Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What About Those Old Photos?

When I was a kid riding the trolley in Philadelphia, I would often miss my stop because the person sitting beside me was telling me a good story.  I am easily fascinated by people's stories and even today one of the best parts about being a writer and a designer is talking to people and hearing their stories.
Project Picture Board - Two Kitchens

 It takes at least five working sessions with a client before the kitchen/bath design phase of a remodeling project is complete.  As those design details are being worked out, I am often privileged to be a part of their family conversations. I get to see old pictures and hear about their best vacations or the Dad that was a war hero.  And almost always the topic of clutter comes up.  Clutter is a real issue.  I have helped several clients go through cabinets and closets to dispose of items they never use.   But, the hardest part of clutter for many people is often those old pictures that tell the history of who they are and how they have come to be the persons that they are today.

After I complete a remodel I create a project board using before and after pictures of the remodeled space. And years later when I look at the board I can still place myself at their table and relive the telling of those family stories.  Those stories are priceless, yet, there is a very good chance those old photos will be thrown away and their history erased from memory.  This reality started me on the path to help people preserve their stories.

Getting rid of photos is very difficult but you don't need every photo to keep a memory alive.  You need to keep the most heartfelt ones, the ones that grab the person's personality and you need to join it with other symbols of that person's life to make the story complete.

In my story making plaques I use wood plaques and work with old photos.There is a risk in working with aged photos, especially glossy ones.  The sealers could streak it a little too much or may highlight any discoloration present in the photo.  I tend to take a picture of it before I work with it.  Many multi-media artist will reproduce the photo onto cardstock and work with that way rather than the glossy photo.  But I use the photo and keep the pic on digital incase I have to reproduce it for some reason during the process.  However, since de-cluttering is a part of this endeavor, the only physical photo is on the plaque.  I work on solid wood so it can be hung on a wall or it can sit on a shelf. The sides of the wood are painted black.

I am currently working on a demo for my P.E.O Sisterhood.  And probably in the fall I'll have a  workshop on the tools necessary and the preparation involved in creating wooden wall plaques. Plaques are more time-consuming then you may think.

The plaque on the right is about my beautiful sister Mary who died a few years ago.  That's my favorite picture of her as a young girl.  She was my oldest sister and was born in Cape May so I put the Cape May light house on there along with other references that speak to her life.  She was pretty amazing.

If you have photos where you just want to highlight the picture then just painting or distressing the wood as I did on the left may be what you want to do.  I don't like frames so I have a variety of ways to display my photos.

Other methods for preserving memories are scrapbooking using acid free products and creating a board as a poster then protect it with plexiglass.  I have used this method with old photos. Another way is to just put everything on digital software. 

Whatever method you choose, preserving memories is always worth the effort.  Enjoy the process.


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