I forget where I first saw a memory jar pendant, but I immediately knew that I would be making some. We were planning a big extended family trip to the beach to celebrate my parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. It would mean three generations in one house, lots of teenagers, lots of noise, lots of food, and lots of fun…surely something to remember!
Because I knew what I needed I was able to find the beach treasures, namely shells and sand, that I wanted to use and bring them home to make my memory jars authentic. I was also able to watch sales and coupons to get the best possible deals on my jewelry-making supplies. If you’re using “found” mementos like shells, make sure you clean them thoroughly before you seal them in your memory jar. You don’t want to have a science project on your hands later!
The blue & white bead on my necklace was produced at a glass factory near my parents’ home. Mom had given me three of the beads, samples handed out during a tour, months ago. She said she thought I’d figure out something to do with them. If you don’t have a bead or charm that has meaning for you, you can always select a charm, bead, or birth stone from your local craft store.
I’ll explain how I made the jar ornaments here, beginning with the ones containing beads to be used for jewelry. Some of the pictures show my work on jars containing sand. We’ll chat later about sterilizing sand and beading a necklace. Remind me to show you the wire-wrapped shell pendants I made! But for now, here’s how to make the cute little jars!
Memory Jar Pendant (or Ornament)
What You’ll Need:
- a 1 1/2 inch glass jar with tight-fitting cork stopper (These are similar to what I used.)
- seed beads in your desired color(s) (These are pretty.)
- small mementos to put in the jar (I found my shells on the beach. You use what works for your memories.)
- a large straight pin or needle
- a head pin (I purchased a package of jewelry findings similar to this one that included head pins and other items I knew I’d need.)
- clear epoxy (I didn’t like the epoxy I used but I hear E6000 is supposed to be good.)
- small pliers (I don’t own proper jewelry pliers, so I used what I had. Round nose pliers like these would have helped.)
- a bead or small charm that complements or represents your memory jar theme (These are cute!)
- 2 eye pins or 24 gauge wire (Craft wire works just fine in my world, but you could use precious metal if you choose.)
- one split ring
What to Do:
Protect your work surface! You’ll be using epoxy, and if your tube explodes (like mine did) then you’ll be so glad you covered the surface (like I did) before you started with the glue. You don’t see the covered surface in my photos because I was trying to make the pictures look better, but I absolutely covered the table once the epoxy came out!
If you’re using multiple colors of seed beads, combine a few in a small container to get the mix you like. The jars are small, so it won’t take too many beads. Our beach memories were made at a place known for “sugar sand” and I wanted a near-white bead mixture with a little sparkle, so I used crystal, frosted crystal, and opaque off white seed beads. If I’d been trying for the darker sand of one of my husband’s and my favorite East Coast beaches I would have skipped the clear crystal and used a light beige/tan instead or just purchased a mix like this one.
Fill your jar about 1/3 full of your seed bead mix. You can always tweak the amount of seed beads once you add your mementos (in my case, tiny shells).
The add your trinkets (shells) and check to see how the jar looks. Add or subtract beads, mementos, or other fillers until the jar looks the way you want it to. Put the cork in place to make sure it all fits properly but don’t glue it yet!
Once you have your beads and mementos the way you want them in the jar, remove the cork. Set the filled jar aside while you add the head pin and make a loop so you can suspend the Memory Jar from a necklace or ornament hook.
Use the large straight pin or the large needle to poke a hole all the way through the center of the cork from top to bottom. I used a flower head pin but suspect a needle would have been better. Remove the flower pin or needle and insert the head pin from the bottom to the top of the cork so the flat head of the pin is positioned to be inside the sealed jar.
Before you press the head of the pin up against the cork, add a bit of epoxy. Then pull the head pin so the head is flush against the cork. You should probably let the epoxy dry before you continue…or you could just plow ahead like I did!
Because I have not done much jewelry making I have not invested in a full set of jewelry tools. A set of round nose pliers would have been very helpful at this point, but I made do with my plain old needle nose pair. When my crimps were a little flat I tried to work the wire a little bit, even jamming the closed pliers into loops to round them out. It’s always easier to do projects with the correct tools but sometimes it’s possible to make do. Your call in your case.
I used my plain old pliers to make a loop in the top of the head pin, near the top of the cork, and then wrap the remaining part of the pin around and around the base of the loop until it was flush. This created a hanging loop. If you want to use a solid rather than a split ring to attach the finished Memory Jar Pendant to a necklace then you will want to slip the ring onto the pin and make the loop around it.
With the head pin in place, I carefully put a thin layer of epoxy around the side of the cork and slid it into place in the bottle so that the epoxy completely sealed the bottle. Be sure to use epoxy that will dry clear! Do let the expoy dry before continuing to work with the bottle.
While the epoxy is drying, use your bead or charm and the eye pin to create a “dangle” for the pendant. If your charm has a large ring or loop that will slide off of the eye pin then you might need to add a smaller bead or something before you add the charm in order to keep the charm from sliding off. Once you’ve arranged your bead(s) and or charm on the pin, use the pliers to curl the end of the pin into a spiral. There are lots of instructional videos on YouTube for making spirals, so I won’t repeat that here.
Make sure the epoxy on your jar is dry before you continue. Put four seed beads on the second eye pin and then slide the end of the pin through the loop at the top of the jar. Twist the free end of the pin loosely around the loop so the pin is secured to the jar but can still move freely. Curl the end of the pin with the seed beads into a spiral.
Use a split ring to attach the two eyes of the eye pins to each other. The spiral of the pin with the seed beads should stick up and the beads (and/or charm) should dangle down the side of the jar. If you don’t have any eye pins you could use 24 gauge wire to create your dangle. You’ll just have to bend the loops with pliers.
You can use a split ring to attach the Memory Jar Pendant to a beaded necklace or you could just wear it on a pretty ribbon. You can add a bow to the top instead of the dangle and make an ornament for your Christmas tree. You might even make a collection of memory jars to display.
I’ll share how I made the beaded necklace in another post. With the materials I had left over from making my Memory Jar Pendant and the beaded necklace, I also made a pair of earrings. My daughter has already claimed them to wear to a Christmas dance.
And I used more of the 24 gauge wire and some larger shell pieces to make wrapped wire pendants. I had quite a mess of shells, beads, and wire scattered around when I was done with my beading binge!
What kind of mementos do you like to keep near you?
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