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Make Your Own Memory Jar

By Edited Dec 2, 2016 0 0

Occasionally antique hunters will turn up a Folk Art "memory jar" or "memory jug," which people made by attaching objects that meant something to them with cement, glue or grout onto an old jar.  Sometimes memory jars were made to honor a deceased loved one and featured items special to that person. Memory jars were popular early in the 20th century, and probably originated in the Old South.  Sometimes they are painted, other times left bare in order to see the objects better. Make your own memory jar to remember highlights of your life or someone else's, and preserve it for future generations to cherish.

Start by collecting memorabilia. You can use almost anything for a mosaic memory jar: costume jewelry, sea glass, marbles, broken toys, buttons, broken dishes. Avoid using anything that will be damaged by the elements, such as cloth or wood objects. But go to town with any other found objects to give your mosaic a truly personal touch. Perhaps you had a favorite cup that broke; save the pieces for your memory jar. Perhaps you won a little trinket at a fair that you attended with someone special –- that's an ideal addition. Save "lucky pennies" and things that other people might see as junk, such as parts from a broken phone, a Lego or other piece of a toy from your childhood, a hair clip, or chips from a vase that you liked.

When you have a sizable collection, it's time to start your memory jar. Find a discarded jug, bottle or jar;  for example, you might use one of those old Chianti bottles for its interesting shape, or even an old plant pot that is too plain for the garden. If you have nothing suitable around the house, you can probably find something perfect at a thrift store for very little money.

Purchase a small can of primer, a foam brush and some sanded grout from a home improvement store. Choose a color of grout based on your preference and the type of items in your collection. For example, if most of your items are dark, a lighter colored grout will provide good contrast.  Paint the jar with primer and let it dry. This will help your objects better adhere to the jar. Then mix up the grout according to package directions.

Lay the jar on its side while you work, and support it with a folded rag underneath. Using a small piece of stiff cardboard (pieces from a corrugated box work well), scoop up some of the grout and spread it on the jar, working fairly thickly; about ¼ inch should be sufficient to hold most objects, but if you have something fairly large, such as a toy car, for example, you may need more grout. You can always regrout difficult pieces later if they do not hold. Until you get the hang of it, spread grout over just a few square inches at a time.

Press your memory objects into the grout, taking care not to get the grout on top of the objects. Do this all over one side of the jar, then let it dry and repeat on the other sides.

When all objects are firmly grouted onto the jar, stand back and survey your work. A layer of polyurethane for extra protection is a good idea (you can buy spray cans of this), or consider painting areas of the grout with bright acrylic paints. If you wish, sign your jar with your name and the date, either on the bottom using a permanent marker, or boldly on the front; it's up to you.

 

 

 

 

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