So, I have some old drawings of mine from when I was about 3 years old, but they are not in good shape. The paper has been folded and creased many times, and it has become brittle and yellow with age. I love the images I created from childhood, but also wish they were in better condition. So, with my own kiddos, I wanted to help them create artwork that would still look great when they were adults, whether they may want it in the future, or to keep in my own home.
A little background on myself, I studied art at Stephen F. Austin State University, later was a curator of art at a museum, and then an art teacher of 7th and 8th graders. This history gave me a little bit of experience with different materials and archival methods. I set out to provide my 3 year old with relatively archival materials that would stand the test of time, but also be kid friendly.
I got him a 24 x 36 inch primed canvas, granted with my experience from college, I could have built him one, but realistically I know by the time I got around to building one, he would have aged another year. As a mom, time is limited, I cut to the chase and bought him a high quality canvas that I knew would hold up through our lifetime. A smaller size would work just as well if this seems daunting. I got something large, because I knew I wanted something big for above his bed, but I plan on using a variety of sizes for future projects.
Then, I found some permanent markers that have no odor. I know, permanent, gah! But I didn't want to use washable markers and risk him either smudging or wiping away his drawing later on, or the color inevitably fading over time. I knew I was probably going to have marker where it was not suppose to be: the walls, the doors, the bath tub, the sink. If you also want to use permanent markers, I recommend allowing your little one to use them under supervision, and then place them out of reach when you leave the room, or like myself realize that some of the walls or doors may need some touch up paint. I also recommend having them wear an old shirt and old shorts, so it wont be a problem if they get marker on their clothes.
The markers are Ticonderoga RediMark Plus Low Odor Permanent Markers. I did not notice any odor, and so, I didn't worry about my little guy inhaling fumes. They do wipe off easily from surfaces and skin if you get to them quickly with a damp cloth, but if it sets, some scrubbing will be needed. The marker does not come out of fabric.
This is a long term project. He started this drawing in April and has worked off and on for 3 months. The first few days he worked for long periods of time, up to an hour. Then, as the new wore off, he worked on it occasionally. When he seemed to lose interest, I would remove it for a week or two, and then bring it back out when he was interested in drawing.
Initially, I only gave him one color, blue. At first, I thought it would look great with just one color, but as he progressed, I wanted to let him have all the colors, and see what he chose to use. When I gave him all the markers, he was energized to work on his drawing. So, it may be a good strategy to give your kiddo one color at first, and then add one color at a time to help keep them interested in drawing.
The frame I ordered turned out to be not as deep as the canvas, so about a 1/4 inch sticks out the back, otherwise it looks great. The frame also comes with nice hangers and screws, but no wire.
Since the canvas is slightly deeper, I got canvas clips to secure the canvas to the frame. These are easy to install and require no tools. I hung it up to see if the difference between the canvas and frame was noticeable. And it looks great, I took some pictures from the side to show what it looks like.
I did price a custom frame from the local art supply chain, and they quoted $130, and this includes a discount of $290, gah! So, with that information, if I didn't love this frame which was $60, I was more than happy to get some lumber and build a frame that is simple and natural like this one, and more affordable than the frame shop. Another option, is to use this deeper canvas and hang it as is, without a frame.
My goal was to allow my kiddo to create a large drawing that we could hang in his room, and keep as a memento of his artwork from this age. I wrote the date and his name on the back. I'm planning on helping my boys create something permanent like this at different ages. I think it's a fun way to let my kids have a little freedom to make something, and a great keepsake for our home. I hope this inspires you to help your little one create something for your home.
Below I have listed and linked the supplies we used for this project, and included more pictures to show what the canvas looks like with the frame hanging on the wall, the back, the hanging hardware, and the metal clips that secure the canvas. We love how Eli's artwork turned out, and we hope you have as much fun as we did!
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