The Perfect Drying Rack Alternative for Art Teachers

Is there a better drying rack for art teachers out there?

Traditional drying racks are big, unwieldy, and don’t even hold that many wet paintings. They take up a lot of floor space, and only 1-2 students can be in front of them at a time which creates a bottleneck in the art classroom.

Worse yet, the paintings often fall off of them and onto other wet artworks, defeating the purpose altogether. And they are expensive!

But what if there was a better, easier, cheaper, cleaner, more efficient way to dry paintings? This art teacher hack will cure all of your painting-drying woes.

Check out our Ateliyay! Curriculum for more great art education resources.

drying rack for art teachers


Now this might sound a little crazy, but hear me out. The best drawing rack for art teachers are actually pizza boxes.

You heard me right.

Pizza boxes.

Pizza boxes are by far the best system for drying wet artworks. They are light, they securely store wet artworks, and they can easily be stacked out of harm’s way. Best of all they are free – local pizza places will often give you a stack of pizza boxes when presented with the ole “I’m an art teacher and my students need your help” routine.

Check out our Ateliyay! Curriculum for more great art education resources.

  1. Students paint something
  2. Fold pizza boxes. Save time by having students fold their own boxes as part of the lesson (there’s no reason you have to do it!).
  3. Distribute tape. Do this while students fold pizza boxes. I suggest distributing tape by tearing 3″-4″ pieces and attaching the pieces lightly to the back of students’ seats. This distribution method prevents a taking-forever-to-get-your-tape situation with students.
  4. Have students place artwork in boxes. If you have large pizza boxes, multiple student artworks can be stored in a single box. For elementary students, I like to have four paintings per box as that is the number of students I usually have at each table.
  5. Tape down artwork. You can tape artworks by rolling some artist’s tape to gently adhere it to the back of the work, or by taping over two of the corners of the artwork to attach it to the box. If you have a ton of students in each class, you can also tape an additional four artworks to the lid of the box, allowing one large box to store up to 8 artworks.
  6. Label. On the edge of the box, write the table number and class period. Pizza boxes have a spot to do this specifically on the edge. Do not write on top of the box because when they are stacked you won’t be able to see it. By writing on the edge, you can see the label for every box no matter how many are stacked on top of each other.
  7. Stack boxes and place out of the way. The great thing about pizza boxes is that because they are so light, it is easy to store them in otherwise under-utilized areas of your classroom such as on top of cabinets.

Are you enjoying this article? Join our mailing list for art teacher delights delivered directly to your inbox.


Did you know folding pizza boxes is a skill? Your local pizza place might gladly fork over a stack of boxes, but they will be unfolded. You might be thinking to yourself, “Oh Mandy, I can fold a pizza box. I can figure it out, it’s fine.” But I have given hundreds of art teachers pizza boxes throughout the years of giving workshops, and not a single person who insisted on doing it without instruction did it correctly. So do yourself a favor and watch this quick video to save yourself some time and frustration.

Although you can get pizza boxes donated to your classroom, you may prefer unprinted boxes for yours students.

 (Please note that this is an affiliate link.)

What do you think? Will you try a pizza box drying rack system in your classroom? Is it the best drying rack for art teachers? Let me know in the comments below.

The Must-Know Secret for Teaching Oil Painting on a Budget

How to Clean Oil Painting Brushes

Did you enjoy this article? Join our mailing list for art teacher delights delivered directly to your inbox.

Check out our Ateliyay! Curriculum for more great art education resources.

Learn more about atelier training by listening to Director Mandy Theis on this podcast.

Similar Posts


  1. Hi! I appreciate your idea. I can’t visualize how you can store multiple wet artworks in one box. Can you also explain what you do with the tape to adhere it to the box?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Carrie, you can tape paintings to both the lid of the box and the base of the box by rolling the tape and pressing it onto the back of the wet canvas and then laying carefully in the box. Sometimes I have my students keep the edges of their canvas unpainted until the very end so they can tape it to the box from the front. Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *