Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kid's Art Folder Tutorial

My child started pre-k this year and is already bringing home scads of paper: art, worksheets, etc. I have a tupperware container for a lot of her mementos (e.g., a rosary her birthmother gave, her birth bracelet from the hospital, the cap she wore in the hospital, a diaper to show how small she was, one of my favorite onesies, etc.), but I didn't want to put her school papers/art in it. I know that saving her artwork/schoolwork could easily get out of hand, but she does make some cute stuff, so I wanted a cute way to save the best of it. A box just wasn't going to do it, because I wanted to organize it by year, too.

My friend, Stephanie, posted this link on either her FB page or her blog, I can't remember which. It's a video clip from Charlotte, Today, an NBC affiliate's morning show, about "Displaying Your Kid's Artwork." This clip features a woman who shares some simple ways to create "holders" for your children's artwork. Her name is Donna Downey from Donna Downey Studios. I linked to her website, but I didn't spend any time to see if this project is there.

Two of the methods she shows are for saving and storing your child's artwork, and one is a quilt you make with a special kind of fabric transfer. That seemed interesting, but that was the 'display' advertised in the segment link, and I wanted a storage method. I was intrigued with her simple method of making a folder out of manila envelopes, cardboard, wrapping paper, duck tape, and a rubber band. Before I write anything else, you should watch the clip, because I'm going to critique it and tell/show you how to make a better one. Not with a mean-spirited intent, mind you; just from a practical point of view. But to whet your appetite, here's a pic of my finished product with BonnieBlue's real name 'rubbed' out.

Okay, first, the critique of the video. She used a rubber band tied around a pencial to bind the folder. Unfortunately, that rubber band is going to deteriorate within about a year, and it will break, so that's not a good way to 'bind' the folder. I thought of a few things, including 2-inch brass fasteners, which I may try for the next one I make as a gift for a friend. But for this, I settled on buttons and embroidery floss.

Next, the clasps on the envelopes are going to wear out in absolutely no time. I find that after the 3rd time I open one of those envelopes, the little metal tabs fall off. So, another way to fasten the folders was going to be necessary. Some manila envelopes have the wrap-a-string-around-two-brads method of 'securing' closed the envelope, but the envelopes I have are pull-stick strips of adhesive. I do, however, have in my stash the scrapbook alternative to the wrap-a-string-around-two-brads.

I guess they're not the alternative; they are wrap-a-string-around-two-brads brads.

Third, why the manila? There are white ones available, and I happened to have them on hand, so that option would be better, both financially and asthetically. Unfortunately, I wanted the larger size because some of BonnieBlue's artwork isn't the standard 8.5"x11" size. I wanted the 13" x 10" envelopes. I bought mine at Staples for $5.99 for 12; not bad as that's enough to make two of these storage folders.

Speaking (writing) of money, I'll do a cost break-down of mine at the end.

Okay, so here's the tute:

Materials, though this isn't everything. Missing is an exacto knife, a small-holed hole punch, large needle, thick white embroidery floss, letters, and chipboard decoration or some other decoration:

First, get/cut some cardboard. Donna, in the clip, says "Use garbage," or something like that. I'd like to stress here that perhaps you don't want to use, say, the pizza box from dinner last night. If this is going to be sitting around the house, you don't want it to have had food on it.  What I actually used: Rhett and I recently bought a king-size bedcover at Costco and it had two cardboard inserts that were perfect for this project. Here are some other options I had lying around the house: First, I have several of those jumbo poster-sized sticky note pads at work. I used one up recently and brought the empty back home. It is easy enough to cut with an exacto knife. Another option is a copy box. Next option: A large shoe box. The added bonus of this is that the lid lip is perfect for that binding piece.

Measure and cut cardboard 2 pieces of cardboard that are just a tad larger than your envelopes. Then cut a 1-inch (approx) strip from each piece.
To avoid any confusion on your part, I cut these after I completed my daughter's folder. I'm going to make another for a friend using smaller envelopes, hence these pieces of cardboard measure about 13 inches long, including the one-inch binding strip. The cardboard for my  finished folder measured 15" x 10.5", including the one-inch strip.

Next, wrap the cardboard pieces all separately in wrapping paper. I can't remember if Donna wrapped the strip with the bigger piece, but I didn't.
I bought the wrapping paper at Target for a $1.00. It's the lightweight stuff, which worries me as far as durability. I have some brown-paper-bag-like sturdier paper that I might try for another (as a gift!). The tape I had (and really wanted to use) wouldn't work with it, though, for BonnieBlue's folder. That tape mark on the left side of the board isn't going to matter. Take a large piece of coordinating scrapbook paper, cut it down to fit and tape over this inside of the board. I didn't take a picture of this step but you can see my choice in the open book view later. It's a blush pink page with a rough drawing of a crown and a "P" for princess.

And here's a thought (pay attention Mama Pea): It would be really cool to use fabric to cover this. Again, I think I might try to make another one using some of the cute stuff in my fabric stash. If you use fabric, and aren't too worried about sewing through cardboard, that's how you could bind it!

After all 4 pieces are wrapped, you're going to join the strips to the larger pieces (making the binding) using the duck tape. It comes in great colors and patterns now, making it fun to choose and coordinate. Place the one-inch cardboard strip next to the larger piece and tape all the way around. Unfortunately, I didn't wrap all the way around, so the inside looks a bit unfinished, as you can see in the open book view later.

I used zebra print duck tape because BonnieBlue loves zebras. I didn't like the look of the edge uncovered by tape, so I added another strip next to and over the end.

Since I'm going to use buttons and floss to hold the binding (I used 3, not just the 2 pictured), I need to measure and score where the needle is going to through the cardboard and envelopes.

This picture shows how big the buttons are, not how I measured the envelopes.

I measured one envelope on the sealed end, marking the halfway point and then marked each of the halves at those halfway points. I made 2 dots on either side of each half mark to coincide with 2 of the holes in each button.  (Sorry, again, I forgot a picture.) I then used a hole-punch with a tiny hole and punched through the dots. I'll be honest; I wasn't all that concerned about being exact with the measurements. I simply didn't care if the buttons weren't spaced perfectly. This pic should give you an idea.

This shows part of one envelope with the holees punched at the end that will be bound. (And by the way, that's the crown on the end paper I used on the inside of the cardboard.) I laid that envelope over another one and used a marker to dot the place where I will punch holes on that one. I then repeated the process on the other 4 envelopes. I'm using 6 envelopes, one for each of the first 4 grades, kindergarten, and pre-k.  I then punched the holes in all the envelopes.

Now I have to make sure that the envelope holes line up with the holes I'm going to punch through the cardboard, so I placed one of the envelopes where I wanted them all to line up on the cardboard and used my needle to score the cardboard.
After scoring all the holes in the cardboard, I moved the envelope and punched the holes all the way through using the needle.  I put all the envelopes inside the two pieces of cardboard, making a sandwich of everything. I then threaded the needle, placed it through the  first button, and forced the needle all the way through, being careful not to pull the end of the floss all the way through.

I had to keep loosening and tightening the sandwich to get it back through on the coming-back-through-the-other-way trip for the needle. You want the two floss ends to be on the top side of the cardboard after attaching the first button.
Tie the floss in a knot. Repeat the process for all three buttons.

I probably could have used smaller buttons, but I really like the large ones. I ended up with them just a hair over the edge, but I wanted to err on the side of being able to open the binding with no problems.

I used some nice letters to put the name on the front, 'pre-k' on the first envelope, 'k' on the next, etc. As you can see, there is plenty of room for her grade-level picture each year.
You can see here where the the inside looks unfinished because I didn't wrap the tape all the way around. Because my child loves horses, I glued one to the front. I'm thinking about putting one on the pre-k envelope and then adding some kind of graphic of whatever she's into that year on each envelope. I have a crappy memory, so that will help me out a lot. There is also room to write things like teacher's name, best friend, interesting events, etc.

Here's an open book view (before I put the letters on the envelopes):

And now the cost break-down:
1. cardboard - free, already had
2. envelopes - $6 (but I did have 6 smaller ones I could have used for free)
3. wrapping paper $1 (but I could have used what I had)
4. duck tape - $4
5. buttons - $2 but I have a bunch that I could have used
6. scrapbook paper brads- free, already had

7. glue & tape - free, already had

8. sticky letters - free, already had

9. needle and floss - free, already had (you could use twine, any heavy thread, etc.)

Total cost is $13 (could have been done with just $4 for the tape!), but I'll be able to make at least 2 more for gifts with the items I chose to purchase in combination with what I have, so $4 and change is pretty good for this project!

Take a look-see at that finished project one more time!

I'll be linking up to "Free For All" at Young & Crafty. Man, there's some fun stuff there! I'm not sure I'll get all my unfinished projects done before I start on something inspired by the cool things at that link party!

1 comment:

  1. I love that you got this done. I bought white envelopes, too. Still sitting downstairs...not done. Love your idea of the buttons. Way better than a rubber band!!!


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