Memorable Organized Collections

We all know the joys of finding that special shell or sea glass during the wonderful days of summer. As our children grow they also enjoy the same excitement, but often in a more voluminous fashion. For years my children collected shells at the annual family beach trip. The occasional exemplary conch shell found its way on a table or bookcase. The rest, in an attempt to be organized, ended up in a Ziploc bag with each child’s name, date of collection, and beach name collecting dust in the garage. While cleaning the garage I pondered what to do with these shells, or often just shell fragments.

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As I came across some square glass containers, it dawned on me that these collections could become aesthetically pleasing arrangements in their own right.  I particularly liked that these were made in America and had gaskets.

Since then I have used them in various projects. I have placed them in an Under the Sea bathroom coupled with some more dramatic pieces.   It is fun to see the joy in the child’s eye when a former ‘treasure’ filled with memories of a wonderful trip resurfaces.    Version 2

These glass framed collections also work beautifully with other found objects. The round canisters below are simple, yet elegant.  In one project the child was an avid rock collector and would pick up rocks at every possible opportunity. It could be in the yard during the excavation for the footing of their house, trips to the playground, or even travels abroad.   The Mom admitted that sometimes she would be exasperated to find rocks hidden in pant’s pockets banging around the washing machine- if the exploits of the day did not get turned out of the pockets prior. Once the rocks were placed in a jar in full view of all, the struggle over the rock collecting seemed to magically melt away.


I have also found that when a homeowner wants the house to look lived in but still well maintained, these collections fit the bill. I often ask the children what they like to collect. Items run the gamut from hexbugs to littlest pet shop animals to hot wheels to legos to treats from the toy vending machine on special occasions. The containers can be grouped on shelves in the family room and look cozy and personal but still organized and even polished. They can also be placed on a bookshelf in the child’s room. They can also be used for easy and decorative access to items that are frequently used but decorative when not in use. With the marbles, for example, I found a book of marble games and put them on the bookcase next to the jar of marbles. The children found they played with them much more often than when they had be put in a bag in the basement. You could do the same with dominos or packs of cards and inspire the family to play one of these now ‘retro’ games.


It can also be a heartfelt surprise for the newly empty nested family. It is a wonderfully simple gesture to take a collection of some often loved pieces and place them in a single jar as a symbol of the newly departed child. It can be created by the Father as a gift to the child’s Mother to soften the blow of being saddened by her recent ‘loss’. It can be created by the Mother as a visual representation of the child who may be far away at college. It can be a gift from the child to the parent. It can even be a nice bonding project for child and parents in anticipation of the separation of college or a move away with adulthood. It then is not just a memory of the child, but also becomes a memory of the time generating the collection.

If there are multiple children in the family each child can have a jar with small, simple, favorite objects that were once loved, but have since been outgrown. The jars can then be grouped together. Similarly it can be used when families down size as a way to preserve some memorable items of the child in addition to just photos. What a treat it would be for the future grandchildren to see what their parents used to play with!

They are also a nice place to store new soaps, sponges, bath salts etc that you pick and plan to try.  They can also double for visible storage of often used soaps and cotton balls, placing them attractively at hand.


It seems that even the foodie havens have taken notice.





One comment on “Memorable Organized Collections

  1. Wil

    Good blog post.