9 Creative Ways to Preserve Handwriting

My dad had the most perfect penmanship.  He attributed it to his Catholic school education, the nuns beat it into me, he would say.  Whether he was writing with his left or right hand, his handwriting was better than most people’s.  As the story went, he broke his right arm three times in a year and got no slack from the nuns.  They smacked his left hand with a ruler until his handwriting looked just as nice with his left as it had with his right.

After my dad died I found comfort in almost anything with his handwriting on it.  One might think this had to do with what he wrote, and of course, sometimes it did.  But more often it was just that he wrote it.  A grocery list, a random phone message, whatever.  Throwing away anything with his handwriting on it? Unthinkable.  Well, unthinkable until it started to seem a little unrealistic to keep every scrap of paper around the house with his handwriting on it.  At some point, things slowly had to go.

When my grandmother died several years later I went through this all over again.  She was my dad’s mom and, not only was her handwriting sentimental in and of itself, but it also reminded me a lot of my dad’s.  As I cleaned out her house I knew I couldn’t keep everything, but there were some things I couldn’t part with – letters and recipes mostly.

Recently I have been thinking about ways to preserve handwriting of those we love and I have stumbled upon some really cool ideas.  I figure I might not be the only one with some handwriting-nostalgia, so today I am compiling some of these ideas in case you are looking for ways to hold on to your loved one’s handwriting without having a room in your house piled high with every scrap of paper they ever wrote on.  I have linked back to the source where possible, so click on the image to go to the site.

Handwriting Tattoos

I know more than a few grievers with one of these babies.  A good tattoo artist will be able to replicate anything you bring in that your loved one wrote.  It may be best to seek a tattoo artist who specializes in text to make sure you get something you are really happy with.   There are a zillion examples, but here are a few:

handwriting tattoochild handwriting tattoo 2


Framing Recipes

This is from yours truly at WYG.  My grandmother’s recipes had her beautiful handwriting and seemed a perfect decoration and memorial for my kitchen.  You can always just throw the recipe itself in a frame, but if you click the image below there is a tutorial on how to blow the recipe up and frame it at a larger size.

recipes 4
Create a Handwriting Scrapbook Page

Though this blog hasn’t been active for many years, The Good Grief Scrapbooking Blog provided 24 scrapbooking prompts to remember loved ones.  They had a great handwriting prompt and some of the submissions are really cool!

handwriting scrapbook

Handwriting Jewelry

If a tattoo seems a little too permanent, you can still wear your loved one’s handwriting in a more temporary way.  There are TONS of jewelry makers who will take something your loved one wrote and turn it into a beautiful necklace, bracelet, keychain, etc.  Etsy is a great place to start.  A search for handwriting jewelry there brings up nearly 4,000 options, so I am guessing you’ll find something you like!

handwriting bracelethandwriting necklacedaddy handwriting 3
Overlay Handwriting on a Photo

If you have a card, letter, or something else that is meaningful that your loved one wrote, you can use photoshop to impose the handwriting onto an image that you may also find meaningful (or just a nice image that you want to use!).  If you have a little photoshop knowledge, this tutorial will help you get it done!  If you don’t, you can order custom handwriting-photo overlays from this Etsy store.
writing on photohandwring photograph

Binding Letters into Books

This is such a neat idea.  I am a disaster when it comes to crafty things, and this looks like it takes some skill, but for those of you who are more ambitious and talented than me, it could be a VERY cool memorial.
binding letters 1binding letters 2

Framing Just About Anything with Handwriting

I love this look and it could be just about anything – grocery lists, postcards, letters, recipes, or anything else.  This I saw on Pinterest (shocking, I know) and the link took me here, but I couldn’t actually find the image there.  If anyone knows the original source please comment to let me know!

preserving old letters

Obviously, this is another Pinterest find.  I thought it was another cute option for hanging just about anything with handwriting on it.  Plus you could mix in some photos, etc.

preserving old letters 2preserving old letters 3


Recipes on Tea Towels?  Yup!

I love this idea!  Erin of the Sometimes Homemade blog transferred her grandmother’s recipes onto tea towels.  I guarantee this would be a train wreck if I tried it, but I feel certain some of you are talented enough to make this work.  And if you do you better send us a photo!

Recipes on a Cutting Board?  Yes again!

Will the creativity never cease?  I am OBSESSED with this idea.  Obsessed.  I saw this one first on the Nutfield Geneology blog, but I have links to some Etsy sellers too.  There are more if you search Etsy with a range of prices.

handwriting on cutting boardhandwriting cutting boardhandwriting cutting board 2I’m sure there are many options to preserve handwriting that I have missed.  Leave a comment to let us know, then subscribe to get our new posts right to your inbox!

June 18, 2018

16 responses on "9 Creative Ways to Preserve Handwriting"

  1. The framed postcards are actually a poster of vintage postcards by Cavellini & co. They make large wrapping paper style posters.

  2. My daughter has her grandmothers signature ( my mom) tattooed on her wrist. They were very close and her grief was overwhelming to the point of anorexia and cutting. I love that she now has a loved one so near her to remind her of her healing. It has helped tremendously.

  3. I sat with my sister for 3 days on life support and knowing she was going to pass, I wanted something of hers that would never go away. As a cosmetologist, I know that hair does not deteriorate. Also, as her sister, when we were little she would ask me to rub her hair for her to sleep. I found myself doing that for 3 days. I cut a lock of her beautiful curls and now have it in a locket I wear so she is always with me.

  4. My husbands parents have now both passed away. We discovered 2 bundles of love letters. We don’t want to read them as they’re private, but would like to preserve them in their bundles as they are. Is it possible to paint or spray them with some sort of varnish or lacquer suitable for paper, so that they won’t deteriorate

    • While they may be private to you, but in 100 years time or more your descendants or relatives may want to read those letters. As a genealogist, please, please, PLEASE don’t do that.

  5. Hi ladies, as always, thanks so much for your ideas, thoughts, and overall awesomeness. You two really rock (sorry, I just thought you might need to hear that and since I haven’t said it recently…)

    Anyway, heads up that a couple of the links above don’t seem to be going to the proper places any more (The Good Grief Scrapbooking Blog goes to a page with coins in a language that uses symbols, the Photoshop tutorial link for photo overlays goes to the blog but not the page with info mentioned, and basically the same for the tea towels). I’ll look for the info with my buddy Google, so no big worries, I just wanted you two too know. From someone who says it nicely and thinks you two are awesome… ❤️

  6. I’ve been debating different ideas to preserve my husband’s signature closing line “love you bunches” with a drawing of a bunch of flowers. My kids gave it to me as a painting to hang on the well by Etsy seller TheJulietRose. I’ve also considered having the flowers stamped into a piece of clay for a pennant or broch. Lots of options on Etsy!

  7. I made a Shutterfly digital recipe/scrapbook. I Scanned handwritten recipes and photos of my grandma and dad who had passed away. I also scanned some of my mom’s handwritten recipes & other family favorites too. I included stories and memories with some of the really special family recipes. It honestly took me years to complete ( procrastinater here) but the end product was so worth it! I’m now in the process of making one with all the funny sayings my dad used to say. It is taking longer than I would like, but mostly because I keep remembering ‘one more thing’ that needs to go in there. The finished product should be something that makes my family smile for years to come.

  8. Very interesting blog, looking forward to more wonderful! http://www.outletnl.biz/

  9. Jane Marie GigliottiMay 16, 2016 at 10:48 amReply

    I love this! I recently lost both my parents just 9 weeks apart and now my brother, and sisters are cleaning out their house. I realize we can’t keep everything either but, I am thinking about making a memory box and/or album of photos of their special things. It is just so hard to loose someone you love. Thanks again!!

  10. As a bookbinder this kind of work is the delight of my profession. I love working on people family treasures and creating something meaningful and wonderful around the objects for them.

  11. I love the idea of
    over laying a loved one’s handwriting over a photo, I would really like to have one of the photos made for a friend, however, I am having trouble getting to the Etsy store that makes them. Can any one help me with this? Thanks!

  12. I lost my mom this sept 24 2015 will be 4 years and i still have hard times getting thru all of it

  13. My latest “Death Happens” blog post is a big fat glowing major review/promotion for WYG. You’re welcome. http://www.tadrn.blogspot.com

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