Memorydex meets Memorex: Archiving Cassette Tape Covers


Sisters, 1980s

Readers of a certain age will remember the Rolodex. Danish engineer Hildaur Neilsen invented the rotating business contact holder for a stationery manufacturer in New York in 1958.

In 2015, American Craft designer Heide Swapp put her own spin on the Rolodex, and the crafting world went wild. She calls it a Memorydex. Instead of rotating boring contacts, you create, store, and rotate memories. Heide Swapp’s Memorydex is taller, and as luck would have it, about the same size as a cassette tape cover.

Packaging photo: copyright Heidi Swapp

You’ll also have to be a reader of a certain age to remember cassette tapes which peaked in the 1980s. My sister Sharon and I spent our twenties in that decade. Music cassette tapes were the thing. You could play them on a cassette player, in your car, or risk arrest by broadcasting your favorite artist on a Boombox.

Cassettes gave way to CD’s and now you can store your entire music collection on a computer hard drive or in the cloud. Nostalgia is another thing. Sharon stopped listening to her cassettes long ago, but the album art had meaning. When Sharon moved last year, she asked me to help her save all the covers.

I took it one step further and created a Memorydex cassette tape album cover archive. I’ve had so much fun. With a few tips from my friend Kelly, a crafter extraordinaire, I bought a punch

Memorydex Dies

and a pair of dies.

Memorydex Dies

I’m off my feet for six weeks after major foot surgery, so it’s been the perfect craft-from-the-couch project.

I created a gallery documenting the various steps. There are three styles of cassette covers including paper, cardboard, and multiple-fold. Here are the various steps (click on individual photos for details):

In addition to Sharon’s purchased music library, I included covers from various mix-tapes, her voice lessons, and a few random blank tapes. For a bit of added trivia, Sharon worked at Memorex in Santa Clara while attending college. There are one or two Memorex tapes in the mix as well. Sharon is thrilled with the results and I had a great time making this for her.


Sharon’s Cassette Tape Archive

More nostalgia at these links:

History of the cassette music tape

The invention of the Rolodex

Products, including Memorydex, Memorydex punch, and Memorydex dies available from:

Heidi Swapp

40 thoughts on “Memorydex meets Memorex: Archiving Cassette Tape Covers

  1. You never cease to amaze me with your creative ways! I was playing some old songs last weekend (most of which I have on the computer or iPad at this point), but I miss the largeness of the album art and liner notes. I can barely read CD inserts, and of course, the MP3 versions have nothing. What a nice way to save cassette art. I do remember those things–and mix tapes! Got your post card today and hope you are on your feet soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a kind thing to say, Lisa. Thank you.

      One of the problems once music shrunk from album to cassette to CD was squeezing all the print into a small space, hence the 8 pt font. The covers were still beautiful, but much smaller.

      Tomorrow is six weeks post-surgery. Next week I get to stuff my foot back into a boot/brace and walk with cruches using about 25% of my weight. I am SO afraid of falling with the crutches, so it will be slow going at first. I’m making progress though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous, fabulous gift, Alys! Such a thoughtful, unique idea, my creative friend! Sharon will always treasure this unique ‘walk down memory lane’ to the soundtrack of her favorite cassette covers. You have certainly taken crafting-from-the-couch to a new level! Thanks for introducing me to the Memorydex dies and punch. I hope you share this blog post with Heidi Swapp! She has dedicated her career to memory keeping and documenting the special moments of our lives. She would be delighted to see how you have used her Memorydex products, Alys! You could easily connect with her on Instagram!
    I hope your foot is healing nicely! Rest a bit longer and soon you will be back on your feet again. Your creative gift of love for your sister truly makes my heart smile! Love you, Alys!💗


    • Dawn, thank you for always cheering me on. You’re a pro at making people feel loved and appreciated. I posted this to Instagram (thanks for suggesting it) and got a “like” from Heidi Swapp. (Fan-girl squeal).

      I took a few steps on Friday with the support of a walker and an air brace/boot. My energy is increasing which feels wonderful. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t remember either Rolodex or Memorydex but this was an interesting post. The 1980s seems such a quaint time now.

    Mind you, I heard a rumour that cassettes might be making a comeback. There is certainly something to be said for the physical reality of a piece of kit but I am glad not to have the spools to rewind when it all goes wrong!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I worked in many offices in my younger years where a Rolodex was a staple. I was surprised they still sell them. Talk about staying power.

      I don’t miss the associated problems with the cassette tapes, but I like the nostalgia. When the movie “Guardian’s of the Galaxy” came out a few years back, the main character had a mix tape made for him by his deceased mother. That one movie set off interest in the cassette tape again, and they’ve enjoyed an upsurge. I find that fascinating.


    • Thank you! I’ve really enjoyed this project. I’ve also been researching grant opportunities for Lifted Spirits (serving homeless women) and I’ve re-engaged with Postcrossing, sending cards around the globe. I hope you are doing well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Derrick. It’s been a lot of fun. The surgery involved major repairs to two shredded tendons and some shoring up of the ankle ligament. The first two weeks were horrible, but the pain is gradually easing. Next week I can strart putting some weight on it with the use of crutches and a fancy boot. I swear I will never taking walking for granted again. Thanks for your well wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so impressed, Alys. You have outdone yourself here. 🙂 I don’t have any cassette tapes still in my possession, but I have hundreds, maybe thousands, of CDs, none of which I play anymore because of streaming, and although they take up important storage, I just don’t know how to release them. I still have vinyl, so things do come around again. But perhaps if I could think about some of the “cover art” differently, maybe I could at least release a little of the bulk. I will be thinking, that’s certain! I hope your surgery resolves your issues and that healing is swift. Glad to know you’re using your “down” time so creatively. 🙂


    • Thank you, Debra! I think we all carry quite a bit of nostalgia around music. It defines each generation in many ways, and I think it’s also a connection to our youth. Since you can listen to your music in other ways, a starting point might be removing the art from the CD and sorting it by genre or artist or even decade. I’m thinking you could use a two-hole punch, and collect all those covers on D-Rings. They would be a fun conversation piece, and a chance to look at them with more frequency without the bulk. You could cut a small piece of plastic for the front and back of the stack to keep the dust off the art. CD’s take up a fair amount of room, so it can also be fun to think how you might use that space differently.


  5. You are a wonder, that’s what you are! Such a fantastic present and a great project for you while you were off your feet for six weeks. Yikes! How confining that must have been. I also really, really like the top picture of those two lively young women at the start their journey into adulthood. Made me smile. Also brought tears to my eyes. I find that the older I get, the more sentimental I become.


  6. What a fun way to preserve meaningful ephemera. What can you come up with for LP covers? I hope your foot recovers very quickly and completely, and in the meantime, I hope you find another sofa-bound project 🙂


    • Thank you, Kate. My husband Mike didn’t want to part with his vinyl collection until we came up with a plan. I had my boys, young at the time, pose with all the various covers, then I made it into a video slide show. Other ideas, including creating a collage. I know many people who remain attached because its a chapter from their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wowzer! You’ve done an amazing job of putting it all together! I love it 😀 It filled up Sharon’s Memorydex nicely too. Thank you for linking back to my blog sweets xox I bet Sharon was blown away. It’s be fun to include photos like the one at the top of this blog too! Crafters kind of forgot about their Memorydex for a while, but they’re back and there’s even a number of weekly challenges going on with crafters making amazing cards. I especially love Rachel Lowe and Heather Wilson Shank on Instagram. xoxoxo ❤


    • Thank you for cheering me on, Boomdee! It’s been a lot of fun. It seemed daunting at first, cutting all the smaller covers, but punching the larger ones went quickly and helped round out the Memorydex. I bought one for myself as well and I look forward to future projects. I will check out the artis you mention on Instagram. Thanks for always inspiring me. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I bought a rolodex still in it’s box from the op-shop a few months ago…I use the cards for various reasons with my art-making…
    I believe you can still buy rolodex cards – and they are in various sizes…

    Love the idea you had to make a flip thru’ memory…and a great project when you’ve laid up with foot troubles…safe journey with the crutches…


    • That’s a great idea. I bought a second Memorydex for my own use after having so much fun with my sister’s Memorydex. It’s a nice way to create little pieces of art or save samples of things. I’m looking forward to filling it with treasure.


  9. I can’t leave a ‘like’ for some reason this morning – but otherwise I’m back! 🙂 This is wonderful Alys – hours of fun for both you and Sharon I’m sure. I really like how you have added in a few other mementoes as well. You’ll be up for the #bestsister award I reckon. My collection of tapes is long gone, but my collection of CD’s remains even though I no longer play them as I too am a modern woman and living in the cloud…… I really should do something about moving them on out of here, but sometimes it is nice to shuffle through and remember some music I don’t hear any more.


    • I’ve been having trouble “likeing” things as well. It’s as if I’m not logged in. I works if I do it from the Reader but not on the actually blog sites. Weird.

      Welcome back. I am really looking forward to your progress post on your new and improved flat. It’s exciting! Sharon was quite sick for two weeks, so it was nice to have this little gift ready for her as a pick-me-up.

      As for your CD covers, it might be fun to remove all the covers, ditch the CDs (read, extra SPACE) and collect them with D-rings or create a special book. There is something special about having all that art together, and sometimes the song lyrics and a bio as well. Music and smells trigger memories like nothing else. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, that’s good to know Alkys – maybe it’s not us, its WP gremlins! I keep trying to make a blog post, but then I have to shoot off and do something else so it is probably still a bit away. The tiny house is beginning to resemble a home again and it is looking better than it has for many a year. I’m so thrilled! I’m sorry to hear Sharon has been suffering. I hope she is doing better now. How’s your own recuperation coming? We seem to be at that age when there is always someone with something falling off – or threatening to! I do keep thinking I might quite like to make some dangly things with the old CD’s – if we had had a summer I might have been inspired, but it didn’t happen. In the meantime CD’s (and DVD’s too) sit on my shelves taking up precious space when they could be great works of art 🙂 There’s always next year isn’t there?


        • Darn those WP gremlins. They’re sneaky little bits of code, eh?

          I’m excited about all the cosmetic changes, but I’m hugely relieved to hear about the remediation of the black mold. Good grief that stuff is nasty.

          A full on makeover with a new and improved bathroom, flooring and soon paint, sound marvelous.

          Sharon had a cold that layed her very low. I’ll share more in a private text.

          I’ve just had another thought on your CDs. You could cover your conservatory roof with them, cooling the place down (reflective side out), while crating a show-stopping cover of tunes. Oh how I wish I lived down the street from you. We could have fun playing with your collection. xo


  10. Oh yes, I remember these. I think they had a different name in the UK though…. brought back memories of visiting my Dad‘s office when I was little and sitting on his chair that swivelled! LOL! I hope the foot surgery has gone well and you will make a rapid recovery Alys. Wishing you all the best! xx


    • What a fun memory, Cathy. I looked it up, and apparently in the UK they were called organiser’s.

      Need synonyms for Rolodex? Here’s a list of similar words from our thesaurus that you can use instead.
      business card file.
      card index.
      personal organizer.
      address book.

      It’s been a slow recovery but tomorrow till be six weeks. I’m now allowed to take steps using a walker and a boot. It feels so good to be upright again, albeit painful. Baby steps!

      Thank you for your well wishes. xo

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sheryl. I’ve been walking assited for two weeks, wearing the air boot and graudally increasing my mobility. I still have quite a bit of swelling, so I’m trying to be patient with myself without gong stir crazy. I hope you are healthy and doing well. xo


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