Thursday, February 25, 2016

Breathing New Life

I have some very old and large photographs of family members looooong gone. When my great aunt was moved from her family's home in Hamilton years ago, I one day helped my mother to clear out some of the things. I don't think I was much help as I was more interested in the fascinating things my great aunt had in the house. This was the original farmhouse of my family that my great-grandfather first owned. It sat on ten acres of land originally (a market farm), but I only knew it as a small town plot surrounded by other newer homes. It was a treasure trove of antiques.

I was sent up to a bedroom to sort things out. In a closet I came across an old photograph of my grandfather. There is no date on the photo, but he was in the WWI and sent overseas. I have some postcards that he sent to his sisters at that time. My mother groaned when I showed her the photo, and said "Ugh ... that photo!". I never thought to ask her what she meant, but perhaps a big deal was made of my grandfather going off to war and she had heard it all her life? Who knows. She didn't have the best relationship with her father apparently, but she didn't say a whole lot about it. He died before I came along.

The framed photo had slept inside the bedroom for many, many years and was quite filthy. Everything in that house was filthy as my great aunt only dealt with daily necessities by then. I thought it was kind of sad that this old photo was neglected. I brought it home with me and what did I do? I put it away in my own closet for another 30 years or so :( 

With all the decluttering I am doing, I am now forced to deal with this photo. Today I pulled it out once again and decided to clean it up (again) and take the photo out to wash the glass. The frame is a well-made piece of wood with plaster pieces around the edges and painted a hideous gold. I want to freshen it up and breathe some new life into it. Out came my little tool kit that I keep in my kitchen ... every girl should have one ... in fact, the tiny hammer also came from my great aunt's house and I use it all the time for hanging pictures, etc.

I pulled out the nails holding in the photo and backing. The glass is convex and I was surprised to find that so was the photo, although you can't tell from this photo.

I washed the frame gently with hot soapy water and soft scrubby brush and dried it off with a towel. It's now resting on my mitten drier over the register to get completely dry. 

There was one little piece on the frame that had been repaired with plaster (below), and unfortunately the bath weakened it and it crumbled away. Not too drastic, but I'll see if my husband has some wood filler to maybe build it up again.

I have this tiny missing piece (below) in my jewelry box and will glue it in place once the frame is dry.

I think I'll paint the frame all white so that the details of the plaster bits don't get lost. I really don't like the gold and I think the white will give it a fresh look. I don't know where to hang it as yet. I'm not sure if my husband will even agree to hanging it up. Where do you hang your family photos? We only have a few small framed family photos around.

I also have this other photograph of, I believe, my great-grandfather. This photo is very fragile and little bits flake off from the edges every time I handle it. I think it too deserves to be framed again (it didn't have a frame when I found it). I think he must have had those "crystal blue" eyes from the look in the photograph.

The last thing to show you is this old survey ... again quite old and brittle ...

It's the survey of my family's old farmstead in West Hamilton. 
I want to put this in a frame too ... one day!

I'm sorry I don't have the finished photos to show you today, but I'll definitely post about them when I get the frames all painted and back together.

Thanks for stopping by today!


Linking up today with Jemma of At Home With Jemma and Thoughts of Home on Thursday. Maybe you'd like to pop over there and see what all these creative folks have to share today. Thank you so much for hosting this link party Jemma!


  1. Nice that you have the photos, i hope you get them done i cant wait to see them.. Have a great day with love Janice

  2. How wonderful to have these old photos. I have some from my husband's side of the family and have been really glad about that. I had some framed in a triptych which hangs in my living room. The ones I framed were actually copies I had made, to protect the originals, but they look just like the originals. I think the frame you're working on is going to look really beautiful when it's all done.

  3. Ancaster! I lived there from the age of 3-11 on the corner of St. Margaret's Rd and I went to school at C.H Bray. What lovely treasures you've saved - no matter that it took you 30 years to get to them ;-)

  4. I have one of those big old photos, but wasn't lucky enough to get the frame too. It's a picture of my great-aunt's aunt. The family didn't really approve of her because she wasn't 'worthy' of marrying the only boy. But my great aunt like her. Her name was Jane, but she was called Jenny.

  5. Wendy,
    What wonderful family history you have shared with us today and these old photos are truly priceless and wonderful. I chuckled when you mentioned that you put the photograph away for many years, I have done the same thing!
    This frame is gorgeous and I love how you are breathing new life into it.
    Great project to share with us At Thoughts Of Home On Thursday! Thank you so much for being such a great and sweet friend!

  6. I love your old photos...and frames. They are a joy! Thanks for the visit!

  7. Oh, what wonderful treasures, Wendy! To have the photo of your great grandfather is really special. So nice to see! xx K

  8. What wonderful family treasures!! These are definitely things to keep even if you don't display them all. The frame is very big isn't it, and very lovely. I am sure that you will make it look really great! xx

  9. Lovely to have all those old photos thought , I have none of my grandfathers as they all passed long before I was born and they were all living in England witch most of my relatives had . I am looking forward to seeing how the frames turned out . Thanks for sharing , have a good day !

  10. I think it's so wonderful you hold on to these treasures Wendy! I'm fascinated by old photos - even if it's not my own relatives. ;)

    My Mom and members of her extended family gave me a lot of wonderful old photos and memorabilia from through the years. My Mom and I have done a lot of sorting through it and organizing it all by time frame. I'm going to make a big family scrapbook to be shared by all of the relatives. I'm hoping I can get family members to contribute some written or typed up memories or stories to include in it too. This stuff is just so "up my alley" and I find family photographs, scrapbooks, and histories to be as golden as real treasure. I loved your photos and your Grandpa was a handsome guy! :) I think painting that frame white will look really nice too.
    Thanks for sharing and blessings to you! xoxo

  11. It's wonderful to have photos of "antique" family members. We have some from both my family and my husband's family but, shame on me, I have yet to get them into frames! Maybe I'll go tackle that now...

  12. Wonderful to have family photos, I have few from my Mom's family, but managed to get a few more from a 2nd cousin I met up with on
    Oh the things I wish I'd asked my Mom before she died.

  13. What great treasures. They are definitely something you want to hang on to.

  14. Isn't it interesting that with your decluttering you re-found some old family photos tucked away. Have you thought about having the photo of your great grandfather redone at one of the specialty photo places. I think they use PhotoShop to recreate it in good condition and it's not too costly.

  15. I always love reading your posts and I am always fascinated by the little histories. Not only you found the long lost photos, how amazing it is to find the survey of the family farmstead. I like your idea of painting the frame white or even off-white. Show us when you are done restoring it.


  16. What wonderful photos of your ancestors. They definitely deserve a place on the wall. I'm also admiring your little tool kit. Beats having to rummage in the garage for a hammer!

  17. Old photographs are fascinating. I've been scanning some and adding them to my family tree. Through I've been able to find lots of old photographs of distant relatives.

  18. Oh I just love those old family photos. It is so nice that you are fixing up the frame.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  19. You've done a great job cleaning the photo's frame and painting it white is a good idea. We also only have a few framed family photos in our house but if I have something like your grandfather's old photograph, I'll put it up on the wall. I think it's very special.

  20. How wonderful to have this connection to your history, Wendy. Lovely photos.

  21. That frame will look great all freshened up....
    Good luck!
    Linda :o)

  22. What a nice photo of your grandfather a lovely history too! I really like the frame :)
    Have a beautiful weekend, take care...
    Love from Titti

  23. Very interesting old photos and frame Wendy. I think the frame will look nice painted white or cloud white. I have old photos too and they are in drawers and boxes. Some people I don't have a clue as to who they are which is so sad. The photos tell a story of life in days long gone. Most end up at flea markets or in the garbage as no one wants them. Pam


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