Family trees: When genealogists branch out

Family trees: When genealogists branch out


I’m always amazed by the creativity you find demonstrated on the internet. It takes some digging, and you have to kiss a lot of frogs, but there are definitely treasures to be found.

I first became motivated to launch Geneartistry when I was creating a new filing system for my genealogy research and realized that my 16 years of hard work was hidden in file folders and binders. I wanted a beautiful display to showcase my research so I scoured the net for an art quality tree chart that I could frame and hang on my wall. There are numerous charts out there in different forms – fan charts, pedigree charts, etc. but I wanted a real piece of art, heirloom quality on beautiful paper with a more modern design than I found on the market. In fact, it’s become my mission to create such a product, but that’s a post for another day.

While scouring the internet for charts, I started to notice how many beautiful and creative ways people were displaying their family history research. Crafty people all over the world have posted photographs and art projects online that are great inspiration for displaying your research. The following examples are artistic family trees with photographs of each generation.

This eye-catching shadow box was created by Candace and Nichole of Crafty Sisters. Their website gives step-by-step instructions for how to create the shadow box. The tree in this project has a very realistic quality and was made with a lot of care – the faux-bois finish is stunning.

In the demonstration they show a variation on the types of leaves that are possible, both examples look great. Best of all, the design leaves a lot of room for creativity in the way that photos are used. They can be in black and white, sepia, color or even sketches.

For an easy way to achieve a faux-bois effect for your tree, try using a wood-grained rubber mat, a common tool of ceramic artists. This affordable mat by Chinese Clay Art can also be used to add wood grain for baked goods (perhaps tree shaped cookies for your next family reunion), or with a little ink, it becomes an oversized rubber stamp.

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Apartment Therapy featured a gorgeous wall display created by painting a tree and then using framed photos that have the illusion of hanging from its branches.The greater the variety in the matting and frames of the photos, the more attractive this tree will look.
To achieve a similar look in your home, try using a tree decal and applying it to your wall.
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The folks at Dali Decals have over 70 tree decals to choose from. This tree is especially well suited to this kind of project and would look great in an entry or family room.
This same site offers trees ideal for nurseries so you can start training your next generation of  little genealogists early.
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I was really impressed with the craftsmanship of the Heirloom Family Tree in a Glass Dome featured on MarthaStewart.com. This small and simple display showcases tiny heirlooms such as jewelry, buttons or eye glasses that once belonged to an ancestor. This would be a wonderful way to display an antique locket collection, your grandmother’s charms or miniature photographs.
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If you don’t have tiny heirlooms, create your own by placing an ancestor’s photograph into a tiny photo frame or locket. Artist Monica Rich Kosann’s charms and lockets would make a special heirloom that lasts for generations. The little “branching out” labels inside of this dome would be beautiful in a photo album or on a mat of a small photograph.
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Seeing the craftsmanship in these pieces has really inspired me to work harder at finding a unique and special way to pass my research and photo collection on to the next generation. A home is a museum to house these little treasures and share them with loved ones. Most importantly, genealogy inspired art provides a tangible connection and place of honor to those dates and names you’ve spent so much time collecting.

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4 Responses to “Family trees: When genealogists branch out”

  1. Denise Olson says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I love them all but the glass dome has to be my favorite. I’ve been collecting lockets for a family history project but I just didn’t know how to display them. Now I do! Thank you for introducing us to so many talented artists.

  2. Alona Tester says:

    Simply stunning. No doubt each would take som time to do, but the results look truly worth it.

  3. Mary Nelson says:

    You have some beautiful ideas. Thanks for sharing.

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