Disclosure :: there are affiliate links embedded in this post. While Santa paid for his own art cart, if you love what we love then everybody wins! Happy crafting!
How to Build an Art Cart for Home
If you have a little one who loves art, I highly recommend creating an art cart for your home. A few years ago, we participated in a playdate at a local school, and the art teacher had an “invitation” (a preset art project displayed to encourage children to join in the exercise but to come to the end result through observing the completed display model) on the table in the art room. It involved dipping fresh flowers in paint and stamping them onto the paper at each child’s place. My daughter loved it! But her attention very quickly turned to an art cart that was cleverly constructed to display small bins of buttons and jewels, jars of markers and colored pencils, containers of feathers and pipe cleaners. With the teacher’s permission, she went to the cart and began to “make art.” It was inspiring to watch how creative she is and just how at home she felt in a world that was not defined by coloring inside of the lines.
If you are like me, this makes you itchy. I stared at that cart and didn’t know where to begin. Do I color first or just glue some things in random order on a page? The lack of a known outcome was overwhelming to me. Yet, my mini-me was perfectly at home in this space.
We decided that there would be no greater Christmas gift that Santa could bring than a fully stocked art cart. The only problem was that I didn’t know where to begin to create one. I googled and googled until I came across a fantastic website called Tinkerlab. Operated by a former teacher and head of programming at an art museum, the blog provides uninspired moms like me helpful tips to make a space that let’s our budding artists’ imaginations soar.
Knowledge is power my friends, so I thought I’d share with you the things I learned about building an art cart that will make you (or in our case, Santa) the best gift giver around.
Step 1 :: The Cart Itself
There are many options, so it is hard to know where to start. I had my heart set on a Guidecraft version that was too wide for the small space we have available but whose design allowed for ample storage. I looked at smaller more open models like one that Ikea sells but felt that there weren’t enough compartments to store supplies. Finally, I discovered the Guidecraft Universal Storage Center on sale, and it was a match made in heaven. It had paper storage, a supply compartment that can be removed, large drawers, and a closed storage area. This model was going to keep our four year old inspired and our one year old from ingesting too many sequins. There are dozens of options at all price points on Amazon as well. Find what works for you! We really love the three tier options like this and this.
Step 2 :: The Storage Containers
For this to work for our family, it has to stay neat. We do not have a large house, and without a playroom, our art cart will be living in between our refrigerator and our pantry. There is no room for any more clutter or chaos! Once we had the cart built, we were able to find the supply containers that suited our needs. The Container Store has a fantastic selection of containers that are varying shapes and sizes. I wanted clear ones so that the supplies stood out when kids go to select their materials. The drawers are each slightly less than 12 inches deep, slightly less than 18 inches long, and slightly more than two inches high. The Linus Shallow Drawer Organizers were the best fit for what we needed since they offered so much versatility in the sizing of the products. These on Amazon would also work well, depending on your home’s preferences.
Step 3 :: The Art Supplies
I think this may be the most personal part of building an art cart and was certainly the part that brought me the most joy. We spent over an hour at Michael’s searching through every aisle finding treasures we knew our kids would love. I was also able to get some great craft supplies on Zulily – and the prices could not be beat! According to my friends at Tinkerlab, an art cart has three components: drawing and cutting tools, attaching tools, treasures. This is how we composed each section of our cart according to that rule of thumb:
Drawing and Cutting Tools ::
- a set of 24 markers (or start with an “all in one” set for one stop shopping)
- dot dot markers (these are SO FUN and a “must”)
- a 12 pack of colored pencils
- a 96 pack of crayons that I obsessively organized by color
- a 6 pack of washable glitter paint
- a variety of decorative cut scissors
Attaching Tools ::
- glitter glue pens in primary and brights
- glue sticks
- Elmer’s glue
- adhesive glue dots
- tons of Washi tapes – how darling is this set?! (we store tapes on a paper towel holder)
- adhesive ribbon (also stored on a paper towel holder)
- pom pom set, faceted gemstones, felt flower stickers and paper mosaic tiles
- tissue paper strip set
- foam glitter stickers, paper flowers, feathers and googly eyes
- metallic pipe cleaners
- glitter (I know it’s messy but kids love it!)