Today I’m joined by Megan Schiller of The Art Pantry, as part of our ongoing series of inspiring conversations that center on how to set up creativity hubs, or tinkerspaces. If you’re scratching your head because you can’t figure out where to put your child’s art materials, want to turn your laundry room into an art zone, or tend to shift furniture to make room for creative supplies, these interviews are sure to give you food for thought.
Megan Schiller is a creative parent with an impressive background in art education, who now runs an amazing online kid-friendly art store called The Art Pantry where she also consults families on how to set up their very own Art Pantry (check out her very generous giveaway at the end of this post). I’ve drooled over pictures of Megan’s child-friendly tinkering space in her Instagram feed and also on her blog, and I asked her if she’d be so kind to share it with us today. Yay! We’re in for treat. Enjoy this peek into Megan’s Art Pantry…
Can you tell us about your family?
I am so grateful to have such a loving family! My husband and I have two daughters (ages 2 and 5) and a very old dog (age 15). We live in a small home in an amazing community just north of San Francisco.
How would you describe your space?
Our art space is located in our sunroom, just off the living room. It was once a covered porch, so the wall between the living room and our art space is full of windows. This allows me to keep my eye on the girls, but still close the door so my toddler doesn’t run out covered in paint!
The space is about 100 square feet with most of the art supplies on one side, a reading area on the other and a table in the middle. We live in my Grandmother’s old home, who was also an artist. She used this same sunroom as her art studio, so I have a lot of memories creating art as a child in this room.
What’s the inspiration for your creative space?
My inspiration comes from the “ateliers” of Reggio Emilia preschools. While studying the Reggio Emilia approach in grad school, I was lucky enough to attend a study tour of these Italian schools. It was life changing and has shaped everything I have done in my career and as a parent. I am completely in awe of their approach to the use of art in early childhood education and have tried to set up our art space to reflect this.
I want my girls to view the materials as tools for exploration, investigation, construction and self-expression. I want them to be self-sufficient in this space and have free access to many of the materials. The rules are if they can reach it, they can use it without supervision. My 5 year old mostly has free access to everything, while my 2 year old can access markers, stamps, stickers, plastic scissors, paper, and sometimes paint!
If you had to be selective, what three things do you love most about your space?
The natural light, the open shelving, and the fact that it can be closed off, but still visible.
Do you have any tips for those of us who want to make our homes havens for making?
Create a dedicated art space somewhere in your home and make sure it is near a work surface (a desk, play table, or kitchen table). Make it inviting by keeping the materials organized and easy to access. If it gets too disorderly, store some of the materials away in a closet and rotate them often. If you have room for a lot of materials, choose a few to highlight every once in a while by putting out an “invitation to create.”
What five supplies are indispensable to you and your children at this moment?
My kids are big fans of the basics: markers, play dough, tempera paint, scissors, and tape.
Can you share a favorite tip for organizing your creative zone or for cleaning up after a creative session?
For messy projects, I am a huge proponent of using trays. They usually keep the mess contained in the tray and they can be moved out of reach if you need to save cleanup for later. We also use them for storing projects that extend over multiple days.
What do you wish for your children to remember about their childhood?
Great question! I hope they will remember an abundance of love, giggles, creativity, dancing, being in nature, and the feeling of playing deep in their imaginations.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m so honored that you asked to interview me, Rachelle! I have been reading your blog for years and want to thank you for being such an inspiration. I am extremely passionate about helping people set up art spaces for kids and have recently started offering design services through The Art Pantry. I’d love to offer one of your readers an e-design package as a giveaway. I can’t wait to work with the lucky winner!
Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Megan!
Friends, if you’d like to share your TinkerSpace with us, drop me a line at Rachelle at TinkerLab.com. You can check out the rest of the TinkerSpaces in this series here.
Megan is offering one lucky reader her Art Pantry Design Services, to help you create an art space that’s inviting, organized, age appropriate, inspiring, and empowering. This service is valued between $125 and $500.
To enter: simply leave a comment on this post by Sunday, April 27 at 9 pm PST and the winner will be chosen by random number generator. This contest is open world-wide and you must be at least 18 years old to enter.