
Just don’t forget to back up these files along with all your other precious photos.
Even if you don’t have time to scrap all that precious artwork, photographing or scanning it will still save your memories well. And if clearing out the clutter isn’t reason enough, read DST reader ValarieRog’s cautionary comments in the forum:
“I used to keep all their artwork in those big tall boxes I bought from the school supply store.
Along comes Hurricane Gustav. Ruined. Even stuff I had framed on the walls, the humidity and heat ruined everything. I wish I had photographed/scanned everything. I’ll never get those years back. Never.
Word to the listener: Fires, hurricanes, you never know what destructive thing will come your way. Your children’s childhood only happens once. At the very least, photograph it.”
So if you can’t bear to part with the artwork, why not digitize it? You may still want to keep the originals of your very favorite pieces, but at least you won’t have to store every last scrap. And, as a bonus, you can use your child’s creativity to inspire your own creative digital projects!