Upcycle Final Report: Memory Box

My inspiration for this project was found by simply walking through Goodwill. My grandmother passed in November and she has been on my mind a lot lately. When I went into Goodwill, a lot of the things in there reminded me of her. She was an adorable British grandmother who always made sure that her house was decorated with tiny trinkets that she loved. This is what urged me to buy the ship in the bottle. It’s a tiny trinket that has a small Union Jack on it and it truly felt perfect to bring some English-ness into her memory box. She also often had fake flowers in vases just so that there was always color in the house.

My process to complete this project was to first paint the box a dark brown color. It was originally a faded wood that needed some love. Painting it dark made the rest of the box look less worn. Then I cut up a scarf to insert flowers through the fabric to make sure they stood upright. Then I glued flowers to the picture frame and glued the frame into the box. Then I placed more flowers around the frame and popped the ship in the bottle on top of the flowers.

The picture I used was taken by my cousin (a talented photographer) the summer before she passed. In it she is reading a book and she has an air of serenity around her. Looking at it gives me a sense of calm, knowing that she is happier now with my grandfather with her.

While working through this project, I felt like it really helped me also work through her passing. It made me transfer the last of my sadness into something that I could look at and remember her by, in every single aspect. I wanted the whole thing to be colorful and happy–something that was just like she was. 🙂

Aesthetically, I believe that my goal has been reached. I wanted something representative of her and I feel like I accomplished that. Functionally, I don’t believe the artifact itself serves a physical function, it’s more of an emotional function that I have explained a lot above.

If I were to expand on this idea in the future, I would create more. I would create a unique piece for my family members so that they could also have a memory of her with them always.

Presentation Link:  https://youtu.be/XlKWaxW0JH0

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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Davis Robertson
    February 16, 2020 8:59 pm

    Hi Isabella,
    This is a really nice idea for a project, and it’s nice that it also has sentimental value to you. Did you make a process map for the construction of this, or was it more of a spontaneous design?

  • This is a very on point project for upcycling. The purpose is clear and the materials directly serve that purpose. Although I’m wondering if there could be any way to anchor items in place on your piece, since it feels like it is all meant to be displayed.

  • Justin Engbrecht
    February 12, 2020 12:57 pm

    Hello Isabella! While at Goodwill, with all of the things that reminded you of your grandmother, was it difficult to decide which of them to get and incorporate within your project? Did the objects that you included within the final product “jump out” at you more than other objects you saw there?

  • Bella,

    I really liked your project’s origins and it’s sentimental value. It was heartwarming to hear about your grandmother and how she inspired your project.
    I like your use of items that your grandmother enjoyed and how all aspects of your project had a deeper meaning. I think that all of these items were very well tied together in the memory box format.
    As far as your presentation goes, I liked how you gave your backstory so that we understood the meaning behind the project. Additionally I liked how your graphics supported the oral aspect of your presentation. The one area I thought you could improve upon was eye contact with the audience. You referenced your slides often (which is good) but be aware of the time you spend looking at your slides verses the audience

  • Isabella –

    Sorry to hear about your Grandma, but it inspired a very memorable piece of aesthetic. All the colors work quite well together, very fall colors within the box, and the velvet bedding of the box compliments the texture of the wood well. Were there any materials that you couldn’t find at GoodWill that you wish you had in making the memory box? What other trinkets or pieces of memory of your Grandma do you think you’d add to your box? And lastly, did you do any brainstorming or sketching within your design process – in preparation to making the memory box that you did?


  • This is such a beautiful project, I’m glad you were able to create something that brings you joy from what can be a really difficult experience.
    Do you think you would be up for making these for your family members?

  • Where are you planning on displaying this piece? Great job with the wood stain it “feels” sentimental.


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