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When people walk into Aleece Stone's home for the first time they are truly impressed with her walls of art. She has personally selected and framed her treasured art pieces and even knows the artists personally. After all, the art is the handiwork of her three daughters, ages 9, 10, and 11. With more than 20 pieces of artwork framed in white wood frames, her family room has become a place to showcase her daughters' masterpieces. "I have picked three to four pieces from each school year to frame—from kindergarten to sixth grade," Stone says. "Some I collage together and some are separate pieces."

Now that her girls are older, she lets them weigh-in on the selection process. In fact, her daughters will come home from school with artwork and they'll say, "Mom, don't frame this one—it's not one of my favorites."
When her daughters started bringing their school projects home, Stone didn't want to throw them away, so she started saving them and framing them. Now, years later, she's happy their art is part of her decorating theme. "The kids love it," she says. "It makes them feel like they are part of the whole family; they are part of the house decoration."

"...her family room has become a place to showcase her daughters' masterpieces."
Carrie Balfanz has taken her family's wall of art one step further. In addition to the pieces created by her four children, ages 16, 14, 9, and 7, she displays artwork from her nieces and nephews, and a few childhood creations made by her husband, as well as herself.

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About 50 pieces of original art cover an entire wall going to their second-floor game room. The frames are all black, but the mattes vary in bright colors. "I pick a predominate color out of the piece of art to match the matte. It really grounds the artwork," she says.

Balfanz says when her kids started bringing home artwork from preschool, she couldn't bear to keep it hidden away in a drawer. "The moment they started painting or drawing, I started framing," she says. "I just think there is nothing more fun than putting your kids' artwork on the wall. It makes it feel so much like home – it's personal and original."

Clients of Affordable Framing, both Stone and Balfanz have had their art professionally framed and matted. Toni Lott of Affordable Framing says framing the artwork is one of the best ways to protect it from the elements.

Lott says children's artwork comes to their store in a lot of different ways—folded, wrinkled, creased, and even laminated by their teachers. "We use our press to iron out the art and fix it to the point that is acceptable to frame." Sometimes the teacher mats the original pieces with construction paper before laminating it. According to Lott, this type of paper mat will "really fade" over time. "The red will turn orange, and the green to blue,"so Lott puts a high-quality matte over the colored construction paper to counter this type of fading. "We recommend that everything be matted even if it was laminated," she says.

In addition to pastel colors, Affordable Framing carries a line of matte "crayon" colors that come straight from the crayon box—vivid colors—bright blue to orange to purple. "We can match a crayon drawing to the matte," she says.

If you are limited on space, and can't dedicate an entire wall to your children's art, Lott suggests picking a neutral color frame and matte where you can rotate the artwork each year. "This way you have a new master- piece each year in a spot in your kitchen reserved for your children's art." You can also combine several pieces of artwork into one frame as another way to save space. You can make an art collage or you can have a matte cut to feature three or four creations in the same frame.

If you are worried about how much framing will affect your bottom line, Lott says you can choose frames to fit any budget. Lesser expensive aluminum frames come in a variety of sizes and colors, in addition to basic gold, silver, and black. Wood frames also range from simple to elaborate depending on what your budget is.

To find out more ways to frame your children's artwork, call 589-6847.
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