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Digging for Ancestors: An In-Depth Guide to Land Records by Michelle Goodrum

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Crafting Genealogy: Family Photo Blocks

Family Photo BlocksWelcome back to Crafting Genealogy! This time around we’re going to make some Family Photo Blocks. This project is really easy, inexpensive and can be done in just an hour or so.

Let’s gather our supplies and get started. You’ll need:

Children’s blocks or pieces of wood


Acrylic paint/small craft paint brushes


Copies of family photos

Modge Podge

Gathering our supplies

My husband bought the children’s blocks I used. He loves to bargain hunt and stops at garage sales, yard sales, etc. So he bought some older blocks at one of the sales he stopped at. As you can see it was a few blocks, not a complete set, so I was limited in some of my options. I was able to pick out the words “Our Family” and spelled that out with the blocks. I used the rest of the blocks to add my photos.

You could also use some scraps of wood instead of children’s blocks. If you have a spare 2×4 or 2×6 you could cut them into small blocks for this project.

Rough them up with a little sanding

First off I grabbed a piece of sandpaper and sanded the corners to make sure they had a worn, distressed look. I like most of my craft projects to look like they’re old and vintage. I wiped the blocks off with a cloth after sanding to make sure there wasn’t any dust clinging to them for the next step.

Family Photo Blocks

Painting. I decided to use a two step method to paint the blocks. I’m only painting a side or two on each of my spare blocks. First I put a base coat of gray on the side of the blocks where I’m adding the photos. I used gray because that was the color I had on hand. You could use any color or none at all. When the gray paint dried I put some Vaseline on the edges of the blocks. Some blocks had a little more Vaseline than others and you’ll be able to see that in the finished product.

The Vaseline keeps the second coat of paint from sticking to the previous coat. So with the Vaseline applied I put the yellow topcoat of paint over both layers. Once this top coat dried completely I used fine sandpaper on the corners of the yellow painted sides to reveal some of the gray underneath giving the blocks a distressed look. If I sanded off too much yellow I went back and painted over that area.

Since my blocks were small I used very small photos. I picked a few out of my stash of copied family photos. With the wet adhesive used in this project you’ll need prints from a laser printer or printed professionally from Walgreens or WalMart. Ink jet photo copies will smear with this adhesive. I love using my vintage family pics but current photos work just as well. Once I chose my pics I cut them down to fit the blocks.

Using the Modge Podge I put a light coat of adhesive on the painted side of a block. I let it sit for just a moment to dry to a tacky state. Then I added a light coat of Modge Podge to the back of the photo. Now I pressed the photo on the block. I tapped the photo with the end of my paint brush to make sure the edges of the pic were pressed down. Finally I added a light coat of Modge Podge over the block and pic to seal it. I let the Modge Podge dry completely and then I arranged my finished blocks.

Family Photo Blocks

I completed my Family Photo Blocks in just a couple of hours and used supplies I already had on hand. I think the next batch I make I’ll use scrap wood pieces cut a little larger. Although I really like my finished project here, larger blocks will allow me to use larger photos and I’ll also be able to use any color scheme I’d like. Either way these Family Photo Blocks are a fun, easy project and would be great to do with the kids and grandkids. Enjoy Crafting Genealogy!!

Crafting Genealogy: Vintage Clipboard Memories

Crafting Genealogy Vintage Clipboard MemoriesThis time at Crafting Genealogy we’re going to make a different kind of display for our vintage family photos. We’re using old wooden clipboards in a cool, artful way. We’ll use scrapbook paper, whatever crafts supplies you have around the house and add in your creativity. So let’s get started!


Old wooden clip boards. I like the beat up kind from flea markets but I’ve seen new wooden ones at the Dollar $tore or WalMart.

Decorative paper – Scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, old book pages, sheet music, maps, etc.


Copies of family pics, old postcards, etc.

Adhesive like glue stick or double-sided tape

Foam adhesive squares (for dimension)

Acrylic paint, ink pad

Various odds and ends like ribbon, buttons, flowers, and so on.

Crafting Genealogy Vintage Clipboard Memories

Supplies for Vintage Clipboard Memories

I had three old wooden clipboards tucked away in my basement so I grabbed those for this project. Two were full size and one was half size. They’ll make a nice wall arrangement.

First I decided which background paper I wanted for each clipboard, then traced the clipboard shapes and cut the paper out. As you can see from the photos my papers weren’t long enough to cover the entire clipboard so I added a different paper as a border along the bottom of the larger ones. You can also use two or three different decorative papers on a board, add ribbon or lace to the bottom whatever catches your eye.

I’d say the most difficult part of this project is cutting your paper to fit around the clip at the top of the board. On one board I didn’t come close to cutting it out to fit neatly around the clip. (That’s the board with the kids and dog photo.) I didn’t think it took away from the appearance so I just left it. You can always patch with coordinating paper or add some ribbon or lace.

Next I glued the background papers to the clipboards. I had a hard time trying to get my paper lined up on the first clipboard after I covered it with Modge Podge. So I decided to get my decorative paper lined up first on the clipboard, using the clip to help hold it in place. Then I lifted the edges and put the Modge Podge underneath the paper onto the board. I worked in small areas making sure I kept the paper lined up on my board and then smoothed it out. This worked much better. I wasn’t frustrated trying to pry up glued down paper to readjust it so it fit evenly on the clipboard.

Crafting Genealogy Vintage Clipboard Memories

Now it’s time to glue our decorative papers to the clipboards

Once the decorative papers are adhered the fun begins! This next part gives you a chance to put your creativity to work. I wanted more than just the plain decorative pages for backgrounds. So I embellished those papers. First I used an ink pad. I ran the pad around the edges of the paper giving it a nice worn look. Then I took acrylic paint (I use the 87 cent a bottle kind) and painted around the bottom of a bottle of water. Pressing the bottle bottom to the paper gave me the broken circles I used on one of the boards. I also painted bubble wrap and pressed it to another board and got an interesting effect. I spattered paint on one board for a different result. I like a vintage, aged feel to my projects and these techniques help to achieve that look.

Crafting Genealogy Vintage Clipboard Memories

Now let’s add our photos!

The next step is layering backgrounds as a type of mat for the photos you’re using. I made sure they coordinated with my backgrounds and the pics. Tearing some decorative papers for different shapes and rougher edges adds to the vintage feel. I spent a little bit of time on this portion adding and subtracting to get the look I wanted. I smudged some ink on these papers too adding an aged look. Once I settled on my layout I adhered the base paper to the clipboard but used foam squares on the pics and additional embellishing pieces to give a little dimension to the layout.

I didn’t add names or dates to the clipboards but they could be included with old labels or tags. You could do this project using current school photos, Christmas or vacation photos if vintage isn’t your style.

Crafting Genealogy Vintage Clipboard Memories

Putting on the finishing touches

I hope you’ll try crafting your own Clipboard Memories. If you do and make your own variation of it, please send me a pic or two. I’ll share them in a future post giving all of us even more ideas and inspiration.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some clipboards to hang in my office. In the mean time have fun Crafting Genealogy!

Crafting Genealogy Vintage Clipboard Memories

#52 Ancestors Meets Up With #Crafting Genealogy again

Ancestor-o-dex completed card

Ancestor Rolodex

Do you remember way back in January when we all committed to #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks? This brilliant idea by Amy Johnson Crow encouraged us all to . . . 

. . . have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

What a great idea! Not only should it get me blogging more, but also motivate me to take a deeper look at some of the people in my family tree.”

Well I did just that . . . . for awhile. The plan was I’d write each week about one of my ancestors then I would dedicate a rolodex card to them. See the explanation of that post here. Each card would have a copy of a pic, a memory or whatever struck me at the time. I’d use my vast stash of decorative paper and whatever bits of ribbon, twine, buttons, etc. I had. I was certain working with such a small canvas would ensure I’d get it done every week.

Well . . . that didn’t exactly happen either! Oops! But this past weekend I did work on my ancestor Rolodex file.

Gathering supplies: Rolodex cards, copies of pics, decorative paper

Gathering supplies: Rolodex cards, copies of pics, decorative paper

I grabbed several blank Rolodex cards, copies of my family pics, glue stick, ink pad and leftover pieces of my scrapbook paper. First I glued some background papers to my Rolodex cards.

Trying several layouts before gluing anything down

Trying several layouts with pics and papers

Once I had my photos where I wanted them I glued everything down. I also used an ink pad around the edges and corners. I love the vintage look ink gives this kind of project.

The finished Rolodex cards. I did write names in those blank boxes.

The finished Rolodex cards. I did write names in those blank boxes.

I do identify all ancestors before they go in the Rolodex file. I’m hoping to get several more cards done before Christmas when my older daughters come home. Who knows maybe this will spark a conversation or two! I’m always hoping to share a bit of family history with them.

In the mean time have fun Crafting Genealogy!

Crafting Genealogy: Beautiful Botanicals

Crafting Genealogy - Beautiful Botanicals

Beautiful Botanicals

Welcome back to Crafting Genealogy! This month we’re going to add a little color to our lives with these Beautiful Botanicals. I’m using them as bright and spirited holiday ornaments. They’ll be beautiful on my Christmas tree but could also be used as a tie on for a gift or maybe as a finishing touch to another craft project (book cover, front of greeting card, etc.). If you usually add a few hand-crafted items to your holiday giving these ornaments are ideal. This project barely takes an hour to complete and works well with any skill level. So get the kids to help and let’s get started Crafting Genealogy.

Gathering our supplies is easy:

* Glittery Botanicals – I bought these at Michaels after the holidays but all crafts stores have their Christmas decorations out now. So wander down the aisles and see what you can find.

* Copies of vintage family pics – this time I’m using portrait pics. They fit this project better.

* Paper – I used a page from an old dictionary and book but use scrapbook paper or whatever you have that compliments your botanicals.

* Decorative scissors, cookie cutters, etc. – I used these for different background shapes for the paper

* Glue – I used a glue stick and wet glue like Aleene’s for this project

* Chenille stems (optional)

* Ribbon, buttons, etc.

* Hanger (optional)

Crafting Genealogy - Beautiful Botanicals

Gather your supplies

First off I decided which way I wanted my botanicals to hang. A couple have the stems up and a couple have stems down. On those that have the stem at the top I made a loop out of the stem for a hanger. Those with the stems down I looped and knotted a piece of thread for a hanger. You can use fishing line, thin wire, dental floss or even a twist tie for your hanger. It’s on the back so no one will see it.

Next take your old book or dictionary pages to make a background for your photo Botanical. I eyeballed the size I would need depending on my leaf or branch size. I used decorative scissors to cut out one of the backgrounds but I also traced a tin, or use a cookie cutter, jar lid, even free-hand cut out your decorative background. I like the uneven variations better than perfect circles or ovals.

Crafting Genealogy - Beautiful Botanicals

Cutting out shapes

Now cut your photo copies just a bit smaller than the background. Decide how much of an edge you want behind each pic. Once everything is cut out lay your photos and backgrounds on your Botanicals. Make any adjustments and when you’re pleased with the layout glue the photos to the background (I’ll use a glue stick for this step) and then glue the background to the Botanicals (I’ll use small drops of liquid glue for this step to assure my photos/backgrounds are firmly adhered.

Finally add a few embellishments. I took some chenille stems and twisted them to make frames for some of my pics. (See photo) Add buttons, tie bits of ribbon or lace into bows or add the person’s name.

Crafting Genealogy - Beautiful Botanicals

Voila! Beautiful Botanicals

Your finished Botanicals will look great on your Christmas tree, holiday wreath, as a gift tie-on or string together as a banner. You’re bound to have kids or grandkids ask who the people in the photos are and what a great opportunity you’ll have to share some family history.

I hope you’ll try crafting your own Beautiful Botanicals. If you do and make your own variation of it, please send me a pic or two. I’ll share them in a future post giving all of us even more ideas and inspiration.

In the mean time have fun Crafting Genealogy!