Bringing memories to life


Do you have a photo of your grandfather playing with a toy car, or your great-grandmother wearing a brooch that has now been lost? What if you could recreate those items?

As genealogists, we’re always fascinated when we discover artifacts that belonged to our ancestors, whether it is the actual heirloom, or an image of it.

Sometimes the artifacts have been passed down through the generations; sometimes, we see them only in photographs.

Until now, this concept has been something in the realm of science fiction. However, industrial designer Tanya Damm Bokobza, the founder of, is developing a web platform that will allow the use of 3D modeling and printing processes to help people put the pieces of family history back together – literally.

She shared with us an example of what can be done.

A customer in his early 50s emailed Tanya an emotional story about a “school boy” figurine given to him by his late father when the customer was 10. The figurine bears a striking resemblance to his dad and is the only tangible object he has left from his father. He was interested in contemporizing the figurine in a new material his children could relate to, and, in the process, bond with them around a shared memory.

The figurine was missing an arm and its base was unstable. Using 3D scanners and advanced modeling, a team of specialist designers virtually recreated the figurine, secured a stronger base, “repaired” the missing arm, and printed three additional figurines using 3D printers.

Family heirloom: Bent figurine with missing arm
Family heirloom: Recreated figurine

Tanya has been contacted by others with a variety of requests:

  • One couple spent their first date watching a movie. As their relationship developed, that movie became very special and they asked her to recreate a pair of earrings worn by the lead actress.
  • A woman – who had inherited a ring from her own mother – had two daughters, both of whom wanted the ring.  She requested that an identical copy of the ring be made. Purposely, the mother mixed the rings up so that each daughter would think that they had the original ring.

The processes involved can take several weeks depending on complexity and can be made in a variety of materials including polymers, metals and ceramics. Once the virtual model is created, the design is stored and – as with any printer – as many copies as desired can be produced.

There are still limitations as to what can be recreated.  For example, fabric items, teddy bears, quilts and the like are not yet available. However, the technology is advancing quickly so those services might be available soon.

What do you think about this innovative service? Which family items would you like mended or recreated? Leave us a comment below, or, if you are interested in using this service and would like more information, please email us to .

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  • Reuven Granot

    August 5, 2012

    Wonderful idea you made it happen

  • KR

    August 5, 2012

    This type of service brings tears to my eyes. Modern technology is been put to great use helping people reconnect with their memories. AMAZING

  • Владимр

    August 7, 2012

    Я очень рад, за замечательную эту идею,память об наших предках возраждается и вещи которые остались по наследству востанавливаються чи то брошка от бабушки,чи то может перстень от прадеда фамильный по наследству это наша память на всю оставшуюся нашу жизнь,честь хвала,памьять и слава о наших предках!

  • Walter Harrington

    August 7, 2012

    Fantastic. This is great for family heirlooms, photos, etc. I imagine that this technology is used in archeology, forensic sciences, etc.

  • L.B

    August 7, 2012

    Amazing!! can’t wait to recreate a decorated peace in a table i was missing for years.

  • Jim (Hidden Genealogy Nuggets)

    August 8, 2012

    That is just amazing. I have to take a closer look at some of my old photos now paying more attention to those small details and what I might want to recreate.

    Regards, Jim

  • Aaron

    August 9, 2012

    Hi All. Thanks for your comments. If you’re interested in this service, please send an email to with your contact information and send a photograph and a description of what you would like to recreate.