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NEW FEATURE! Artifcts QR code stickers can help you keep track of your ‘stuff’ and your memories! Learn more
Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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DECLUTTERING & ORGANIZING
Keepsake Boxes, Remembrance Boxes, Memento Boxes - Boxes Abound!

Boxes, binders, and bins, oh my! Maybe you know them as keepsake, remembrance, memento, or memorial boxes. Some boxes even mirror the purpose of a binder, with tabs by topic, checklists, and pouches for loose keys, thumb drives, and other small and useful or meaningful objects. 

No matter what, before you stick any ‘stuff’ in your box of choice and slap on the lid, Artifct it to remember what it is and why it mattered. Unlike boxes, Artifcts are:

      • Instantly and perpetually organized and searchable 
      • Fire and flood proof (some boxes might be, too, up to a point …); no go-box required! 
      • Able to combine text, video, audio, and photos for every item 
      • Easily shareable and accessible online to anyone you choose, anywhere, anytime 
      • Do not take up space or require dusting

And, obviously, the stuff inside your Artifcts collection will not run the risk of outlasting your memories like a box full of stuff will. The memories are captured and preserved. You are no longer the keeper of the memories or the single point of failure behind the mementos. Breathe a sigh of relief!

Keepsake Box Options Abound

For those of us who relish holding onto those curated items that mean the most, we’ve tried to distill here what we’ve learned about the variety of boxes available. A common search on Google is actually acid-free keepsake box, which tells you people care about keeping items for the long haul.

Many major retailers, like Crate and Barrel, The Container Store, Pottery Barn, Target, Hallmark, and Amazon, sell at least one or two. So, we know there’s demand, people are looking for them. We suspect from how they are marketed that a box makes for a simple and obvious gift for special occasions. You’ll see below that the options and qualities vary. There is something for most needs, styles, and price points! 

(Listed in alphabetical order.) 

    • Akin offers custom boxes that fit and showcase the curated items you have chosen to help tell your story - whether it’s memorabilia, journals, photographs, documents, records, or more. What further sets Akin apart is that it offers services bundled around the box for custom-designed books and genealogy research to help commemorate family stories and ancestral histories.

"Present and preserve your keepsakes as opposed to hiding them away. A curated memorabilia box not only holds your most treasured pieces, it should tell their origin story—beautifully and archivally—so they can be cherished and shared for years to come," explained Renee Innis, Akin Founder.

    • Archival Methods offers archival boxes as well as a whole product category for “object storage.” They have additional custom options for fitting objects more snuggly in the boxes, too. 
    • Etsy is a logical choice for creative and custom options you’ve never even knew existed, offering a wild variety of sizes, styles, and materials to match your purpose or occasion. 
    • Nokbox is more about functional preparedness, organizing all of the critical information about your life in a box. If you’re going to store and rely on hardcopy, however, we strongly encourage: (1) fire proof (2) never put passwords into a single physical, hardcopy location, and (3) use a digital equivalent for all your life documentation (e.g., Keylu, TrustworthyGoodTrust, etc ...). Also, digital options are more flexible, less vulnerable, easier to update, and accessible from anywhere. 
    • Petite Keep offers more traditional aesthetics for its boxes, sort of a Pottery Barn or Draper James feel, with customization for initials, patterns, etc. 
    • Savor, in contrast to Petite Keep, offers a cleaner, more basic style like you might find from archival-quality sources. Its collection has expanded to offer drawers for vertically oriented boxes, built-in envelopes, and more to cover whatever ‘stuff’ you might have in mind to combine.  

Need we say it again? Just as we tell you “Before you store it, Artifct it,” before you box it, Artifct it. And slip your Artifcts collection QR code inside for safe keeping of all those stories, videos, and more from your Artifcts collection. Your future self will thank you! And if you need a little help getting started, check out Artifct concierge options. ->

My Artifcts homepage with option to create personal collection QR code

 
 
 
Each Artifct has a QR code as does your Artifcts Collection. Access it from My Artifcts -> 

Before We Go, a Word to the Wise: Know What You’re Buying

Archival does not always mean archival. What? Yes; sad truth. Sometimes archival only means the paper is acid free. And if you are a proponent of recycled paper, you have another potential recipe for disaster once you shut objects inside and create a little microclimate for terrible things to brew.

If you are popping items into a box that you truly cherish, do the homework on your archival products, or speak to a professional. You can contact nationwide companies like Archival Methods—one of our Allies in 'Stuff'—and Gaylord Archival or seek out archivists in your local area for guidance, products, and services.

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Before You Thin Out That Stuffed Animal Collection, Consider What Scientists Have to Say

Why do we have and keep so many stuffed animals to start with? It turns out, this is exactly the right question to be asking as we mark the start of May - Mental Health Month.
 
In a recent decluttering spree with my daughter, I found myself unexpectedly sentimental over so many she was ready to part with because I not only remembered when and from whom she got each, but I could picture her toting them around with her, cuddling them on car trips and during naps, and setting them up to play school.  
 
My conversations with my daughter about these stuffed toys all went something like this:

Me: You don’t want kitty? 
My kid: No, she’s really big. 
Me: But you and your cousin each got one together when we went to Disney. You insisted they watch the fireworks with you. 
My kid: I don’t remember. 
Me: O-kay. [Into the donation bag it goes.]

Imagine my surprise when trying to pick some of the stuffed animals to rehome and donate that I learned about a series of studies, first published back in 2014 in the journal Psychological Science by researchers at VU University Amsterdam that touched on my stuffed animal dilemma. “These toys are more than toys,” I consoled myself.

What Research Tells Us About Stuffed Toys

The research team at VU University Amsterdam investigated how interpersonal touch, including holding a teddy bear, influenced self-esteem in those who are more prone to depression and anxiety. And these are certainly anxious times in the world for us all with global pandemics, extreme weather, and a sea change in the US education system to name a few culprits.

Care Bear Cousins Plush Purple Stuffed Animal - COZY HEART PENGUIN 14"

 
 
 
 
 
Some stuffed animals even have “care” built into the name,  
like the Care Bears, popular in the 1980s.
You’ll probably not be surprised to learn that the study confirmed what many of us sense intuitively: touch can calm our fears and anxieties. The study also suggested touch is a means of increasing social connectedness and found that these effects are strongest among those of us who have strong intrinsic motivation.  
 
I mean, what’s the alternative when you’re on your own? Snuggling up to a digital device? Or, as in the researchers’ study, a cardboard box? We didn’t think so.  
 
We’re sharing this in hopes you go easy on yourself and your kids when you’re feeling overwhelmed by so much stuff, including stuffed animals. Stuffed toys can play an important role in how we relate to the world and cope with whatever it throws at us.
 
collection of stuffed bunnies
Some bunnies in this little girl’s collection made the cut, others did not. First, she Artifcted them.

Bonus! Want to learn more about the science of stuffed toys?

If you want to dig into some of the science yourself, check out some of the resources we also explored:


_________________ 
 
Kid ‘stuff’ on your mind? You may also enjoy these related stories from ARTIcles by Artifcts: 
 
Pint-Sized Perspective on Decluttering and Moving
15 Decluttering Targets for Artifcters
Who Wants This Rocking Chair?
 
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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Going Green. With Artifcts.

Who says it's not easy being green? 

In honor of Earth Day 2023 we created a special downloadable for all those items from around your home that through decluttering, moving, or otherwise "clearing on out," you want to move on without adding to the landfills. For our first edition, we’ve gone 100% eclectic, like the Artifcts you all create every day. Before the 'stuff' goes, Artifct that! 

 
 
Click the image to download your copy. All ideas are linked so you can learn more!

And if you want to upcycle, and still aren't sure where to start, check out companies like UpycleThat for inspiration on repurposing and options to buy and sell items. You can also call or visit local charities and similar to learn about their ongoing needs. Local charities abound, but here are some examples to get you started that range from nationally represented to always local:

      • Dress for Success (Clothing)
      • Habitat for Humanity (Tools)
      • Goodwill (Donates millions of crutches, wheelchairs and more every year to veterans' groups. We realize you might only Artifct these as a good riddance moment, but those matter, too!)
      • Disaster relief organizations, such as the Red Cross and fire stations (Clothing, blankets ...)
      • Universities (Your graduate's gown)
      • Hospitals (Needs vary widely, but some accept games and stuffed animals.)

We also strongly encourage reaching out to professional organizers and estate sellers who tend to be incredibly knowledgeable about uniquely local resources. The data doesn't lie - so many of our items once purchased with good intentions are hitting the landfills. We can do better!

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Upcycling Stuff After You Declutter: Create Personalized Art

Stepping into a football stadium you expect energy.

Setting down your bag of materials in quilting circle, calm and friendship.

Standing inside Magpie in Your Eye’s workshop – joy.

If you have yet to discover the joy of Magpie in Your Eye, by Maggie Stephens—one of Artifcts' Allies in 'Stuff'—you’re in for a treat.

Maggie could not help but wonder why we are all throwing away the small treasures we accumulate and collect in our lives. We’re talking about the small stuff – the less than 5-inch-tall knickknacks, tchotchkes, thingamabobs, and mementos on our shelves, in our bins, and maybe even our junk drawers.

UPCYCLED, JOYFUL ARTISTIC CREATIONS 

Maggie makes wreaths out of treasures people part with at estate sales, thrift shops, and charity stores. Rarely does she shop the likes of eBay; too expensive when you need more than 100 pieces for a single wreath. Leave those "pricey" thingamabobs for special treats or to meet a critical need.  

Maggie’s selectivity goes beyond just cost and size. “If you take a bunch of ugly things and put them together, you have something interesting.” Something with a character of its own. So there’s an essence of the object itself to consider, too. 

If you take a bunch of ugly things and put them together, you have something interesting.

That is what drew us at Artifcts to Maggie. Not only was she upcycling before it was cool, but can you imagine a better housewarming gift for someone who has moved away from home (think adult children) or recently downsized, and so many bits and bops simply get left behind? Make them into a wreath and you can continue to enjoy them for years to come! 

That’s exactly what one US expat living in Switzerland did! She saw Maggie’s holiday display at ByGeorge in Austin, Texas, and brought Maggie an interesting challenge.  

Could she transform a box of toys the women’s children had outgrown into a wreath? Why yes, yes, she could, and the result was heartwarming.

 
 
Read more about this toy wreath here.

Sometimes Maggie’s wreaths feature a color, other times a theme—bananas, jungle animals, Mexican crafts—and of course holidays.

Wreath with small red objects   Wreath with random orange objects   Yellow wreath objects Artifcts

It can take her over a year to collect enough pieces for a wreath since the pieces are all under $5, under 5”, and never purchased new. Maggie can get unexpected boosts when she buys a bag full of itty-bitty objects because there were two she really wanted, and then later several others in the bag round out a collection she didn’t even realize she had growing.

Case in point, a client last summer requested a fall wreath. Maggie wasn’t confident she had autumn themed items never mind enough of them. But once she started breaking down the essence of the season, out from the bins leapt mini pies, canned soup, dried vegetables, and more to create a distinctively autumnal wreath. 

THE WREATH CRAFT: STEP-BY-STEP

The wreaths start out with a 14” foam ring and are about 24” when completed. 

Wrap the foam ring in tinsel.  

Attach the hanger (before it’s too late)!

Then build layer by layer, starting by placing the largest of the items as the anchors around the wreath.  

Drying time between layers prolongs the building process a bit. Maggie never ever recommends accelerating it by using hot glue, because hot glue shrinks over time and then the pieces will fall off. “Sad!” Instead, she uses E600. The type of glue that will certainly outlast us all.

Want to try it for yourself? Here’s a helpful how-to video to create similar wreaths, but remember Maggie’s hot glue warning!

WHEN “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME” APPLIES 

We should warn that some of Maggie’s pieces require more than wild creativity and crafting skills. Sometimes you need to phone a friend with metal working skills! Surely we all have one … or not, ha. Maggie’s friend Anne Woods creates the necessary metal support arms and frames for larger custom pieces, like the rainbow piece Maggie displayed at By George last winter. 

Rainbow wreath for ByGeorge

 
 
A small segment of the ByGeorge wreath in the workshop.

We wanted to know what in this process was most challenging. Surprisingly, it was about the pieces themselves. Maggie laughed and said it’s a bit like getting a tattoo. Once she commits a piece to a wreath, that’s it, it’s gone. She might never find another like it.  

The hope is the piece, the collection reprised from dustbins and forgotten corners, will bring joy. “People always connect with one object or another in a wreath. It must be like Artifcts in that way. Stuff unites us.”  

People always connect with one object or another in a wreath. It must be like Artifcts in that way. Stuff unites us.

______________

Have tiny stuff that might make a great wreath? Contact Maggie at maggie@maggiestephens.com. She’ll be delighted to work with you.

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Introducing Artifcts' Allies in 'Stuff'

We want to help each person to transform stuff from a potential burden today and on future generations to the source of immediate connection, history, legacy, and financial security. We cannot do it alone. 

The world of ‘stuff’ is broad and sometimes overwhelming! Artifcts helps you to connect the stories and stuff, enjoy walks together down memory lane, support your wills and insurance coverage, and think through and document what to keep based on those hard tradeoffs between the emotional and financial value (and space!).  

Others can help you preserve, sell, move it all, and more!

Today We're Unveiling Artifcts' Allies in 'Stuff'

Our allies are resources to help expand your awareness of the possible for you and all your ‘stuff.’ The organizations represented cut across multiple categories:

      • Digitization & Preservation
      • Organizing, Decluttering, & Moving
      • Valuations & Sales
      • Family History & Documentation
      • Preparedness & End-of-Life
      • Artistic Renditions

We have met with every company directly, reviewed their products, and are confident they can help or, at the very minimum, inspire. We have focused on those with broad national, and many international, footprints and services. Yet we know sometimes going local is what's needed, required, or desired. Learn about the possible in the world of stuff here at Artifcts! Head over to Allies in 'Stuff,' click to read about each company, and download the Allies map to have on hand as a reference.

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Sorry, Not Sorry: I Love My Stuff

Stuff is cozy. It's personal. It’s valuable. It represents piece of your family story. It's what we sometimes call "Life Links,” the context for the lives we're living - if only our objects could talk! 

No judgement here if you, too, like ‘stuff.’

If you have attachments to stuff because of the memories, the dreams of a future when it becomes relevant, or whatever other just cause for keeping it, and it does not impede your daily life, good for you. We are here to say we're on your side. Ignore everyone else and real or perceived judgements about collecting and enjoying stuff.

If you're on the fence, stuff is stometimes a problem, consider some of our practical guidelines from our co-founder Ellen's household. And share tips of your own with us in social media or Editor@Artifcts.com.

_______________ 

As I told you in Lessons From Artifcting With My Mother, I'm neither hoarder nor minimalist. I don't even usually think I'm very sentimental (we talked about that, too, here). But I think knowing someone, who they are and not just what they've done, is made possible through the stories behind objects. It's less awkward, honestly. I don't have to be a fabled storyteller or enjoy the spotlight. It enables me to live my story and pass it on, digitally and/or physically! 

Practical Guidelines Help Manage 'Stuff' From Overflowing

So, what's it really like here in the Goodwin household? 

We have golden rules for stuff.  

Some rules bring sanity in the rush of the school/work week. For example, no clothes on the bathroom counter or shoe piles by the door. And shred unsolicited offers with evil codes and other sensitive documents immediately.  

Other rules are really practical guides to avoid penalties and lost meaning. Just as I schedule e-bills for payment as soon as I receive them, I Artifct moments after an item comes into the house (or is on its way out) or as I relax at the end of an eventful day. I take a few key photos I want to use to capture and remember the real story behind each item and add in the funny, factual, and other types of humanizing details. 

No harm in hitting “pause” is another rule, especially when more stuff is concerned. If I still remember I wanted or "needed" to buy some item weeks later (or maybe a month later for a big-ticket item), then I do. I'm not a minimalist, but I do think about bringing more stuff into our home and try to do the same with my family. Here’s a real example from household: “Really? We "need" another Harry Potter Lego set? What about this one that's unfinished and this one that's not even started? Our house is small people; let's talk about this!” 

Objects Turned Artifcts Become "Life Links"

I have embraced 'stuff' in a public way as the co-founder of Artifcts because valuing the meaning and history behind the objects I have chosen to keep is natural to me. My husband? Not so much. That's fine. I find energy and humanity in connecting through the stories only objects can tell, through me. So, to end this little sharing piece, here are a few of my “Life Links” through objects I have Artifcted. You can also browse public Artifcts and download our inspiration lists for more inspiration! 

Not all Artifcts I mention are public on Artifcts, but I've tried to give you the context so you can feel more comfortable embracing your own Life Links, and give people fair warning to treat them well whether they stay in the family or find new purpose elsewhere someday. 

  • Heart necklace from my husband and daughter. This gift had very little to do with Mother's Day and much more to do with their symbolic support of this new fandangled thing called Artifcts. View the Artifct >
  • Throw quilt from Grandma. I do not know my grandmother well, but I always thought it was telling that she took the time to hand stitch a quilt for each of my siblings and me. View the Artifct > 
  • Ping pong ball. It’s from the early days dating my now husband and always makes me smile.
  • Bird dish. A dish anyone can buy from Anthropologie but that reminds me how lucky I am in life to have my person (my husband) at my side.
  • Pywocket, the wooden cat. I know the origins and still find it remarkable to imagine a young woman in the 1960s (aka my mother) doing wood carving. Surely this says more about me and my assumptions than her skills. View the Artifct >   

What stuff, sentimental and/or valuable life links, do you love in your home? 

If you are interested in Artifcts potentially featuring your Artifct in our curator’s choice series, click the share button on your Artifct and send it to @ArtiEditor.

Happy Artifcting! 

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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