Throughout the school year, students bring their artwork home and proudly show it to their parents, who give them accolades for a job well done.
The art may hang on the refrigerator door, trapped underneath a magnet, until the next piece of work comes home, then it's in with the new and out with the old.
But what happens with that old artwork? Does it get tucked away in a box up in the attic or shoved in a drawer?
Two Darien women have found a way to preserve children's artwork in a way that's appealing enough to put it on a coffee table.
"We were just talking about work and that struggle of being a stay-at-home mom and wanting a job and wanting a career," Anderson said. "So we spoke about the possibilities that fit within the lifestyle of being a mom."
It was then that van Hulst told Anderson about a recurring idea she had -- preserving her children's art.
"My kid was coming home with so much artwork and as a parent, every piece is amazing," van Hulst said. "But I wanted to do something. You can't put every piece around your house, and there's only so much you can do."
Once parents put away their children's artwork, Van Hulst said, it rarely sees the light of day again, despite parents not wanting to throw it away.
"So, our idea was to take all of this art off parents' hands and create a beautiful book that they would want to display, look at and have forever," van Hulst said.
Anderson, who lives around the corner from van Hulst's Noroton Bay home, said the two work in tandem and feed off each other's strengths to have a cohesive partnership.
"We're not `in-the-box' kind of women," van Hulst said.
Van Hulst and Anderson say the thicker pages and bright colors that are printed separate them from the commercial companies.
"We knew especially in this area that we didn't want a commercialized photo book," van Hulst said. "People want something spectacular."
The pages are flush mounted and lie flat with silver halide photo paper, much like a high-end wedding album.
"Giving each page the black background gives the book a higher quality, makes it look more archival and makes each piece pop," Anderson said. The black background on each page is the company's signature look, van Hulst said.
"There's a reason for everything we do," she added.
Jumbo Dog Art Books -- named after van Hulst's bulldog, Jumbo -- are not only limited to artwork. The largest art that their scanner is capable of scanning is 3-by-5 feet. Anderson photographs anything larger or that is incapable of being scanned, such as sculptures.
"We didn't want to change the artwork in any way," van Hulst said.
After some extensive research and thousands of miles added to their vehicles, the two found a high-quality scanner that replicates the color of the original artwork.
The books are not limited to children's artwork. The two said they have had clients who want books made with photos of their children playing sports. One client wanted to preserve her husband's artwork.
In order to promote the company, the two have offered books as part of auctions and have showcased them at art schools in the area. There are two options for the books, hard- or glass-covered.
In an effort to ease busy parents' burdens, van Hulst and Anderson will go to clients' homes and help them sort through the bins and boxes to pick out the best pieces of art to scan for the book.
The hardcover books, which have a matte finish, start at $205 for the smallest one with 26 pages, and up to $500 for more than 70 pages. The glass-covered books start at $225 for 16 pages and up to $740 for 50 pages.
They take the artwork, scan or photograph it, then design the pages, after which they send a proof to the client for approval. Once the client approves the proof, it is shipped for printing. The books are delivered to clients within two weeks.
"We want to say even if your kid is 3 years old, that art is spectacular," van Hulst said. "That art is important, that art should be showcased."
For information, visit jumbodogartbooks.com.
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