Free Webinar: Learn How to Create a Tribute Blog

Join me and the Indian Prairie Public Library’s Genealogy Group for a free webinar to learn the ins and outs of creating a Tribute Blog. We’ll discuss when a Tribute Blog might be the best route to capturing and sharing a story. I’ll walk through the creation of the Artist Inspired By Nature Tribute Blog and share the steps to take to get started creating your own Tribute Blog.

Creating a Tribute Blog

Thursday, April 22, 2021

1:00PM – 3:00 PM CT

Register with the Indian Prairie Public Library’s monthly Genealogy Group Meeting: to receive your link to attend the program. This program will not be recorded.

Programs Now Available

Would you like to learn how to capture and save your life story or that of a family or community member? Uniquely YourStory now has four program offerings for your club, library, senior center, community organization or genealogy group.


The Time is Now! Getting Started on that Life Story Bookshares the many reasons and benefits of documenting your life, as well as 5 steps to take to get started right away. Can be combined with “The Surprising Benefits of Telling Your Life Story” for a longer workshop. 60-90 minutes

 Moving Past Names & Dates: Personal History for Genealogists explains the importance of adding a personal dimension to your genealogy and concrete steps on how to get started. 60 minutes

The Surprising Benefits of Telling Your Life Story* is a lively, interactive in-person workshop that demonstrates the value of capturing life stories at any age. In this workshop participant are encouraged to bring an item that holds special meaning to them to share about with the group. 60-90 minutes

Creating a Tribute Blog provides the benefits and basic instructions of creating an online story as a Tribute to a person, family, place, or collection. An example Tribute Blog is shared, as well as the steps to take to create one. 60 minutes

*All programs may be held in-person or online, except “The Surprising Benefits of Telling Your Life Story” which is an in-person only workshop.

For more information, contact: or visit

Animating Ancestral Photo Images

At the recent Roots Tech Conference for genealogists and personal historians, the company My Heritage launched their brand-new image enhancing technology, Deep Nostalgia, that makes faces “come to life” within photographs.

It’s simply amazing what can be done with this technology. Take a look at these examples I’ve created in less than 30 seconds with Deep Nostalgia.

I’ve shared some of these examples with friends and family and the responses have ranged widely from thrilled & amazed to completely creeped out to reminiscent of the Harry Potter movies.

Carrie Elizabeth Mitchell, c. 1870s

This photograph is of my great grandmother, Carrie Mitchell Clute. She lived from 1855 – 1930, and this photograph was taken while she was a young woman in the 1870.

Now, take a look at what can be done with Deep Nostalgia. The technology is in it’s first version, and a user has no control over movements and details at this point. This took just a few second to generate with the software. It can be done on both color and black & white images, as well as can identify multiple faces within a single image, though it creates separate animations for each person.

Carrie Elizabeth Mitchell, c. 1870s – animated

My first reaction to this was a mix of disbelief and surprise, but now that I have watched it many times, I really appreciate it. There is one moment in the clip where her eyes stare directly out at the viewer, which I find incredible compelling.

Another example I tried with Deep Nostalgia was of my great-great grandparents, Nicholas Clute lived from 1826-1901. He was a 6th generation American, with our immigrant Clute ancestor arriving in Schenectady, NY in the 1650s as a beaver trader. Nicholas and his wife, Eve Beebe Clute (1828-1913) were both born on local farms and moved into the city of Schenectady after getting married. Having been raised on a farm, Nicholas was fascinated with mechanical farm implements and devoted his life to inventing. He had 20 patents granted to him during his lifetime. Family story has it that he went to Chicago for an invention contest and won a $500 prize – and spent it all before he got back home, including on a gift of a piano for his daughter.

Here are Nicholas and Eve – photographs taken c.1870’s.

And here they are animated with Deep Nostalgia.

Eve Beebe Clute, c. 1870’s
Nicholas Clute, c. 1870’s

Would love to hear your thoughts on this new technology. Would you want to use it? Why or why not?

Master Woodcarver

Inez found her element with woodcarving, inspired by nature. In the 1970’s & 1980’s, she honed her craft and focused primarily on carving birds and ducks. This final post in her Tribute Blog shares some of Inez’s wonderful carvings and her great joy in, at last, owning her own business and competing in US national woodcarving shows.

Inez always has an entrepreneurial spirit – starting back in NY city with her greeting card business. After having success with her mail-order woodcarving pattern business, she wanted more. In 1976, she considered opening a consignment shop in the planned new “1776 Shopping Mall” in Menands NY, Luckily, she got cold feet with that endeavor, as that mall faltered.

Then, an opportunity to open her own shop in a location within walking distance to her home became available in 1979. At last, Inez opened her very own shop, Imagination Plus, located on Rte. 7 in Latham, NY. It was a woodcarving, art and consignment store. Inez moved all of her carving equipment and tools into the back workroom, and was able to carve throughout her days between tending to customers or chatting with local artisans.

At this time Inez also started a woodcarving club in the Town of Colonie, and taught carving classes in her shop. Many local artists offered their work for sale in her store. For the six years she ran her business, Imagination Plus was a hang out for the local carvers and other artists. Often, artists would gather, chat and carve the day away together. Inez always had a smile and the coffee pot on.

Inez at her shop, Imagination Plus c. 1984

In addition to operating her shop, Inez was carving continuously and showing her bird and duck carvings at national carving competitions.

In 1985, Inez’s husband, Ed Sewell, passed away. Inez chose to close her shop by the end of 1986. At home, Inez focused her time and energy on her carving and showing & competing in US national wood carving competitions. Inez enjoyed and was carving up until she passed away in June of 1989.

Many thanks to my sister, Karen Sewell, for her time and talent in photographing many of the art pieces seen in Inez’s Tribute Blog!

And, Thank You for reading Inez’s Tribute Blog. It has been an honor to share her amazing talent and life with all of you.

Dabbling with Wood

In the 1970’s, Inez began working with wood and discovered that she loved forming shapes from it. Early in this endeavor, she began creating simple toys and animals. Inez also enjoyed creating relief carvings and then began focusing on chip carving. Her home art studio became filled with a myriad of woodcarving tools, lathes, sawdust and wood chips!

Inez began carving animals and birds and discovered this was her calling. Inez was in her element! She loved forming something from a beautiful piece of wood.

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As Inez read through the carving magazines, she came to realize that many people who wanted to carve needed patterns to carve the animals or shapes. As we know, Inez could draw anything … so she started advertising in the back of the magazines that she could draw and create patterns for any shape someone wanted to carve, and thus her carving pattern mail-order business was born! She did this for quite a few years, and reignited her desire to have her own business.

Here are a few samples of her carving patterns:

Over the next few years Inez experimented with chip carving, relief carving and started to hone her skills at carving birds and ducks.

Inez began going to art and woodcarving events and learning more and more about the art and science of woodcarving. Here she’s seen with a display of her early carvings at a wood carving event.

Up Next: We’ll see where Inez’s new passion, lifelong creativity, love of nature, entrepreneurial spirit and a few more years of wood carving experience took her.


Inez & Ed Sewell

Inez drew all her life. Here is a selection of drawings from throughout her lifetime.

People … Some you might recognize


Things …

Did you recognize any of the people, places or things? Let us know in the comments below.

Next Up: We’ll be moving into Inez’s final and best area of her art career. With her children grown, the 1980’s brought a whole new direction for her art.

Abstract Art

Let’s first take a look at Inez’s geometric abstraction paintings from the 1960’s. As you’ve seen, throughout Inez’s life she experimented with several different media and artistic styles. In the mid 1960’s she explored geometric abstract painting of ships, with the subject matter influenced most likely from her East Coast travels.

This first one is titled, “Four Boats at Anchor”. The first is a sketch with colored pencil; the second is her final painting.

And here is the development of “Schooner at Anchor”. Sketch; Colored Pencils. We do not have the final painting in this sequence.

Her final painting in the geometric abstract series is below.

My Favorite

Inez also created this series of abstract paintings. These are very different from her geometric abstractions, but interesting nonetheless!

Next up: we will take a look at her drawings of the 1960’s & 1970’s.

Influences – The Natural World

Today, in Celebration of what would have been Inez’s 96th birthday, let’s take a further look at some of her early influences.

As a young girl Inez was often in nature. Her aunt Ethel was a Girl Scout and her family went on nature hikes and camped. Despite growing up in the depression, or perhaps due to it, her family spent a great deal of time outdoors in all seasons.

Having her aunt Ethel’s Girl Scout influence and her aunt Carrie’s painting influence, there’s no surprise that nature and art infused Inez’s life.

Ethel at Girl Scout Camp, Moreau Lake, NY – c. 1918

Here is a compilation of home movie clips from 1937-1939 of Inez, her brother Frank, and their parents enjoying the great outdoors (3:11).

1937-1939 – Clip compilation of Inez and family: Hiking Whiteface Mountain; Climbing and Camping (in dresses!), Snowball fight and Skiing without poles (!) and a Toboggan Ride

FAST FORWARD to Inez’s married years. While raising her children and working in advertising design, Inez continued to draw and paint for pleasure. During these years she also spent a great deal of time in nature and continued learning about the natural world.

Inez enjoyed gardening with flowers as well as fruit, vegetables and herbs. She grew rhubarb, strawberries, gooseberries and currants. Every year there were peas, tomatoes, cucumbers and many other vegetables.

Ed and Inez’s family explored the natural world together, with many camping trips throughout the Northeast region, up and down the East Coast, and even a summer trip across the USA to visit many of the National Parks. They canoed in summers and cross country skied in winters. Inez was a birdwatcher and learned a great deal about the birds of North America.

As a Girl Scout leader for nearly a decade, she shared her knowledge of birds, animals and plants with the girls on nature hikes and on annual camping trips.

Ed and Inez were supportive of the environmental movement in 1960’s and 70’s. They held paper drives and taught their children to respect nature. They primarily heated their suburban home with a wood stove and fireplace, and grew and preserved a significant crop of fruits and vegetables. Inez busily canned and dehydrated her crops throughout the summer months for use during the winter.

Much of Inez’s artwork during this period reflects her joy and appreciation of nature. Here are a few of her drawings and paintings from the 1960’s & 70’s.

Up next: Inez explores geometric abstraction art.

Marriage and New Career Direction

In upstate NY Inez taught art in the Schoharie County school district, where she was also offering adult education classes for the community. By the mid 1950’s, Inez was working as a junior high school Art Teacher in the Troy, NY school district. It was there she met her partner for life, John Edward (Ed) Sewell — the Music Teacher!

In the summer of 1957 they married, and Inez became pregnant with her first daughter soon after. Therefore, she had to quit her teaching job, as pregnant women were banned from working in the 1950’s. For a total of nine years Inez had taught art in the public schools, but now her career would take a new direction.

Her Sweetheart – Ed Sewell

At home as a wife and mother, Inez embarked on a new career avenue that utilized her degree from Pratt Institute in Advertising Design.

The newlyweds had a music studio in their home for Ed, and after they built an addition for their growing family, they turned a spare bedroom into an art studio for Inez. From here Inez sought out freelance opportunities for advertising art. She worked with many businesses, such as Pacific Pools, Colonie Block and Supply Co., and Reynolds Construction and Supply Co., and her work included creating brochures & logos, advertisements for newspapers and magazines, and catalog layouts. Inez provided layout design, mechanicals, copy, type specifications, hand lettering, and color separations. This was long before the time of computers, and Inez drew and prepared all her work by hand.

Here are two sample prototypes and their final products:

Inez also worked extensively for Argus-Greenwood printers of Albany, NY, Each Friday she would drive into Albany to drop off her work from the week and pick up her new assignments. One could say she was ahead of her time as a work-from-home advertising artist.

Thanks to Karen A. Sewell for the images for this post

Inez enjoyed this work for many years, but still made time for her personal art pursuits. Next up: We’ll take a look at some of the influences for her drawings and paintings in the 1960’s and 70s.

It’s October – Family History Month!

October is Family History Month. Here are three easy things you can do this month to begin saving YOUR family history. Just pick 1 to start and see where it takes you!

1. Dedicate a little notebook to use to jot down stories of your life and stories that you heard about your family. When you think of a new story, add it to your notebook. Need some prompts to start writing?

  • Describe the house you grew up in, what it was like in your neighborhood, who you played with and what games you played.
  • What is a funny story you remember about your parents or grandparents?
  • What was your favorite vacation and what details about it? Close your eyes and spend a few minutes “there again” and write down your memories.

2. Look at your old photographs and slides. Do they jog your memories? Take one picture and think long and hard about it. What was happening and who was there? Do you recall the feeling you had at the time the photograph was taken? Write down your memories associated with the picture (not on the photo, though – use a separate piece of paper).

3. Take a look at the many choices of free online sessions you can attend from the Allen County Public Library ACPL is one of the largest centers devoted to genealogy and family history research. Nearly every day they have a different workshop you can attend to learn more about gathering and saving your family history.

This photograph is of my great aunt, Ethel Reade. I never got to meet her, but I know she was a teacher in the NYC school system and her life companion, Kathleen Jester, taught English at the college level in NYC. This photograph was taken in their country home in Connecticut in the 1950’s. I like how the scene was posed with Ethel “reading” a book by the fireplace, no fire burning, a bed warmer hanging from the wall and an antique clock on the mantle.