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Recycle kids' artwork as gifts

Create a striking display by scanning your favorite pieces, then printing miniature versions and framing them.

Associated Press

Create a striking display by scanning your favorite pieces, then printing miniature versions and framing them.

Turning children's artwork into Christmas gifts can be a creative way to clear away clutter: Take those drawings and paintings off the fridge and tuck them under the tree. Start by scanning or taking digital photographs of children's artwork, which allows the images to be manipulated without harming the original. And it means you can make multiple gifts with the same art. Holly Ramer, Associated Press


Use photo-editing software to crop the scanned image or photo into a square or rectangle, and reduce the size to a few inches across. Print the image on photo paper or card stock, cut it out and then cut a piece of foam core board the same size. Glue the image to a foam core backing and glue a magnet on back. Voila! A magnet to hold up the next batch of artwork that will begin arriving home when school resumes after the holiday break.

Framed collage

The same technique used for the magnets can be repeated to create a striking framed display of dozens of drawings and paintings. Again, reduce the size of the scanned images or photos and print as many as you would like on photo paper or card stock. Back each cutout image with foam core, and glue them to a large piece of white poster board cut to fit your frame. Twenty images, shrunk down to roughly 3 inches, will fit nicely in a 16- by 20-inch frame. Play around with the arrangement before gluing to ensure roughly equal spacing between the images.

Note cards

Abstract finger paintings can be turned into note cards suitable for anyone who appreciates bold color. Isolate interesting sections of a larger painting, crop to 5 ½ by 4 ¼ inches and glue to the front of a card made out of a standard 8 ½- by 11-inch piece of card stock cut in half, or print the image directly on the card stock. This idea also works well if you have a large, detailed picture colored by an older child that can be broken up into interesting sections.


Even simple line drawings can be turned into vibrant gifts with a little tweaking. Starting with a scan or photo of the drawing, use photo-editing software to increase the contrast and create a pure black-and-white image. Fill the background with a bright color and change the black lines to white to make it pop against the background. I used a series of images drawn by my son to make a calendar by adding the images to 5- by 7-inch calendar templates purchased at a digital scrapbooking website and printing them as photos, but free templates also are available. Inexpensive acrylic box frames can be used to display the calendar and store the prints.


Melissa Crowe, a Portland, Maine, fabric artist who usually works with wool felt, also has made embroidered Christmas tree ornaments using a child's drawing. Trace the image onto linen, embroider using a simple back stitch, and then use the linen as the front of a small, pillowlike ornament by cutting a square around the design. Pin the linen to a square of backing fabric, tucking in a ribbon loop for hanging along one edge, and sew around the square, leaving an opening for turning. Turn the ornament right-side-out and stuff, sewing the opening closed by hand.

Recycle kids' artwork as gifts 12/20/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:43pm]
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