Last Christmas, my dad asked me to put together a display case for his grandfather's Purple Heart from WWI. Due to a busy Christmas season and beginning of the year, I didn't get this project finished until Easter, but you know...better late than never.
Based on my internet research, there's just very little out there on this type of project, so a lot of this was just from my own head. I worked closely with my dad to arrange everything in a way that he'd like. For instance, he prefers a linear display as opposed to a scrapbook, hodge-podge look with diagonal lines.
I started with a 16x20'' display case that I bought from Hobby Lobby.
I chose the dark blue canvas for the background, because I wanted a nice patriotic color, but white and red clashed with the heart. Red was too harsh. The canvas material added a nice texture that cotton doesn't provide. It was my dad's idea to have the ribbon edging, which is one of my favorite parts.
I added the little raised matte behind the Purple Heart to make it stand out more as the centerpiece. The Purple Heart is pinned into a loop of cloth, so it can be removed if necessary.
The papers are all high-quality, color copies of original documents, so nothing original was permanently adhered. There are newspaper clippings from his home-town paper about the Purple Heart award. The other cards are all military-related documents. The white block on the right are excerpts from letters he wrote to his wife while he was abroad, including one written from a hospital in Paris where he was being treated for getting gassed.
The center picture at the bottom is of my great-grandfather, the one who received the Purple Heart. Next to him is my grandfather, and on the outside is my father. The left side is reserved for photos my great-grandfather's other son and grandson who were also part of the military. We didn't have those on hand. The final project will include his family lineage, who all served in the military.
Everything is glued on with hot glue, which works well with paper and cloth. I was very careful to only use small amounts, so there would be no visible indications of glue through papers.
There wasn't much on the internet about military award displays like this when I first started researching this project. I hope this can inspire others to pull out those family heirloom awards and display them in a sophisticated, honorable way.