Decor – Memorabilia Displays

Shadowboxes are a great way to display memorabilia such as travel souvenirs, vintage items, or personal heirlooms.  By having these items protected under glass you and your family, along with the visitors to your home, can enjoy looking at them while keeping these items protected from any damage.   Over the years I have made several shadowboxes that are displayed throughout our home and in this post I will show these examples.

Travel souvenirs

As I mentioned previously in a July 2013 Décor Post, Displaying Travel Souvenirs, in the library of our home nestled among the books are several items that we have collected over the years during our travels across the United States and other distant places such as Europe and Asia.  I have found that shadowboxes are an excellent way to display these travel souvenirs.  One example, shown below, is the shark weapon that we purchased on a visit to the Polynesian Culture Center in Hawaii.  This beautifully crafted piece is displayed in a shadowbox to be admired but the real purpose for having it behind glass is that the sharp edges of the shark teeth are enclosed to prevent anyone from handling this dangerous weapon.  Several other smaller shadowboxes are also displayed on the bookshelves and the examples are shown below and they are: a framed piece of Edelweiss purchased in a small shop near Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, a small piece of brick from the home of Abraham Lincoln located in Springfield, IL and a piece of cable that we purchased at the San Francisco Cable Car Museum.

Hawaiian travel souvenirs
Germany travel souvenir    Springfield travel souvenir

San Fransico travel souvenir

Discussed in the May 2013 Décor Post, Framing Small Items, during our family road trips, I always purchase pins as inexpensive souvenirs and over the years I have collected hundreds.  These pins, shown below, are displayed in special walnut cases with black liners.  Also shown below are additional cases, one case displays my collection of Hard Rock Café guitar pins purchased during over visits to the restaurants throughout our travels and in another case is a very small part of my collection of over two hundred Disney pins.

Pin collection 2  Pin collection 1
Pin collection 4    Pin collection 3

Another memorabilia display featuring travel souvenirs can be found in our basement displayed above my Disney bookshelves.  It is a vintage Disneyland pendant in a black shadowbox and is shown in the photo below.    As I mentioned previously in the April 2013 Decor Post, Disney Memorabilia Collection, I go into details about my Disney obsession and the items that I have collected over the years.

Disneyland pendant shadowbox

So, instead of storing your travel souvenirs in boxes which are hidden away from view, try displaying them in shadowboxes or special display cases which allow you to look at these items while the items are protected from dust or damage and you will be able enjoy the memories of your travels!

Vintage items

As many of you know from reading previous posts, I enjoy browsing and shopping in antique stores and on EBay.  Over the years I have purchased many vintage items and scattered around our home are several small and unusual framed items which add personality and interest to our home decorations.  In the May 2013 Décor Post, Framing Small Items, I featured a shadowbox that is on display in my home office that contains commemorative medals of the British Kings and Queens that I had purchased inexpensively on EBay.  The pins, shown below, range from Queen Victoria to the present Queen Elizabeth II and it is a wonderful way to have a little piece of interesting history.

Framed collectible 3

In another Décor Post, Framed Jewelry, posted previously in February 2014 features several vintage jewelry items that I also purchased while shopping in antique stores and on EBay.  These vintage jewelry pieces look wonderful displayed in small frames and add an elegant touch to our home décor.  Shown below is a beautiful crystal fur clip which is attached to a piece of white velvet and displayed in a small gold frame.

Framed Fur clip

Recently, one of my Spring cleaning projects was organizing the closet in our master bedroom.  The room is a rather large walk-in closet with a counter positioned in the center and has a wonderful and convenient chute to the laundry room downstairs.  The room also has useful built-in shelving where I have displayed two shadowboxes, which are shown below.  One shadowbox has a set of antique lace collars and cuffs while the other one has a pair of antique men’s spats.  Using these antique items displayed in the closet seemed perfect and I think they look great!

Vintage women's lace collar and cuffs    Vintage men's spats

So, next time you are shopping in antique stores or on EBay think about how you can decorate with vintage items displayed in shadowboxes in your home.

Personal heirlooms

Showcasing family memorabilia or heirlooms is a wonderful way to add a personal touch to any home.  In a May 2013 Décor Post, Framing Small Items, I featured quite a unique item displayed in a shadowbox.  The items, shown in the photo below, are a personal letter and a religious medal from Pope John Paul II and included in the shadowbox is a photo taken on the day of our daughter’s baptism. This is an example of how these very personal items can be displayed to commemorate a blessed event.  For more information about this shadowbox and to read the story of how we came to receive these special items, please click on the link above. 

Framed collectible 1a    Childhood beach shovel

The next item of family memorabilia is an old rusty beach shovel shadowbox display, shown in the photo above.  When I was a child living in California, our family used to enjoy the occasional day at the beach.  This old metal beach shovel, found in my parent’s garage.  The trick to making this type of shadowbox is finding one that has enough depth to accommodate the shovel and then using a piece of sandpaper for the background of the shadowbox because it would look like the sand on the beach, finally the shovel was attached to the paper with hot glue.  Seeing the beach shovel shadowbox hanging in our downstairs bathroom brings back wonderful memories of Paradise Cove.

The next two examples of family memorabilia are framed items of clothing which are shown below.  The first is one of our daughter’s baby outfits and I also included a baby photo of her in a small gold frame, these items are simply displayed in a white shadowbox.  The second shadowbox which contains our daughter’s 5th grade graduation t-shirt and it is hung in her bedroom, she likes looking at the names and remembering her classmates.

Cassie shadowbox 2    Cassie shadowbox 1

The final example of a family memorabilia shadowbox was used a few years ago when my husband’s Grandmother passed away.  She was an artist and for her funeral/memorial services and we displayed several of her paintings and other pieces of artwork and her art ribbons won at local fairs and competitions was arranged in the shadowbox and also put on display at the funeral home.  Sadly, if you are ever put in the position of making funeral arrangements or planning a funeral service, it is always a thoughtful idea to add some items that were of personal interest to the deceased.  When these items are displayed among photos of the deceased, along with the floral arrangements, it helps to “tell the story” of the person’s life.

Grandma Hodge's art ribbons

So, memorabilia shadowboxes can be used to decorate and add personality to the home.  These items can be travel souvenirs, vintage pieces and family heirlooms. For another idea using shadowboxes, please be sure to check out next week’s Craft Post, Childhood Shadowboxes, for an easy and simple craft project to use as a display in your home.

Decor – Displaying Travel Souvenirs

Library bookshelf left   Library bookshelf middle   Library bookshelf right

As I have mentioned before, when decorating our home, my design plan is to surround our family with things that have special meaning to us.  Traveling across the country on road trips and visiting distant places in Europe and Asia is one of our family’s favorite ways of spending time together.  During our trips we have collected a large number of special travel souvenirs and most of these items are displayed in the bookshelves in the library while other travel items are framed and hanging on the walls in the various rooms of our home.  We enjoy looking at these travel souvenirs and remembering the wonderful places we have visited.

One of the keys to displaying travel souvenirs is thinking about how the items will be framed.  For items that have some depth, I have found that shadowboxes are an excellent way to display those souvenirs.  As an example is the shark tooth weapon that we got at the Polynesian Culture Center in Hawaii.  This wonderful piece of craftsmanship is beautifully displayed in a shadowbox but the real purpose of the frame is to that the sharp edges of the shark teeth are enclosed to prevent anyone from handling this dangerous weapon.  In front of the shadowbox is a piece of driftwood draped with a Hawaiian shell and nut lei.  On the same shelf is a photo of our daughter dressed in her Hawaiian outfit that was taken at the Polynesian Culture Center display in a frame embellished with bamboo and palm trees, also displayed on the shelf is the artificial Hawaiian floral that she is wearing in the photo.  On the other side of the photo is a small glass jar filled with black sand from Hawaii and shells we had gathered from the beach during our trip.  Also displayed nearby is a small frame with a small trinket of seashells and straw that I bought in Honolulu.  All these items are a wonderful way to remember our fantastic trip to Hawaii and are an example of grouping travel souvenirs that tell the story of a vacation trip.  (For some travel suggestions on what to see and do in Hawaii, please click on the link)

Hawaiian travel souvenirs

Several years ago on our trips to Europe and Asia, we brought back some really interesting souvenirs.  We visited Berlin for my husband’s high school reunion and on a shelf we have displayed a piece of the Berlin Wall and a photo of us in front of the Brandenburg Gate.  When my husband lived in Berlin back in the 1970s, the Berlin Wall stood behind the Brandenburg Gate dividing East and West Berlin.  So, when we visited in 1998 the wall had been taken down and the one of the first things after getting off the plane was that my husband wanted to walk through the Gate, something he couldn’t do all those years ago.  Also, displayed on the shelf is a photo of my son standing at the train station in Eichstatt Stadt in southern Germany, an area where his father’s ancestors immigrated from a century ago.  On another nearby library shelf, is a shadowbox framed piece of Edelweiss that I bought at a small little shop near Neuschwanstein Castle, for more information about the fairytale castle of Ludwig II of Bavaria please click on the link.  Edelweiss is known as the flower of love in this alpine region of Europe and was made famous from the song in the “Sound of Music” movie.

Berlin travel souvenirs    Germany travel souvenir

Other European souvenirs are also displayed in the library; the first one is from a trip to Poland that we took in 1998.  In a small shop located in the town square, we bought a certificate printed on parchment paper that commemorates our visit to Krakow.  The other travel souvenir sitting in front of the framed certificate are Polish dolls dressed in traditional folk costumes of Krakow, my mother gave me these dolls a few years ago.  (For more interesting information about Krakow, please click on the link)

Poland travel souvenirs     China travel souvenirs

Nearby, on another shelf in the library are travel souvenirs that my husband brought back from a trip he took to Asia in 1999.  Displayed is a framed photo of my husband with the college master’s program group he went with to China and Japan, they are in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.  Sitting in the front of the photo is a set of jade door lions that my husband bought in China.

Over the years our family has been very fortunate to have travel to various states across the country.  We have scrapbook albums filled with photos.  Displayed on our library shelf is a framed photo of our family when we went to the Kennedy Space Center in 2010.  To make a fun display, I added a book on earth and space and a small plastic space shuttle that my daughter got in the souvenir store.  (For more information about the Kennedy Space Center, please click on the link)

Kenedy Space Center travel souvenirsLibrary bookshelf 4

Sometimes, we like to select unusual items on our road trips.  When we went to Springfield, IL a couple of years ago and visited the home of Abraham Lincoln, in the bookstore at NPS Visitor Center we purchased a souvenir piece of the Lincoln’s home and I framed this little piece of history in a shadow box.  Another unusual item we purchased was when we were living in California, we had taken a great trip to San Francisco and had arranged a special trip on an antique fire truck that takes visitors through the city of San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge; we also rode the famous cable cars.  Displayed on the shelf downstairs in our “California Room” basement, I framed a small water coloring of the Golden Gate Bridge in a shadowbox and I added a souvenir piece of the cable from the San Francisco cable car line.

Springfield travel souvenir     San Fransico travel souvenir

Décor Note:  Please check out some of our other travel souvenirs that have been highlighted in two previous Décor posts, “Decorating with Plates” and “Not Your Normal Wall Art!”  Also check out the April Décor post, “Disney Memorabilia Collection” for ideas on decorating with Disney souvenirs.

I hope this post will inspire some ideas for displaying your travel souvenirs!