Shadow boxes, object boxes and beyond

I walked into the hallway and saw a vast array of items, a phone table, old pictures on the wall and that unmistakable aroma of an old, well loved home… as we walked down the hallway more objects in other rooms came into view.

I was there to hang a few pictures and was duly shown where, and which ones with a warm smile from the neatly presented white haired lady in an apron. Mrs Bryant had lived in this home for many years, her husband built it after the war as so many did, her children were raised there and now there was just Mrs Bryant and her tawny ‘disinterested’ cat.

The home was quiet, apart from a radio playing softly in the kitchen, where she sat sipping tea and reading the paper. The pictures to hang were of family, grandkids and others dressed up for a wedding. These took pride of place on two walls and were easily hung.

“All done” she said as I packed my tools up. “Yes I am, I think they look good there don’t you think?” She smiled and nodded. She went on to say how the family have given her so much joy, so many memories of lovely family events. Loves the grand kids, “But they can be so noisy!” While I packed up I noticed a frame propped up on a stand on a small side table with a lace doily across its wax polished deep brown surface, it was quite big for the table I thought and in the half light through the voile curtains I could see it was no ordinary frame, it had a picture and was deeper than usual, I looked closer and saw it contained some small objects.

I wanted to move closer to have a look, but that would have been rude, so with some deft small talk about the other family images on the walls, Mrs Bryant soon led me around the room. It as if she was introducing the various members of the family. We got to the propped up frame and she ignored it for now as she pointed to an older photograph of her and her husband. “This was taken in the front yard here, not long after the house was finished and George had put in the first garden bed, right along this window just here”. She pointed to the window that looked out onto the front yard from the room we were in.

I then gestured to the propped up frame on the small table, I was now close enough to see the photograph was of a man in uniform. “Oh that, That’s George and some of the things he bought back from being posted overseas during the war, the kids have the medals, they wear them with pride at war memorial marches, I suspect the grandkids will be next.”

I moved closer, there was some pieces of metal, a spent bullet shell, a fork and some other items, all especially displayed in the frame. Mrs Bryant chimed in with “George always had those things in a box and he would bring them out from time to time to show the kids and tell stories that related to what they were and what they meant to him. Each item had its special place in his war stories, he would tell the children about places he had visited, people he had met, lot’s of good things, not the misery and pain, he always said there was too much of that.” She gave a slight sigh, a clear sign to move on. “A cup of tea before you head off?” She said “Yes please…” and a little while later I left with a few more stories of a family that lived in a warm home with vivid memories.

Since that day I have seen many object boxes, with medals, charms, items to remember, items of achievement, art works and general items of interest to the viewer. I see these as a fantastic way to record, remember, delight and build interest. I can imagine stories flowing from those who share the stories and the wonderment in those who listen to the stories.

Thanks Mrs Bryant, and all the wonderful people just like you with stories to tell, memories to preserve and the care for family that shines through all the hustle and bustle of life. May the memories so dearly held in your object box be a source of wonder for many generations to come.

Your friendly professional picture framer at The Picture Framing Shak can assist you with the planning and creation of your memory jogging object box, be it a simple item you treasure or a more complex array of items and images to share.

Steve Gray

The Picture Framing Shak

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