Life By The Seat Of My Pants

Archive for September 2011

My Dad was a musician, a jack of all trades and my HERO. He was my biggest supporter and always an inspiration.  He passed away when I was 19 from a massive heart attack and I deeply regret being a rebellious teenager and not spending more time with him when I had the chance.  Looking back I can remember vividly some of the conversations we had and the lessons he taught me.  I would give ANYTHING to spend just one more day with him, ask him questions, let him see my life and meet my husband and son. And while I could go on and on, this post is not about regret. This is a celebration and an honoring of my Father and our relationship.

His birthday was September 28 and in honor of his birth month I created a memory book to place on my altar.  I wanted to include my most vivid memories of him and pay tribute to him in the best way I knew how. I wanted to incorporate his love of music, his individuality and his personality. Every single image or piece of ephemera has special meaning to me and looking at this book brings back all the best parts of him flooding to my mind and heart.

I wanted to share my process and the meaning behind the images and ephemera with all of you and I hope you enjoy this post.  If you would like to create your own altered memory book, you can find the directions here.


Several months ago I saw a project on and I knew IMMEDIATELY that I wanted to create my own for my Dad. It was an altered book with sliding drawers for secret treasures and it was designed to be placed open on an easel for display.

I began by altering an old book, gluing pages together and carving out the slots for my matchbox drawers. You can click on all photos to enlarge them.

Next I distressed my pages, added collage and images and began placing bits of ephemera in just the right spots.


After the basic project was well on its way to completion I started working with the real embellishments.  I painted each of the matchboxes and added some of the same scrapbook paper to the background to tie them in with the book pages. Each drawer has a different theme or special meaning to me. My Dad ALWAYS wore a cowboy hat (or baseball cap) and his dress hat ALWAYS had a feathered hatband and lots of hatpins. Due to a mishap with a dog (that I no longer own!) I had some of his hatband feathers in a ziplock bag in my jewelry box. I created a mini hatband to place on one corner of the book.   I then used Creative Paperclay to create a base for one if his hat pins. It would not sit upright on its own and I did not want to use glue on it for fear of ruining it. I created a simple block of clay and pushed the hatpin (back and all) into the block and let it dry. I then glued the block into one of the drawers.


My Dad collected Avon decanters and always wore Wild Country cologne. For the second drawer, I collaged the label from the cologne into the background. Then using a puffy glue tab for dimension, I stuck a photocopied replica of one of his decanters in the corner. I distinctly remember playing with his ‘phone’ decanter often. The bottle had the cologne and the black ear piece had powder in it  🙂

My Dad had dyslexia and since schools didn’t understand that sort of thing in the 40’s (and couldn’t help him learn to read) he quit school in third grade and began working to help take care of his family. Very few people knew it, but my father could not read. As I was learning to read in elementary school, so was he. He NEVER read me a book, but he TOLD me a bedtime story every single night. He made up the most wonderful bedtime stories imaginable and I even wrote one down and “published” my favorite when I was n the eighth grade. It was called “The Little Black Bird” and our submission won me a place in a program at school that allowed me to travel and read my book to elementary school students in the area.

Next came the hard parts. My Dad was an (AWESOME!!!!)  guitar player (always a Fender Strat) and he played lead guitar and was the lead singer in one band or another his whole life. I had ripped apart a Guitar Hero guitar and was planning on using the top of the neck for the top of my book. The problem came with attaching it to the book. Paperclay to the rescue! I created another block of Paperclay, stuck the neck into it and glued it to the top of the book. I was then able to add more Paperclay to the underside to even it up and make it more secure. I painted the whole block gold to blend with the book.


I wanted the entire piece to look like a guitar, so I also created a Paperclay bridge and glued it to the bottom of the book.


The most difficult part of all was attaching the strings. I wanted the strings to replicate a bookmark as well as look like a realistic guitar. I purchased a full set of real guitar strings and cut them to size. I then wound them around the keys and had to glue them down because Guitar Hero guitars to not have holes for REAL strings. I then glued them to the Paperclay bridge and glue small, pained Paperclay bridge buttons on top to make it look realistic. I also added a guitar strap button to the bottom of the book where I may eventually add a piece of strap in the future.

This project took me about a week and a half to complete, but it was a labor of love.  It is absolutely beautiful and the pictures here do not do it justice.   I can not express how meaning full this book is to me or how much I adore the way it turned out. I am proud of it and I think my Dad would be proud of me as well.