kids artwork display {3 easy DiY projects & a fail-proof tutorial for how to hang a gallery wall}

A couple weeks ago I shared our new {surprise} Rainbow Family Room.  I was so nervous that Husband wouldn’t like it, but as it turned out he absolutely loved it.  So much so that my oh-so-unexpressive, non-writer, engineer husband actually wrote me a poem to thank me!  And it was pretty good!  He said I could share it with y’all so I updated the post–be sure to go back to check it out!

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So far we have already gotten a lot of use out of our new room.  It is SUCH a functional, happy space.  The girls love doing art projects in there, and Husband and I have a lot of fun at night playing Wii Fit.  One of my favorite elements is the kids artwork gallery wall.  I really wanted a display that was fun, stylish, & would allow me to show off the never-ending supply of artwork that my girls create.  The end result turned out even better than I had hoped & it was SO easy!  Definitely a get-it-done-in-a-day-or-two kinda project.

Project 1: Melted Crayon Art

I first saw this melted crayon art project over on Whatever (love that blog!) months ago and immediately pinned it as one of those things I had to do with my kids someday.  It was such a fun and easy project and the girls had so much fun with it–it was just so cool to watch the crayons melt!

1. After separating the crayons by color (we used a box of 96, which was about perfect for the 16×20″ canvas that we used), line them up in color order at the top of the canvas, then hot glue them in place.

 2. Prop the canvas at an angle, then use a blowdryer on high heat to slowly melt the crayons.

 3.  Continue melting until you (or your kids) are satisfied with the effect–you can make it a little melty or really melty, it is totally up to you (or them!)

Project 2: Artwork Display Frames

I painted my frames all different colors because I wanted a rainbow effect against the white walls, but you could just as easily do them in all one color, or even all in white, for a more muted, classic look.  I used a few frames I already had laying around the house, and then a few more that I picked up at Michael’s (for 60% off of course!)

1.  Spray paint frames and clothespins.  (For the smaller frames, I spray painted the clothespins the same color as the frames, since they were glued directly to the frame.  However, for the 2 largest frames, I spray painted the clothespins the same color as the wall and used popsicle sticks to extend them down so that the pictures would be centered.)

2.  Use hot glue to attach clothespins to frames.  (I forgot to take a picture of of the larger frames, but basically I hot glued a popsicle stick to the back of the frame, then clued the clothespin to the popsicle stick.)

Project 3: DiY Framed Chalkboard

I wasn’t planning to make a chalkboard but when I couldn’t find one to buy anywhere (and really, really, really wanted one, ever since I saw the Nester’s cute living room gallery wall), I decided to go with plan B and just make one instead.  This is a perfect project if you have any old frames (with glass) that you don’t know what to do with!  I used a 16×20″ size, but any size would work.

1.  Spray paint your frame.  If it has a really shiny finish, it helps to lightly sand it first with fine grade sandpaper, then sand between light coats.

2.  Paint glass with chalkboard paint.  I used the Martha Stewart chalkboard craft paint that works on all surfaces.

3.  Let dry, then follow with multiple coats, until chalkboard is completely opaque.  I think I used 3 coats.  After final coat, let paint cure for 24 hours before assembling frame.

How to Hang a Gallery Wall {Fail-Proof Tutorial}

Hanging a gallery wall so it looks good only seems tricky!  Use this technique any time you want to hang multiple pictures on the wall and never face the shame of filling your wall with holes ever again.  Your husband will thank you. :-)

1. Tape kraft paper onto the floor with blue painter’s tape.  If your display is going to be wider than one roll of paper, tape two rows together securely.

2.  Play around with your artwork until you find a composition that you like, then carefully trace around each picture with a pencil and then mark where the holes for each picture should go.  Take a picture if you’re not sure you can remember where everything should go!

3.  Hang the paper on the wall so that the outlines are in the right place, taking care to make sure your horizontal lines are level.  Using your marks as a guide, put all your screws or nails in place, then tear away paper.

4.  Hang all your artwork on the wall, using your picture as a guide.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

P.S.  If you’re wondering how I hung those letters, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  I hot glued them to the wall.  (Shhh…don’t tell my husband!)

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{ 24 comments… add one }

  • Shasta Farrar May 2,

    Fantastic! I love how you made a gallery wall for your kids.

    Reply
  • Rachel May 2,

    Great idea to use craft paper. I recently hung some pictures – without a level – so some are crooked a little. I’d like to do a similar display as yours and I will keep this tip in mind! Thanks

    Reply
  • Kristine May 5,

    There are so many great ideas in this post! I would have never thought to use old or outdated frames and paint them or use chalkboard paint on the glass. What great ideas! And I’m totally impressed with the way you prepared to hang your gallery wall. (All these cool ideas definitely outshine the fact that you hot glued those letters to the wall – lol!) Thanks for giving instructions for these DIY projects!!
    And what an awesome poem from your hubby :0)

    Reply
  • Amy McCart May 6,

    THIS IS AMAZING!!! I think this will be the new official wall for our playroom!! :) AWESOME!! THANK YOU for sharing!!! :) – The only change I think I’ll do is instead of doing “PLAY”, I’m going to do my kids names.

    LOVE IT!
    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Crystal L. (Crafting & Rambling) May 6,

    Great idea with the craft paper!! Definitely going to have to remember that! :) Love the way that gallery turned out too – awesome inspiration! :) Had to laugh at loud at the hanging “technique” for your words. ;)

    Reply
  • Jane May 15,

    Those are some great ideas! I would have never thought to use paper to hang a gallery wall like that. It makes it look so easy. Thanks!

    Reply
  • sue July 4,

    LOVE this idea! I have been saving my kids artwork for several years in hopes of displaying it “gallery-style” in our basement playroom. This idea will work great! Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply
  • Christy July 11,

    Ok so this might be a silly question but I am in the middle of doing this in our kids new playroom and I was wondering if you took the glass out of the frames.

    Reply
    • Ruth July 11,

      Yes I took the glass out. I actually just threw it away which felt kinda weird, but I couldn’t think of a use for it. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  • Stefanie August 22,

    Thank you for the inspiration. I just finished a similar wall in our homeschool classroom that is based on what you shared. It looks so great and it’s such a fun way to display my little one’s work.

    Reply
  • Tulip September 9,

    Love the frames! Thanks for sharing. Pinned!

    Reply
  • Amy September 15,

    ‘just finished this in our play room!! yay! eventually, i’m going to also put up my kids names. very creative idea!!! Pinned!
    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Irina October 9,

    This is so creative! I am in the process of doing this for my son’s playroom. I am in the first stages of spray painting the frames, so excited!

    Reply
  • Liz November 4,

    Thank you for this. I’ve been looking for something to do w/ my play room FOREVER, and this fit the bill perfectly and economically. Our playroom finally looks fun!

    Reply
  • Amanda H. November 15,

    Thank you. This is brilliant. Can’t wait to gather my supplies!

    Reply
  • Lisa @ Charlie The Cavalier November 16,

    I love how you added the circle frame. I would not have thought of that.

    Reply
  • birdy boots January 29,

    This is so fun! Hopping over from Pinterest!

    Reply
  • Grace March 2,

    I love this wall! And it absolutely cracks me up that you hung the letters with hot glue. That totally sounds like something I would do and my husband would kill me for. I have hung letters similar in our playroom and I used 3M velcro strips and they are a genius invention for women like me that refuse to wait on a man’s help to do projects.

    Reply
  • Barb@Baby Signs April 5,

    Cool! I love your melted crayon art!
    A girlfriend of mine who is a kindergarten teacher did something you reminded me of–melted mixed color crayons in heart-shaped silicon shapes in the oven, making heart shaped crayons. Her kids loved them as valentines gifts!
    :))
    ~Barb

    Reply
  • Dennice April 14,

    I saw the crayon idea on pinterest, but just never got around to it. The old frame idea is so cute because every frame is so unique. I love love love the way it turned out! great job!!

    Reply
  • Meagan June 7,

    Here is my question…. Did hot gluing the clothespins last? I tried to do that once and it DID NOT work. The clothespins were off in a matter of days, and that was with my hands touching them, not the tiny maniac minions that live here. I’m just curious if I might have just had bad luck. It seems that painting things made the hot glue work less, because the paint chipped off and they came unglued. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Suzanne June 16,

    I love the melted crayon. It is really like a work of art. Such a nice idea.

    Reply
  • josie October 29,

    Hi Ruth, i just moved and now I have a play room for the kids, so I will be doing all of these projects… thanks so much for all you do, you are amazing!

    Reply
  • exterior home remodeling April 28,

    Very good article. I will be facing some of these
    issues as well..

    Reply

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