Slideshow: Click it and pitch it to preserve heirlooms through scrapbooking

Jessica Young

The upstairs closet is jam-packed with grandma’s organ songbooks and a slightly moldy, moth-eaten quilt. And the crawl space is brimming with dinosaur dioramas, finger-painted family portraits and mousetrap cars from a science fair project.

Although the generational hand-me-downs and grade-school crafts hold sentimental value, your home has only so much space. But purging your possessions isn’t the answer. To declutter your living quarters while preserving keepsakes and the memories attached to them, Archiver’s suggests using a scrapbooking method called “Click it and pitch it.” The technique allows you to take pictures of a family treasure, document its history and then retire the item by tossing it or putting it in storage.

“We have all of this bulk, and scrapbooking it is like relieving yourself of the task of collecting those things. This really lets you enjoy the items rather than feeling guilty over not being organized with it all,” said Jennifer Bockenstedt, marketing manager for the chain. “Keeping a log or inventory of things that are representative of a certain time or person in our lives is a great way to safeguard our memories.”

The system can be as simple as adhering photos of the item and/or the family using it onto a piece of paper and jotting a note about its importance and when it dates back to. Bockenstedt created scrapbook pages centered around toys her grandpa made her for Christmas. A picture of him putting together a Barbie minivan that she used when she was 9 was one of her favorites.

“It’s in shambles now, but I loved that thing, so it was a perfect piece to feature,” Bockenstedt said. “If something’s ratty or deteriorating, this is a nice option to freeze the image of that object in time in case you want or need to trash it.”

The avid scrapbooker also made an album with her mom commemorating her grandma. In front of an open window, Bockenstedt set up a makeshift studio with a white sheet and a pillow. They arranged knickknacks, crafts and old clothing on the set and did a photo shoot to get detail frames of her grandma’s coveted items.


“By no means does it need to be elaborate,” she said. “It’s more about capturing the accompanying story. Like ‘This was her favorite coat because she wore it when ... dadadadada.’”

Next up is figuring out what to do with everything that has accumulated over her son’s artistic phase.

“The amount of stuff I have just from the first year of preschool is daunting,” Bockenstedt said. “Putting this process into practice will help shrink down my load.

“Memories come in all shapes and sizes, and so many times it’s not about the thing itself but the meaning behind it,” she added. “Taking a picture gives us a tangible way to honor them and then have a convenient way to access the item. They help us hold onto our past while moving into the future.”

Tips from the Archiver’s experts:

• Pick a small grouping of objects and create a theme. This will make it easier to choose arty elements (i.e. matting, backgrounds, embellishments) that relate to all of the items.

• Choose a color palette and stick with it throughout the album.

• If you’re looking to preserve a quilt, linens, an embroidered handkerchief or even how a room was decorated, incorporate swatches on the page as part of the design. Use the color copiers at Archiver’s to get a shot of the pattern on the collectible.

“Why not take grandma’s apron or a curtain, copy it and use that as the background for your page?” said Andrea Wolbers, senior manager for the Downers Grove location.

• Original handwriting is precious. Copying a journal or recipe card lends a lot of credibility to the page and recreates the mood of the memory. A good copier can even capture the aged paper texture and creases.

• Don’t wait until someone passes away to memorialize their personality, hobbies or belongings. Have a multi-generational pow-wow to document a heirloom’s history and record all details in the book. While interviewing, make sure to get the five W’s.

• Scrapbooking can extend the life of the item because, rather than handling delicate items when nostalgia hits, a teapot or wedding dress can be safely stored in an archival box wrapped in acid-free tissues, and you can just flip through an easily accessible and less precious album instead.

My memories...

Pretending to be asleep, my sister and I squinted our eyes shut and ducked under the covers when my mom peeked in my uncle’s old bedroom. Satisfied that we were sufficiently drowsy, she’d back out, leaving the door ajar and returning to the card game.

Because our sleeping accommodations were just off the kitchen in my grandparents’ house, Nicole and I always drifted off to sounds of poker chips being tossed onto the table, mouths chomping on my Aunt Joyce’s famous trail mix and my grandma’s unconscious humming during lulls in the game.

Then the next morning, my relatives would humor us, letting us play bank with the poker chip set before we grew tired of it and rummaged through a closet for the Cabbage Patch Kids matching game cards, Mexican domino case and puzzles that were stowed there for us.

So it was a no-brainer when I came across my favorite childhood toys from visits to Neenah, Wis. I had to memorialize our play itinerary for this scrapbook assignment. I lugged the games to Archiver’s, and Erin O’Neill-Roach, the store’s district manager, helped me put together some nice memento pages.

My materials:

• 2 photos of my grandparents, who have since passed away

• Poker chip set

• Cabbage Patch Kids playing cards

• Mexican domino case

• Tom & Jerry puzzle

• Tupperware filled with Aunt Joyce’s trail mix

Optional scrapbooking tools:

• Fiskars microtip scissors and 12-inch paper trimmer combo package ($29.99)

• Kokuyo dot ‘n’ roller adhesive ($6.99)

PAGE 1: A 12x12-inch sheet of elegant, cream paper ($1.69) reading “relatively speaking,” “more than family” and “celebrating tradition” served as the background. We chose a sparkly chocolate brown matting paper (29 cents a sheet) to make the sepia-toned photo print from my grandparents’ 40th anniversary party ($1.49) pop. The photo anchored the page, and the other matted element was situated so that gold phrases on the background paper were visible. Then I added a cutout of one of the Cabbage Patch Kids cards and a couple of puzzle pieces as remnants of the cherished toys. And, to finish recording my memory, I used a lighter shade of thick paper for a journaling block.

PAGE 2: For a more whimsical approach, we chose a 12x12-inch sheet of background paper with a card suit pattern (69 cents). To match the color palette, we looked for red, black and gray matting paper (29 cents a sheet). For embellishments, we found a poker sticker set ($1.99) and little 3D playing cards (99 cents). To really set the 4x6-inch color photo print (39 cents) apart from the busy background, we matted it using all three colors. One of the stickers reading “Game night” on an Ace of diamonds acted as the title for the page. In keeping with the card theme of the page, each of the featured photos (poker set, trail mix and Mexican dominos; 39 cents each) was matted on red paper and fanned out across the top to simulate a hand of cards. Chip and dice stickers were sprinkled in open spots, and I used the heart suit stickers to serve as corners for the photo of my grandparents since they will always be in my heart. As a last touch, we added the 3D cards to the top of the journaling blocks to give them some extra pizzazz.

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