What a Tangled Web We Weave
Or hang, as the case may be. In the four previous years at Evergreen Elementary, I've tried several different methods of displaying kids' artwork. One major challenge is the wall surface. Instead of a bulletin-board style surface, the long walls on both sides of the hallway outside our studios are a regular sheet-rocked surface. The building is relatively new and is still beautiful because careful care has been taken and because our custodial partners, Sue and Porfirio, are fanatics about their jobs. Thumbtacks, push pins, or staples? I think not.
In other years, therefore, I tried large swaths of colorful butcher paper, suspended by a short million dots of "sticky blue stuff." Depending on the brand, SBS is either sticky or not. It responds to temperature and humidity changes by letting go at inopportune times. To remain pliable, it has a high oil content, so when it's time to change out the displays, smudgy spots remain from previous pieces.
Another issue is balance. I surprise myself when elements of severe control freakitis show up in my personality, but there I'd be, trying to pretend that measuring each piece with a yardstick and double checking placement with a carpenter's level is normal behavior.
The last challenge is climbing. After three hip replacements, step-stools aren't my favorite toys. It's not impossible to clamber up and down, but it's not fun, and the need to be careful resulted in fewer changes to displays.
As I pondered the challenge and had fun imagining some kind of revolutionary display system that was both cheap and easy, I thought about how we display artwork during our annual show. There, large metal livestock panels in groups of three support artwork that's suspended by unfolded paper clips through punched holes. My first idea, chicken wire, was rejected because of its weight and the problem of child-poking wires on the ends of the display. I went to the hardware store and wandered through the gardening department. There was my solution, masquerading as bird netting for fruit trees! It met all the requirements - light weight plastic, safe for inquisitive fingers, and its composition - one inch squares, would be perfect for suspending artwork. One quick check to get permission to use picture hangers for suspension (and promising to fill the tiny holes left by the nails when it all comes down) and we were on our way.
I'm happy and the kids are happy. When they have a completed piece of work they choose to display, it's an easy task to get it mounted, punched, and hung outside. I think we'll get lots more work hung for public enjoyment this year. Stay tuned!