Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tribute to a Life - A Memory Collage

How do we commemorate a life well-lived?

People pass from our lives, and we look for ways to hold onto those dear memories that we've built up over the years with that person. My life was touched by a special woman who passed away last winter at the age of 93. She lived a simple life, but she meant the world to her family. Her name was Vi, and she was my brother-in-law's mother.

My sister and brother-in-law gave me a large jar of buttons that Vi had collected over the years, and that sparked an idea. I decided to make a memory collage as a gift for them, as a way to remember this loving and generous woman who was such a huge part of their lives.

18" x 22"

Here's a closer view  of the collage, before it was put in the shadowbox frame ...

I included family pictures, vintage lace, and buttons from Vi's button jar. The fabric yo-yos are made from reproduction fabrics with a 1940s look. Vi was a gardener and tended her flowers and extensive garden even in her 93rd year, so I included a daylily watercolor that I had painted years ago (on handmade paper with flecks of daylilies in it!) for my sister to give Vi as a gift. (My sister helped me out with this project by passing along the photos and other items for me to use.)

This was my first foray into a scrapbooking type project, so I was a little overwhelmed at the selection of supplies at my local Michaels. I picked up this small brass frame there and used it with a print of an old photo of my brother-in-law as a baby, with his mom.

Don't you love the look of old photographs? I used a couple here, along with some antique lace pieces and vintage mother-of-pearl buttons. I hand-painted Vi's name on watercolor paper, but this quote, and all the other lettering on the collage, were purchased from Michaels, along with a few small floral accents.

We all love this photo of Vi (below). She looks so happy and relaxed. She was so contented, living in her little house, making her quilts, tending her garden - it was a good life. The quilted heart represents the many, many quilts she made and gave away to family and friends. The crochet hook is from her sewing basket.

It may seem funny to include a painting of an egg beater, but my sister says it was one of Vi's favorite kitchen tools, and she had used it from the time she was a young bride. Just think of the thousands of eggs she whipped up with this thing, and the hungry tummies she filled! Since I couldn't fit the actual egg beater in the shadow box frame, I did a painting of it. The recipe card is the one that she used when making her famous Monster Cookies, a delicious peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate-chip cookie that her family begged for whenever they got together.

Her cozy, just-the-right-size house in the mountains of West Virginia was surrounded by flowers in the summer, and served as the family gathering place for Christmas homecomings every year.

Vi made several trips to the North Carolina coast with our extended family over the years and loved nothing better than to walk the beaches, looking for shells.

I included these old wooden spools of thread to represent all the sewing Vi did over the years for her family - clothes, curtains, aprons, clothespin bags, rag rugs, and lots of quilts. I like the way they look, marching across the bottom of the frame.

I started out making this memory box collage as a way for Vi's family to hold onto their memories of their mom and grandma, but, as I was working on it, I really enjoyed remembering my visits with Vi, too. Her quiet and gentle spirit was a testimony to me that just by living a good life and being a good person, we can have a positive impact on our world.


  1. Absolutely beautiful.. what an incredible gift.

  2. Leslie, that is so sweet!

  3. So amazing Leslie! A shadow box always reminds me of peaking into a special moment in time or life of someone wonderful! So truly, a special gift.


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