the art closet

A few weeks ago, we unpacked a big box of Isaiah’s art supplies. At our old house in Boulder, there was a cabinet in the living/dining room area, which we used as Isaiah’s “art cubby.” It was perfect, as he could access it, and it had doors that closed to hide the mess that a preschooler’s accessible art supply storage area inevitably became. After we moved from our rental in Maine to our “forever house,” as we’ve been calling it, we didn’t unpack the art supplies box right away because I wasn’t sure what to unpack it into. I had this idea that we needed something special and, of course, aesthetically pleasing, to put all of the art supplies in. Specifically, we needed a beautiful antique jelly cabinet, found on Craig’s List, for an amazingly low price.

Well, weeks passed and, not only did this jelly cabinet not present itself, but the money that would have been used to purchase it went toward other things we needed for the house. So, I started to think about alternatives. After unpacking my small collection of coffee and tea sets and crystal bowls into the built-in china closet in the dining room, I found there were two (counting the floor) lower shelves, perfect for a new art supply storage space!

Initially, as things got unloaded and piled in there, I worried that we had too much stuff and not enough space… Since the door is glass, closing it to hide a messy pile of pipe cleaners tangled with random balls of string and sticky glitter glue tubes, etc., wasn’t an option. I don’t do well with messes. (I know– how, then, do I live with a four-year old and a toddler? Lots of deep breaths. Oh, and after-bedtime clean-up time. Isaiah cleans up everyday, but, well, he’s four, and I’m fastidious about our living space, sometimes, perhaps, to the point of obsession.) So…

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent some time watching Isaiah use the closet, and re-organizing and re-arranging the shelves, finding new and improved storage containers for various supplies, and making new labels for them. (Isaiah can’t read yet, but someday…)

Yesterday morning, while Isaiah created some art with glitter, and Quinn explored body art with purple magic marker and green glitter glue, while simultaneously leaving a trail of teeny, tiny balls of mint green play dough all over the house, the art closet was finished! I love it!

In addition to art supplies, the bottom of the closet houses activity books, sticker books, and a stack of large, laminated posters about leaves, trees, bugs, butterflies, etc., that we found last summer at a yard sale. As Isaiah and Quinn get older, the art closet will evolve, I imagine, as storage for more science, nature, and other homeschooling supplies.

Isaiah’s almost four and a half now, and Quinn is 18 months, so my homeschooling plans for this coming school year are very loose, involving, I hope, lots of use of the stuff in this closet, as well as baking projects, free play, backyard explorations, and visits to the local library and the beach. Setting up this closet reminded me of setting up my preschool classrooms in years past. I have always loved the arts and craft corners the most. Inspired by my time spent in a Montessori classroom, I put together a couple of trays, ready-made with all the materials needed for a specific type of art project.

Loose glitter is not something I’ve previously given Isaiah free access to, but I thought I’d try it and see. As soon as he saw the containers of glitter in the tray he asked if he could use it. He worked very intently for a long time, and really seemed to enjoy these simple materials.

We hung it up on his art line to dry, and for display next to some of his other recent artistic explorations.

Hooray for art!