Tag Archives: memories

::Christmas collages::

Happy weekend! Just wanted to share a quick post to show you the final pieces I finished up for my friend a few weeks back. She’ll be framing these prints as a Christmas gift for her Father and I can’t wait to hear what he thinks!

If you had it in your mind to contact me to do some prints for Christmas gifts contact me soon! It’s hard to believe it but Christmas is only 6 weeks away.


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::a memorable Christmas gift::

Any time I receive an envelope with “DO NOT BEND” posted on the front and back I know it’s going to be something good.  It usually means photographs are inside! A few weeks ago I got one such envelope from a friend and client who is having me put together a Christmas gift for her Dad- a collection of family history collages.

We’re still debating what exactly to turn this into- maybe just 4 or 5 pieces to print and hang collage style on his walls, or possibly a short album… even without deciding entirely I started on creating the pieces.

Photographs like these just mesmerize me. The tones, colors, and expressions of the past represented are all hauntingly beautiful reminders of why I’m so glad I do what I do. Taking a photograph preserves so much- memories, people, lifestyles, fashion, environment, personalities, change.

Even simple things hardly preserved like a loved one’s written words and handwriting. My Grandma always writes on the back of her photographs just like this person did and seeing her writing, reflecting on her effort to record family times is powerful. I decided to scan in the back of these photographs and use it as part of the actual pieces.

My goal in creating these pieces is to present the viewer with several outlets for experiencing this memory… the photograph, artistic and aesthetic creation, and the handwriting of a loved one.  I have a few ideas spinning to create even more ‘memory outlets’ out of each piece which I’ll hopefully develop into concrete ideas.

The first piece is complete (above) and I can’t wait to see how the rest of these pieces turn out.  Can a Christmas gift be more meaningful and memorable?


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::a dress to remember::

It’s been such a solid week of editing, working on new project ideas, finishing up unpacking, starting a new job, and lots of other craziness that I almost forgot to blog something special! At the beginning of the summer I posted about sharon’s dress.  When Sharon got married last year, she wore the very same dress her mother wore in 1968.  Sharon had it updated and added a few finishing touches but it still had the same elegance and delicate beauty as when her Mom wore it.

For the project, Sharon and I met for a brief photoshoot. We took a few pictures of her in the dress, I took a few detail shots of the dress, and then I went to work, scanning in the photograph of her parents from their wedding day, editing the pictures from our shoot, and scanning and touching up a journal entry Sharon received from her mother that talked about the dress. I combined all of these elements into one large piece that Sharon had printed and will hang in her home and is also giving as a gift to her mother.

If you have any ideas for some digital collage work, please contact me.  All of the pieces I do are a combined effort with you to ensure your memories are displayed exactly as you want them.  I’m willing to do an entire book (like the one I did for my Grandparents which I’ll be sharing with you in another post), a collection of pieces, or just one piece you can share like I did for Sharon. Old letters, documents, photographs, or even raw materials (think a lace handkerchief of your great great grandmothers) can be combined to create these unique pieces.

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::spiritual moments::

I heard a sermon last week in which the preacher was talking about her experience on her family vacation in the Catskill mountains.  She mentioned this moment where she hiked alone to the nearby waterfall one morning, sat peacefully beside the stream, and dove into the clear mountain water. Immersed in the frigid water she felt renewed and refreshed. She said it was a ‘spiritual moment’ for her. One in which she felt complete, and spiritually whole.  She went on to describe what she did next.  She carefully collected small rocks-shiny and colorful, smooth and marbled, and placed them in a bag.  She was trying to gather mementos of this spiritual moment.  Mementos that she could place about her home, on her nightstand, her bathroom sink.  Things that could tangibly bring her back to that place of peace and wholeness, once her hectic life started to crack through her being.

The preacher then began to warn of the foolishness of this kind of living.  She said she felt like the rich young ruler who was storing up his earthly treasures. She told us to be complete people, we need to live beyond those spiritual moments, tuning in to our real feelings and emotions and embracing them when things are hard.  We need to be careful not to idolize good times, and not to limit God to our description of what a ‘spiritual moment’ is.

Although I liked the point she was trying to make about not limiting God to our own version of spiritual moments, I felt hesitant to embrace the idea that we can’t rely on great moments of peace and restoration to help us through.  The past few weeks that’s what I’ve been doing. Trying to suck the life out of this beloved place I call home.  Grabbing up moments and taking pictures as mementos before our trek back down south.

Like gathering green beans with my Grandpa in his garden and canning them back in the kitchen with Grandma.

Feeling the early summer sun beat down on my shoulders while squatting to pick strawberries with a friend.

Sharing a cold drink with my cousin, dipping our feet in the pool while he helps me shell a bushel of peas.

Enjoying a late night piece of pie with good neighbors.

Running through the beloved woods across the street.

Cooking and laughing together in the home of good friends.

Taking my sister out on a Friday night date.

Trekking up to the sheep barn and letting a baby lamb nuzzle up to my knee.

Hiking hills of blueberry bushes and picking peacefully with my family.

Spending the morning exploring the landscape with a beautiful child.

These pictures are my mementos. Beautiful memories I can rifle through weeks from now.

And my freezer and cupboards will be filled with mementos of the richness and goodness of my home that I can eat in the lonely winter months.

These are my spiritual moments.

The moments that get me through.

And if my efforts to grasp onto these people and this place is in vain, then that preacher can call me a fool.


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::intro to a dress to remember::

After seeing my work with my family history collages and book ideas, S contacted me a few weeks ago about doing a project to highlight and remember an important part of her wedding day.  She wore her Mother’s wedding dress and wanted to showcase the meaning this held for her as a bride.  I asked S what ‘materials’ we could work with and we have three elements I’m going to combine into a large family history piece for her- an old photograph of her Mother on her wedding day in the dress (1968), a journal entry her Mother hand wrote about the dress for her, and then this morning S and I went out a did a  mini photo shoot of her in the dress so we can combine a photograph or two of her! Here’s a few pieces to give you and idea of what I am going to be putting together for S…

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::family(part 16)history::

There are times that walk from you
Like some passing afternoon
Summer warmed the open window of her honeymoon
And she chose a yard to burn
But the ground remembers her
Wooden spoons, her children stir her Bougainvillea blooms
There are things that drift away
Like our endless numbered days
Autumn blew the quilt right off the perfect bed she made
And she’s chosen to believe
In the hymns her mother sings
Sunday pulls its children from their piles of fallen leaves
There are sailing ships that pass
All our bodies in the grass
Springtime calls her children until she lets them go at last
And she’s chosen where to be
Though she’s lost her wedding ring
Somewhere near her misplaced jar of Bougainvillea seeds
There are things we can’t recall
Blind as night that finds us all
Winter tucks her children in, her fragile china dolls
But my hands remember hers
Rolling around the shaded ferns
Naked arms, her secrets still like songs I’d never learned
There are names across the sea
Only now I do believe
Sometimes, with the window closed, she’ll sit and think of me
But she’ll mend his tattered clothes
And they’ll kiss as if they know
A baby sleeps in all our bones, so scared to be alone

-Sam Beam

My Grandmother Scholla, far right.

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::family(part 12)history::

One, two, three, four, five.  Five.

I have five Uncles.  My Grandmother had five sons.  Five.

Five boys.  One house.

One whole counted hand of converse sneakers, scraped knees, dirt and mud, baseball, blue jeans, late homework assignments, broken bicycles, stray animals, campouts, tree houses, bruised bodies, fist fights… my poor Grandmother.  I can’t even imagine.  And they are all so unique.

My Uncle Don is wise.  He pursued education and has a quiet but loving manner about him.

My Uncle Jim is the ace.  He’s talented at everything he does and can smooth talk his way out of anything.  He’s always got a wink and a sly smile ready.

My Uncle Chris is the joker.  He embraces his goofiness and can make my entire family cry from belly-aching laughter in 30 seconds flat.

My Uncle Doug is a ham.  He’s sincere to the core and gives the best hugs.

My Uncle Shawn is a sweetheart.  Everybody knows him, everybody loves him.

Five boys.

Five men.

Although this photo only features three of my Uncles, I love how much it captures their personalities.  Uncle Don the ‘wise’ and oldest is on the far right.  Uncle Jim the ‘ace’ is center, and Uncle Chris the ‘joker’ is far left.

Rushford Lake on a hot summer day.

Call your boys, now that the table is set and shining,
no one’s seen, them in many days,
Call your boys, they shot a buzzard off a Chrysler,
and you still taste, all that you swallowed before grace,
and you’ll forgive, even the time they burned the hen house,
and ran from you, and ran to the hills with burning hands,
setting sun, framed in the doorway right behind you,
several chores, surely some lessons left to tell,
setting sun, wolves in the hills are now before you,
sit you boys, each with their shining silverware,
they’ll bury you under wood beside the carport,
bury you, at some neon stop along the way,
radio fuzz, on the fencepost by the pasture,
long ago, Liza and you would dance all day,
now you lay, buried to stir and a sacred father,
in a sacred urn, under a billboard, in the rain,
but one last toast, here’s to the brave who went before us,
and died in vain, died in a movie for a dream.

-Sam Beam


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