Branching Out: New Takes on the Family Tree
Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2010
While Gram is certainly represented (as she should be, considering all she has done for everyone), she's not relegated to a mere fill-in-the-blank and date of birth. In these interpretations of the family tree, she might be shown in an evocative, grainy black-and-white photograph. Or in a graphic silhouette swinging her lucky 8 iron. Or even painted on the wall of a child's room -- as a wise old bird (indeed!).
Using the traditional tree as a starting point, these projects offer a number of new ways to celebrate and present your family, whether it's with clip art or elegant displays of heirlooms and keepsakes. Best of all, you won't grow old finishing these crafts. Some can be made in a day, especially if you enlist your children. Maybe someday, in the faraway future, your granddaughter will have one on display in her home and she will proudly proclaim, "This is my grandmother's family tree."
Birds of a Feather Family Tree
Help your kids visualize their extended family in a cute and colorful way, using our bird templates to depict the grandparents and successive generations.
Framed Silhouette Family Tree
A crisp, graphic take on the family tree, this display has a silhouette of each family member set in an inexpensive store-bought frame. Don't worry if you can't find suitable portraits of everyone -- showing people's bodies in motion, engaged in an activity (tennis, anyone?), or standing in a characteristic pose makes this even more fun.
Precious Diamonds Family Tree
Make an argyle design using printouts of family photographs and our diamond-shaped template. Since the copies are black-and-white, there is an elegant uniformity to the look. This loose design works well for blended families.
Giving Tree Family Tree
With its warm gray tone and beautiful details, this drawing by New York artist Melinda Beck has a sophisticated charm and a pleasing symmetry.
Flower Family Tree
Families grow like flower gardens -- with lots of time, care, and love. This wall hanging represents that basic biological truth with a variety of subtly colored clip-art blossoms. Don't hesitate to have some fun with the arrangement, moving the flowers around, to make this wall bouquet lovely to look at.
Heirloom Family Tree in a Glass Dome
A random assortment of family keepsakes, from a grandfather's spectacles to a baby's christening spoon, takes on a cohesive deliberate look that's almost Victorian when encased in a delicate glass dome. The little tree is a lightweight branch bought from a florist, and then spray-painted matte gold and held upright with epoxy.
Digging for Your Roots
Maybe you never got to know all of your grandparents. Or maybe you live clear across the country from your closest family member. No matter how distant or mysterious your ancestry may seem, you'll probably be surprised at what you can discover just by researching a few names online. It's easy and fun, and once you start, it becomes addictive. Here are some places to begin your search.
Yes, this website is good for something other than procrastinating. Use the application "We're Related by Family Link," which can help you start piecing together your family tree.
If your relatives immigrated to the United States, were issued Social Security numbers, or owned land here, the National Archives probably has a record of it, and this site helps family historians find the information they need.
A free service of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this site offers access to birth, death, marriage, and census records from around the world (and isn't limited to Mormon families). You can also take online classes about compiling your family record.
A user-friendly service ($12.95 per month for U.S. records, $24.95 for world), this is the largest family-history resource online. It also lets you collaborate with other subscribers.