In this post I want to share some ideas specifically for using memorabilia that you don’t want to alter in any way – even with the addition of an adhesive substance. These may be things that belong to someone else, an older relative, say; or the family collectively that you are momentary carer of, those that have been handed down through the generations. Or maybe you have other things that you want to keep in their whole form for whatever reason, they are identifying items relating to your own personal history or relationships with significant people in your life. These are the things you perhaps consider not your own but heirloom items and they may require a little more care than you think is necessary for your everyday ephemera.So what exactly are we talking about here. Old love letters from say your grandfather to your grandmother; School records (yours or relatives/ancestors) or war records; Birth/Marriage/Death certificates; Religious records – baptisms/christenings, confirmations, church/parish registers; Stories documented by other family members – maybe they wrote/typed out stories from their own life or things like my Nan’s genealogical records; Passenger lists or other travel/immigration related materials; Newspaper clippings (or in my case whole school newspapers); Personal ephemera – handwritten recipes, cards or notes received; unique items relating to relationships, – ie the hay-band my husband gave me as a ‘ring’ when he proposed in person (long story).All of these un-alterable additions could benefit from some creative thinking when it comes to including them in your scrapbooks. A simple method that’s an oldie but a goodie is to use photo corners. You can use them in any colour you can find to add interest or as a design feature or you can go for clear like I did in my Baptism layout to make them blend into the background. One of my personal favourites for including memorabilia but especially stuff that I don’t want to change is to use a pocket. They can be as simplistic or fancy as you like, make a pocket from cardstock, vellum or patterned paper by simply using double-sided tape, stitching or some other fastener like staples on three sides of it, leave the most convenient side (design-wise), open to slide your item into and voila. Or use something pre-made as your pocket depending on the size of the item your housing: an envelope, glassine bag, decorative pocket, die-cut shape or if the item is on the large side a die-cut paper to add a decorative element, even plastic coin pockets. When using a plastic pocket though, you want to make sure that it is made of either a polyester(PET), or polypropylene(PP) material as these have the best archival safe qualities, you’ll find that most document sleeves/plastic pockets are polypropylene.
For these types or layouts I will admit that I often do them as part of a double page spread that will include photos on one half of the layout – usually not the side where I am storing the item or memorabilia. This is to avoid any transfer of material (like chemicals and acids in the item) to affect the photograph or memorabilia or vice versa. I am also more likely to be at my most archivally aware for these kinds of layouts too even though generally speaking I don’t tend to worry about it. It’s as much about physical preservation as it is about memorializing them. If it is really a concern of yours that you don’t alter the item in any way at all there is always the option to photograph or make a colour copy to use that as a stand in and then store the original elsewhere. Depending on what it is and what paper stock you use sometimes you can hardly tell the difference between the copy and the original. Whether in your albums or elsewhere you want these types of things to be kept out of direct sunlight and away from the elements to preserve it. Fluctuations in temperature, exposure to light and humidity, oils, chemicals and products on our hands or the types of products we choose to use on a layout (like some wooden embellishments) are all considerations when it comes to the longevity of the things we want to preserve.
Some items like newspapers should obviously not be in contact with photos. The ph or acid content of these kinds of papers tend to deteriorate over time and can affect anything they may be touching – such as photos or other paper. It is the ph level of these types of papers that causes them to become yellow and brittle over time. Treating them with an archival spray is always a good idea as it neutralizes the ph to bring it to a more balanced level but going the extra step to keep them separate can help the longevity of the item.
You may well ask why you would consider including these sorts of ‘precious things’ in your albums or why it is even necessary to worry about taking the time or effort to avoid altering certain things. Clearly I don’t have a problem including bits of memorabilia or ephemera in my albums but I do think some things might be precious to people other than myself and if they want to do some other form of memory keeping after I’m gone they should have the option. As a scrapbooker I feel that my scrapbooks are the most appropriate and logical location for anything that relates to my or my family’s collective story. It is somewhere that they will be viewed and enjoyed on a somewhat regular basis, I would much prefer to include an item on a layout and actually enjoy and look at it than let it languish in a box somewhere deteriorating or forgotten and eventually thrown out. For me, I draw joy from these kinds of things and acknowledging the wonderful people who came before me or the relationships I have now is all a part of that.You may even consider using some of these methods for displaying ‘one-off’ items of current memorabilia such as your childs first drawing from school or your own love letters/ special correspondence with your spouse. What other items do you think would benefit from a little ‘special treatment’?