Keeping children’s artwork in good condition can sometimes be a challenge. Even if you are ruthless about only keeping the best, there is a tendency for it to get creased and dog-eared. It makes sense to keep it flat, and a traditional portfolio is the ideal way to do this. Yet the choice of portfolios available for children is limited. I couldn’t find one that I liked and most were very small, so I thought I would have a go at making my own instead. This proved to be pretty easy and quite cheap to do, with the added benefit of offering the opportunity to decorate and personalise the cover however I wanted.
For the cardboard covers, I re-used the backs from a couple of old sketch books, while for the decorative paper, you may recognise some of the Graffiti Giftwrap we made at Christmas. The full list of materials needed is given below:
- 2 sheets of thick card for the portfolio covers
- Decorative paper for the outside of the portfolio
- Plain or decorative paper for the inside of the portfolio
- Wide heavy duty adhesive tape for the binding and corners.
- Strip of thin card
- Glue (I used permanent spray glue and PVA medium)
- Approx 2m of ribbon or tape for the ties
1. Cut all paper to size. The paper for the outside of the portfolio should be larger on the 2 sides and the top by about 1cm. The paper for the inside should be about 0.5cms smaller than the card on those same 3 sides. Cut the ribbon into 6 even lengths.
2. Cut a strip of thin card the length of the spine of the portfolio, and approx 2cms wide, which will act as a stiffening for the spine.
3. Glue the decorative paper to one side of the thick card, allowing an overlap of about 1cm on 3 sides, and trying to avoid trapping air bubbles by smoothing them out as you lay the paper down. Snip the corners of the overlap off, apply further glue if necessary and fold the edges over onto the inside. Make sure you smooth them down firmly.
4. Cut a strip of the binding tape about 2cms longer than the length of the spine and place the strip of thin card in the centre. Attach the covers to the spine by placing each unfinished edge of the cover, outside face down, onto each edge of the tape so that they butt up against the edges of the card.
5. Fold over the overlapping top and bottom of the tape to the inside of the portfolio.
6. Cut 3 slots on each board of the portfolio at the centre of the top and the 2 side edges. Thread a piece of the tape or ribbon through each of the slots, and glue one end to the inside of the cover to secure (I actually did this in the wrong order after I had put the lining paper in place, which didn’t work as well!)
7. Cut another length of the binding tape the actual length of the spine, and stick in place on the inside to cover and protect the inside binding, and cover all raw edges.
8. Glue your prepared paper for the inside, to the inner covers of the portfolio, making sure that you cover the glued ends of the ribbon ties, the edges of the cover paper and the edges of the binding tape.
9. If you want to reinforce the top corners for extra durability, cut a square of the binding tape, and cut in half diagonally. Place one triangle over an outside corner, allowing a small overlap. Snip the corner, and fold over the edges to the inside, pinching the corner to create a neat finish as you do so. Place the other triangle on the inside of the cover at the same corner to cover the overlapping edges (you may find it necessary to trim the depth slightly so that the inside and outside corners match up).
Your portfolio is now finished.
You can of course use any decorative paper you like for your portfolio – even wrapping paper if you prefer. Alternatively you could use a plain paper, and then allow children to decorate the exterior themselves, using collage, stickers, printing etc. At least that way no-one else will have a portfolio quite like it!