Turn Memorabilia into Art

Your home should be a reflection of you:  what’s meaningful to you and brings you joy,  including your collections and memorabilia. If you’re keeping it, honor it by displaying it or keeping it accessible. How does it honor a keepsake by stashing it in a dusty box in the back of a forgotten closet?

I love using shadow boxes as a way of turning memorabilia into art. The list of ways to use them is endless: frame an athletic uniform or ballet shoes, baby clothes, medals, vintage linens, gloves, jewelry, etc. If it’s thicker than a picture, shadow boxes are the answer to displaying items you want to remember. If you don’t want to remember it, why are you keeping it 😉 ? Out of sight is out of mind so having it displayed in your home is a method of personal expression of what’s meaningful and valuable to you.

preserving memories

So I have a collection of matches that dates from 20+ years ago. My father used to collect matchbooks and toss them in a fish bowl in his closet so I guess that’s where I started. Every restaurant used to give them away so it was a wonderful memento. Now it’s rare to see them in restaurants so I’ve stopped looking for them. However, I still had some boxes full of them that I decided to practice what I preached and put them to use.


I got the shadow box from Michael’s but you can find them lin other craft stores. I knew I had quite a collection and wanted it to be a fun display (and a trip down memory lane).

preserving memories

I went through the collection and pulled out my favorites. Most were from restaurants and hotels I had visited during my corporate days 20 years ago. A lot are no longer in business.

I grouped them together by type: fold-over, vertical box and horizontal box and laid them out in a balanced format. I didn’t group them together by color or location. I just wanted a neat layout that would be fun to look at. 🙂

Using a glue gun to attach the matchbook to the base, I was finished 15 minutes later! It was a simple project that didn’t take much time but has given me a way to enjoy again memories of some really fun times!

preserving memorabilia

I guess I don’t have to remind you that I’m an organizer, not a photographer. 😉 Anyway, this is the finished product and I love seeing it in my kitchen! What collection can you turn into artwork in your home?

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5 Comments on “Turn Memorabilia into Art”

  1. Any ideas on how to use the beautiful vintage cigar boxes? Martha Stewart makes purses but I’m not interested in that approach. I’d like something that looks lovely around the house. Thanks for your help.

    1. I would just clean up the cigar boxes and use them around the house. You could store matches or even remote controls in there. They are great boxes for a variety of storage options: keys, glasses, wallet, etc.
      Good luck and thanks for reading!

  2. Thank you Carrie for your help. Do you have a recommended way to clean the cigar boxes? Mine date back to the late 1950s and early 1960s when my parents owned a store. My dad repurposed them and used them in his office to hold receipts, etc. from the store.

    1. I’d try using some white vinegar and water in a spray to get rid of the cigar smell, assuming that’s what you’re trying to clean. 🙂

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