Monday, July 27, 2015

Millennium learns how to conserve and preserve his history . . .

My 28 year-old son, Charlie, decided to finally clean out his closet. What an undertaking he found it to be. File folders of newspaper clippings, bags of bags from places he shopped, paper tubes filled with drawings, and boxes filled with his insatiable desire to collect maritime history artifacts. He was overwhelmed with his collections and perplexed as to how he was going to sort through it all, what to keep, what to throw away and then how and where to keep his stuff. After a few hours, he came to me with eyes like a deer caught in the headlights, stunned and at a loss at what to do next. However, he does have some knowledge on how to keep what is most important to him because he has his own museum, albeit the fact that it was created for him by me, the family museum curator. But what he has in his possession that is not in the museum is what he needs to be concerned about. So here are a few of the suggestions and steps I encouraged him to follow:

1.  Tackle one project at a time, such as going through the file folders of newspaper clippings. Review each one, measure its relevance. Separate piles in subject-like matter. Take each clipping and trim away irrelevant print, but make sure to keep the date and publication info. Repair any rips with preservation double coated tape available at Either re-file kept clippings chronologically or place a few notable ones in a scrapbook designed for keeping newspaper. For a wide selection of albums go to Google and typed in scrapbooks for newspaper clippings. A plethora of websites will give you all the help you need to find what you are looking for.
2.  Paper tubes are wonderful for storing large drawings, poster art, etc. Charlie is an artist. From the time he started to draw, his doodles, drawings and later, his diagrams were of ships. His father and I thought he would pursue a career in technical drawing, but alas, he did not, but to this day, he still draws pictures of ships. As he grew, so did the size of his drawings. The largest is a pencil and ink illustration of his most revered ship, the TITANIC. Charlie made multiple copies of this drawing. He even gave one to his high school teacher on his graduation day, and while he was a docent at our local maritime museum, he presented it to the director of the museum.

Solution to storing large drawings are to store them in paper tubes. Charlie has several of them and one already contained drawings. But he had many others and overwhelmed at how they were all going to fit.  So we laid out each and every drawing, unfurling them and making sure frayed edges were smoothed out and rips repaired. Then the drawings were lined up and firmly rolled back into place and slipped into the tube, date and contents noted.
 While doing this and before the copies were rolled up, I had Charlie take note of the TITANIC drawing hanging on his wall. I asked him if he saw any difference in the two drawings. At first he said no, but I told him to take a closer look at the writings in the picture. Getting close to it, he exclaimed, “Oh my, the writing is fading!” Yes, it sure was. So I explained how all artwork, be it a painting, photograph, reproduction work, etc., all fade with age and by light. Why do you think art museums take due-diligence protecting their artworks. So now, with him taking care to preserve and protect his drawings, when the day comes and his TITANIC drawing has faded and no longer enjoyable to look at, he can slip the preserved one from out of the tube and replace the faded one, and once again enjoy his master piece. When looking for paper tubes, check out

4. Storing items that are not flat, such as booklets, brochures, maps, and in Charlie's case, maritime memorabilia, such as past ocean liner menus, programs, even tiny ashtrays, need to be preserved in a box that is used exclusively for that purpose. Called "Memory Boxes" they are available at, Michael's Arts & Craft Stores, and When you use these boxes, to help with organizing the items inside, keep to a theme, i.e.: travel, souvenirs, cards & letters, etc. Make sure fragile items are wrapped in tissue paper, photographs in slip covers, and then fashion a list of contents with dates, places, etc. And don't over-stuff the box. It won't close properly and the idea of preservation is mute.

5. As for Charlie's bag of bags, it's entertaining. If he ever needs an odd gift bag or amusing tissue paper, he's got it. This reminds me of a few words my father said to me time  and again: "Lisbit, never throw anything away. You may need it later."

Conservation, preservation, keeping, storing, organizing - all of these activities are well-worth the time and energy you put into it. And my Millennium is learning many life-long lessons as he sorts, selects, keeps & disposes of newspaper clippings, artwork, collections and then some. And he is actually enjoying this endeavor. He gets to visit times, places, and things buried in his closet and in his memory, but now has been unearthed and enjoyed again. You should do the same!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Charm Bracelets - a mini-museum . . .

I believe in memory and the way objects are understood to hold memory, to tell stories and act as place markers. That is not only what a Family Museum is all about, a Charm Bracelet does the same – it holds memories. What makes them endearing is that there is a story contained in each and every one of those charms as they artfully jingle and dangle from wrists. Now back in fashion. Guess the trend is coming full circle.

When I was a child, I admired and longed to touch the sparkly charms swinging from silver or gold bracelets adorning fashionable women. I do not recall seeing such bracelets on my relatives or my mother’s wrist, but I do remember a stylish friend of hers having one in gold. She was rather wealthy, therefore, could afford such a collection of bubbles. I would have loved to of asked her questions about the origin and meaning of her charms, but alas, I was much too shy. Then one day my wish came true.

When I turned sixteen, my parents bought me a charm bracelet affixed with a collection of tiny trinkets that had absolutely no meaning or connection to me. The one and only befitting was the Sweet 16 Heart. The charms that still baffle me today are the ice cube tong, a cylinder cage with a pair of dice, a tambourine, a basket of flowers, a dagger, a wish bone and a cat. The cat I understand because I had several cats that drove my mother crazy. As time went on, charms that told of the important moments to me found their way onto my bracelet. My husband loved buying charms for me because they spoke a silent language of love. Eventually, my children bought me charms. That’s really what my charm bracelet is; a miniature storybook of my life. Now my bracelet is full of charms from the places I've visited, a myriad of milestones  and other meaningful events and people who are woven into the fabric of my life. And it’s not finished, as my story is still being told. 

The charm bracelet is a piece of jewelry so reflective of its wearer that it doubles as a figurative profile. I think that it is a bit of a disappointment that charm bracelets are not more explicitly defined as memory bracelets because it tells the story of a life. As the purpose of this blog is to encourage the preservation of family history, the charm bracelet can be used as a narrative device. Here’s a suggestion: if your Mother or Grandmother has a vintage charm bracelet, have them tell the stories their charms reveal. And have them do it in front of a video camera. This could be an incredible and easy way to gather and collect a part of their history that might otherwise be lost.

If you have a charm bracelet, look at it with new eyes. This is your story, a literal scrapbook of your life. Now, if you do not have one and always wanted one, it is never too late to start collecting the charms that represent your lifetime. You can either start with brand new gold or silver charms available at jewelry stores. The latest design in charm bracelets is the Pandora Bracelet with its
threading system and high-quality charm selection.They are a bit bigger than the traditional charms. Or you can go to an antique store and be overwhelmed by a plethora of vintage charms, some still attached to the chain bracelet or for sale individually. There is also an abundance of charms and bracelets available online. Here are two:  New silver & gold charms & bracelets  Vintage sterling silver charm bracelets 

Elegant, classy and fun, Charm Bracelets are a great way to make your own individual fashion statement. They are for the most part not name branded, or designer themed, and not all current and vintage charms are gold or silver.  There is a variety of others such as copper, brass, celluloid, plastic, wood, stones, gems, etc. You can collect an eclectic mix of charms representing your favorite hobbies, keeping them as spaced or as packed as you please, or you can search for charms of a single motif based on a theme, such as a Christmas bracelet.  Or they can even be a wacky.
For example, this one made from miniature foodstuffs. Charm bracelets can have a great sense of humor! So have fun putting a charm bracelet together for yourself as well as someone you love.

Any here is a bit more fun: Watch the movie “Auntie Mame” starring Rosalind Russell, and see her dangle her charm bracelets has she plays her role in a Broadway Play, upstaging the star and closing the show on its first night. What a hoot!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wednesday Wishes . . .

I wish I had a penny for all the memories I have lost. As Mark Twain said, “When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not . . .” Perhaps age does play a factor, but how can you keep those memories you still have alive? You can by creating your Family Museum.

The reason I am writing about this is because the other day my son Charlie asked me about the trip his father and I took to Hawaii many years ago. In fact, it was over thirty-eight years ago. And you know what? I couldn’t remember much about that vacation. He asked me if we took any pictures. I thought for sure we did, but after going through several photo albums from that time period, I couldn’t find one. Zilch!

So now I have to mentally recall that wonderful time since not only are there no photos, or least that I can find, I also have no keepsakes. However, I do remember getting two Hawaiian dolls for our daughter, who did not like them at all and were given away (I wish I still had them).

Feeling sad, I said to myself, there has got to be something that we bought and still have from that trip. So I wracked my brain and talked with my husband, who sometimes has a better memory then me. Putting our heads together, we remembered. The first memory was that of seeing the very popular entertainer, Don Ho and his show at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel. There he sang his hit song, Tiny Bubbles.    I recall his album being sold there, but we didn’t buy one. I bet if we did, we would still have it.

Other than the dolls, Keith bought himself a Hawaiian hat trimmed with Puka sea shells. That hat had seen its better day, but before it was discarded, the seashells were saved and now grace the fuzzy neck of Honey Bear. While on Maui we were thrilled to find vendors that sold fresh clams containing pearls. We knew this was a tourist thing but what the heck!
So I picked out my clam,
actually two clams because I wanted earrings, and lo and behold, I found the pearls, however, one was white and the other black. No earrings for me but when I got back home, I had them set into a ring that I still wear today. So the Puka shells are in the museum and I still wear my pearl ring. I guess we do have memories of Hawaii, but like Wednesday Wishes, I wish I had more.