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Tricks of the Trade: Solutions for Crazy Craft Clutter

If you’re like me and you’ve got a kid in pre-school, you know that back to school time means the return of craft clutter. I’m pretty sure that the teachers at my children’s school held a contest last year to see who could send home the most projects. We had melted plastic jewelry, glittered cardboard creations, plaster of Paris paperweights, and oh, the many ways that you can turn dried food into art! In an attempt to honor my child’s hard work, enjoy the beauty of her projects, and feel like I wasn’t throwing my tuition money straight into the trash/recycling bin, I hung my daughter’s craft projects across an entire wall of my home. By mid-year my kitchen looked more like Mount Everest strung with Tibetan prayer flags than like a room in my home.

There are crafty solutions to this crafty problem – short of cutting a hole in your child’s backpack – and now is the time to put them in place.

1. Go vertical!
If the artwork is something that can be hung on a wall, you’ll automatically reduce the accumulation of counter piles. However, don’t just slap papers up with painter’s tape, magnets, or push pins. Try to make the area a bit of art itself. One solution is to frame their work in picture frames that match the decor of the room. Another trick that works well is to string a length of picture hanging wire between two decorative nails. In order to hold the pictures in place, choose brightly colored binder clips, clothespins, or curtain rings. I personally like the “Work of Art Clips” available for only $9.95 from Land of Nod (http://www.landofnod.com/). Their decorative wall attachments, strings, and clothespins brighten the room and serve a great purpose simultaneously.

2. Give the gift of art.
There simply is not enough room in your home to keep every project that comes through your door – so send it right back out the door in the arms of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends without kids. Not only will your children feel an enormous sense of pride in giving a gift that they created, but what doting grandparent wouldn’t love a homemade treasure? Bonus: when the artwork’s new owner finally disposes of the project, the child will not be there to see it….and force a dumpster dive with an all-out tantrum!

3. Photograph your child with their art.
Not everything can last forever – especially those macaroni necklaces, macaroni pictures, macaroni sculptures – so take a digital photograph of your child with his or her project to be saved for posterity on your hard drive! If you’re a scrapbooker, here is a great opportunity for you to catalogue your child’s work by school year.

4. Store treasured pieces carefully.
When the time comes to change out the artwork that you are currently displaying with the new pieces arriving daily, choose your favorites to store in accordion folders that you can organize by school year. One folder that works well for flat projects is “My Art” by Alex Toys (http://www.alextoys.us/). With colorful portfolio dividers and tabs to mark the date, this organizing system is a fun way for your child to say good-bye to their work for now, yet protect it for the future.

5. Properly utilize the projects you love.
When your child brings home a school project that can actually serve a purpose, why not use it? Send a paperweight or two along with dad to work, put a picture in that popsicle stick frame to gaze at while you work from home, and by golly, get that macrame pot-holder out at dinner tonight!

6. Sort through last year’s clutter to make a fresh start.
Do you still have the end of school flower project sitting on your desk or that paper towel roll volcano sitting on your kitchen counter? Try out these tips now for clearing your life of project problems, and you’ll be ready to go for the upcoming school year!

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