Where once a refrigerator door could be found, there stands a gallery of fine art -- the cluttered collection from your prolific progeny. In the latest series of works brought home from school, magical green-glitter dragons spew blue flaming stars at stylized stick figures, the latter akin to sketches by an early Picasso.

A visual triumph, to be sure, but a definite deterrent on the way to the orange juice.

As your budding artists continue to develop dexterity with crayons and poster paints, your home may soon contain more masterpieces than MOMA. Taking them down risks hurt feelings. Plus, you want to encourage the creativity and preserve the treasures of tiny hands. But, well, you want the orange juice, too. What's a parent/curator/juice drinker to do?

Fortunately, ideas for dealing with children's art are just as abundant as the art itself. With everything from dedicated gallery walls for rotating "exhibits" in the garage to digital archives that specifically host children's works, there are beautiful ways to manage your kids' masterpieces and keep the whole household happy.

Heather Gibbs Flett of Berkeley, who blogs on rookiemoms.com and co-founded the www.510families.com site for fun East Bay kid activities, says her kindergartener is a prolific artist, but their home has limited wall and shelf space. "So I love the Artkive app (www.artkiveapp.com) to organize kid art and minimize my guilt for tossing it out," she says.

"It really works for me," she adds. "I photograph each drawing right into the app and then categorize it by artist, school year and date. From there, I can make custom digital or printed albums. It also lets me share among circles of his interested art fans."

One Walnut Creek mom scans all of her daughter's artwork, saves it on the computer and turns it into a digital slide show for the screen saver.

In Whitney Moss’s Berkeley home, one closet door hosts artwork brought home from school. When new pieces go up, the old ones come down.
In Whitney Moss's Berkeley home, one closet door hosts artwork brought home from school. When new pieces go up, the old ones come down. (Courtesy Whitney Moss)

Others upload photos of paintings, drawings and crafts to the International Children's Gallery (www.childrensgallery.org), an online space for showcasing the imaginative artwork produced by kids around the world. The site accepts submissions from children up to age 13.

Low-tech works, too

Some parents opt for good old three-ring binders with plastic-sheet protectors. Have your child decorate the cover, and make it a place of honor to preserve special items. If a piece of art is too large to fit, snap a photo or make a reduced-size color photocopy, and add that to the collection.

With scissors, a little glue and cardboard, artwork can be turned into jigsaw puzzles. Simply have the kids glue drawings onto a sheet of thin cardboard, and cut it into shapes.

At Marian Williams' Los Gatos home, artwork quickly piles up, thanks to talented 8-year-old Wyatt.

Williams takes some pieces and pastes them onto calendars -- either existing ones, or those printed out. "Everything after that gets stored in a bin," she says.

"I try and keep it organized as much as possible," Williams says. "I pick out the museum-worthy pieces, and those get framed and put on the wall. Then my son and I together pick out 10 pieces that we turn into a coffee-table book for all the grandparents."

(Multiple websites, such as Plum Print (www.plumprint.com), offer such a service that converts images to book form.)

Capture the creativity

A great option for wall art is Lil Davinci art cabinets (www.dynamicframes.com), with prices that start at around $29. They look like regular picture frames, but have a hinged front panel for rotating images and a space in the back to store up to 50 more creations.

Children's masterpieces can also be transferred to useful household items at Jessica Williams' ceramics Brushstrokes studio in Berkeley (www.brushstrokestudio.com).

At Brushstrokes in Berkeley, children’s art can be transferred to ceramic ware.
At Brushstrokes in Berkeley, children's art can be transferred to ceramic ware. (Erin Scott)

"One of the cool things we've done with kids' art is have the parents trace the images, then transfer them and paint them onto ceramic plates," she says. "These transfers capture the beautiful Picasso-like line drawings that kids under 5 do so much more beautifully than most great artists can ever achieve."

Parents magazine suggests hanging a clothesline in a designated "art space" -- the kitchen, child's bedroom, playroom or even garage. Attach pieces with a clothespin, or use cute barrettes or hair clips, and then swap in new pictures as quickly as they are produced.

USPS can help

Art can also become a postage stamp. You can upload an image and turn it into a U.S. Postal Service-approved stamp at sites such as http://www.pictureitpostage.com. They're more expensive than regular stamps -- two printed sheets of 20 stamps cost $17.95 -- but they add a fun, personal touch to letters.

And speaking of mail, excess art can always serve as a delightful gift to grandparents. It can even be the letter paper itself. Glue a piece of a pretty picture to brightly colored construction paper or card stock, and then have your child write a note.

Let the artist edit

"The art seems like such a huge deal at the time, but by June, the kids are no longer as passionately attached," one mom says. "They're far more ruthless about throwing things away than I am. So we keep a sampling of favorites, and everyone's happy."

Contact Angela Hill at ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com and follower her on Twitter @giveemhill.

  • If your refrigerator won't hold magnets, get magnetic paint at the hardware store and convert a pantry door or a space on a family room wall into an art spot.

  • Turn masterpieces into placemats. Laminate them between sheets of clear contact shelf paper. Or have them done professionally at sites such as www.snapfish.com.

  • For permanent treasures, colorful creations can be transformed into wearable sterling silver or 14K gold jewelry at www.totallyoutofhand.com. A small silver pendant starts at $95; a small pin starts at $125 (prices for pieces in gold are quoted individually).

    Source: Parents magazine, and
    Bay Area moms