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Oct 2010 Article
Thinking “Outside the Box”
Making a Memory Box with Nontraditional Colors
by Linda P.
“I would like my memory box to be black and white.”
When I read this individual request on the HAIN forum, I was a bit hesitant to take it on. I had never made a memory box in black and white, and I wasn’t sure how I would go about it. After a bit of consideration, however, I decided that I would accept the challenge.
First of all, I decided to go to a craft store to look at their flat painted wooden figures to see if I could find something in black and white to decorate the lid. I found a sheep and a zebra. I brought home both so that I could think about which one I wanted to use. I decided on the sheep, saving the zebra for a future box.
The white wool on the sheep was a thin layer of felt. The picture may look blurry to you, but it is actually the edge of the dark face of the sheep covered by the translucent layer of thin felt. Also, there is some white shading painted on the right side of the face. The sheep would have been OK to use as it was, but I decided I wanted to dress it up a bit.
I used glitter glue with iridescent sparkles to make curved lines that would look like sheep’s wool. After that dried, I used that same glitter glue to paint over the black areas. While it was still wet, I sprinkled fine-textured black glitter over it. When that dried, I also painted some white metallic paint over some of the curves. I really liked the new and improved sheep!
Next I needed to decide which parts of the box I wanted black and which I wanted white. I decided I wanted the main color on the outside of the box to be white, and I would use black as an accent color. The paints I chose were metallic colors.
In contrast to the white outside, I decided to paint the inside of the box black, but I added polka dots to soften the look. The polka dots can be applied with a paint pen. I also added some cute polka dotted ribbon with a glue gun. I ran one strip all the way around the box where it would be visible just below the lid when it was in place.
I placed four vertical strips of the polka-dotted ribbon on as well. A couple of the strips were covering some imperfections on the box. There were also some imperfections on the bottom of the outside of the box. I decided that I would cover them with the fine black glitter I used on the sheep. I had the iridescent glitter glue handy, so I applied that first before sprinkling on the glitter.
I thought painting white hearts between the vertical strips of ribbon would be pretty, so I did that with a paintbrush. When the paint dried, I applied glitter glue to the heart and then sprinkled on some coarse-textured clear glitter.
I had some pretty black trim that I applied around the top of the box using a glue gun. I also attached the sheep and then added some black buttons as the final accent.
I really like the way the box turned out! I never would have thought of using black and white on a memory box, but after this mom requested it, I came to realize that it could be done and the result could be very sweet.
Oct 2009 Article
Making Memory Boxes on a Budget
Money is tight, but your heart tells you that continuing to make memory boxes for hurting families is important and something you feel led to do. Below is a list of ideas which may help you continue to make memory boxes even when cash is short. Many of these ideas may be used for HAIN’s knitters, crocheters, and seamstresses as well!
1. Let your friends and family know about HAIN, and tell them that you make memory boxes. Tell them that you’d really appreciate it if they would alert you to really good sales of items that could be used for memory box making, things like lace, trim, acrylic paint, paper mache boxes, appliqués, etc. Who knows? If your mom or best friend sees a REALLY good deal, they might even pick up an item for you themselves and present it to you as a crafting gift! Also, if others know you make memory boxes for HAIN, you might come to mind when they are clearing out some of their craft stash. Many people would feel really good about thinning out their supplies if they know they are going toward such a worthy cause.
2. If you are asked what you would like for Christmas, birthday, etc., consider asking for a craft store gift card. You can spend some of it on memory box supplies. This is a great gift for those who love to make and give memory boxes, but just don’t have a lot of spare cash.
3. Always check the craft store clearance aisles for memory box supplies. I was thrilled to find some animal appliqués in the clearance aisle at JoAnn’s a while back. I had admired them when they were full price, thinking they would make cute memory box decorations, but I hadn’t bought any because of the price. When I saw they were on for 50 cents each, well, let’s just say I stocked up!
4. Shop end-of-holiday sales. Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas are especially good times to find items that might be just what you need for a memory box. Many memory box makers put stuffed animals in their boxes, and these holidays are good time to find marked-down stuffed animals. Obviously, I don’t choose animals that have “Happy Valentine’s Day” or “Merry Christmas” embroidered across their chests, but there are many choices that do not bear evidence of a specific holiday. After Valentine’s Day this year I found some cute Teddy bears that were a perfect size for placing in memory boxes. They were 75% off! The fact that they were attached to a small box of chocolates was just a little added bonus for my nibbling pleasure!
5. If you have a large craft stash (Hmmmm, that would be me!), refresh your memory as to what you already have by looking through your supplies periodically. You may find something that seems just perfect for decorating a memory box, something you didn’t even remember you had! Yes, the curse of the craft supply hoarder is that you forget what you have!
6. Sign up for craft store email and regular mail lists. I signed up to get Joann’s sale ads and coupons through the mail. Michael’s sale ads come through the mail automatically where I live, and I didn’t even have to sign up to receive them. I have, however, signed up to be on their email list. Sometimes they email me extra coupons! I have also signed up to receive Hobby Lobby’s email ads and coupons.
I hope some of these suggestions will help someone. It is such a privilege to provide families with a lovingly decorated box for holding some of their baby’s special memorial items. If one of these suggestions helps someone to be able to make more boxes, then my mission has been accomplished.
July 2009 Article
Making Memory Boxes: Encouragement for the Craft-Challenged !
by Linda Postma
Sewing, crocheting, knitting, making memory boxes . . . . When new or potential members see the main crafts that HAIN volunteers participate in, some may think, “Well, I can’t sew, knit, or crochet, and I’m surely not crafty enough to make a memory box.” Hold on there! I will gently admonish you regarding your lack of confidence in yourself! Consider this article an encouragement for those of you who would like to make memory boxes but have no confidence in your abilities. By the end of this article, you just might find yourself saying, “Hey, I think I could do that!”
First of all, what exactly is a memory box? It is a box which a HAIN volunteer lovingly prepares for a mother who has lost her baby. The box will be given to her to hold certain memorial items she chooses to place in it, such as a blanket, an outfit, a lock of hair, pictures, or other items. Making memory boxes is just one small way to wrap your arms around and comfort a hurting mother who may live hundreds of miles away. It is a wonderful service, and I encourage you to consider participating. Here, let me help you get started!
First of all, you need a box. A simple way to start is to buy a paper mache box from a craft store. You will find round, rectangular, heart-shaped, oval—take your pick. I am about to start decorating a round one that is 10” across and 5“ high. The size you choose, however, is flexible. Watch for sales and use those craft store coupons!
Now it’s time to find something to decorate the box lid. Never fear! The decorating part can be painless and even fun, I promise! Many people decorate the lid with flat wooden cut-outs which are already painted and can be found in the wood section of craft stores. There are blue elephants (one of my favorites for little boy boxes), butterflies, ladybugs, and more. Another easy route to go is to use iron on-type appliqués. Again, look for sales and save those craft store coupons for buying appliqués not on sale. The appliqués come in a wide variety of designs. My favorites for memory boxes are flowers, birds, hearts, and butterflies.
After you pick your decoration for the lid, decide what color paint would look nice with it, and use this color to paint the box. You may choose pink or blue, but you are not limited to these traditional boy and girl colors by any means. Feel free to use other colors as well. I would stay away from black because I think it is better to choose more cheerful colors for a mother who is grieving. I paint my boxes with acrylic paint, and I love to use the metallic colors because they have a natural sheen to them. Then I feel that I don’t need to add any kind of special finish at the end. Some people use regular acrylic paint and then add a final coat of Mod Podge (found in the decoupage/glue section of craft stores) after watering it down a bit.
After your box is painted and has thoroughly dried, you can add your wooden cut-out or appliqué to the top of the lid. I use hot glue to attach it. If you wish to add more decoration to your box, you can add lace or trim. Again, I use hot glue for this. I also sometimes decorate with paint pens. These can also be found at craft stores. They look similar to magic markers, but the liquid that flows from the pen comes out looking like paint. They are nice to use to add some final touches along with or instead of lace or trim. You could add little polka dots to the box, as one easy idea.
Now, dear craft-timid friend, do you feel like maybe you actually could make a memory box? Once you get started and see that it isn’t so hard after all, then feel free to branch out and try new techniques. And you might, yes, you just might find that you love making memory boxes.
Be sure to view the slide show on the HAIN introduction page to see memory boxes some HAIN volunteers have made. Also, on the public area of our forum, look under “Pictures of Donations” for some additional photos of boxes. These will give you some ideas. If you are interested in making memory boxes, but you have not yet joined HAIN, we would love to have you become a part of us! Once you have joined, you will have access to other information on memory box-making on our forum.
April 2009 Article
A Labor of Love: Making Memory Boxes by Linda Postma
Cloth butter flies and applique’ flowers bring beauty to a garden made of ribbon twirls and twists of trim. Brilliant tubes of glitter add their sunshine to the scene. Oft-used paint bottles stand at attention like garden statues. A simple, unassuming brown box sits humbly to the side like a bare brown hill amidst this garden of color.
This is how it starts for me when I turn my dining room table into a garden, a garden of beautiful items just waiting to turn a modest paper mache’ box into a treasure. I consider transforming a box to be a sacred task because I am doing it for a mother who is walking down a very lonely road. She has lost a baby.
When I start decorating a memory box, I am not always sure where I will end up. Each box evolves as I work on it. As I pluck a flower from my dining table garden and place it on the box, my mind is filled with new ideas of what to do next. I would like to think that the Lord is providing me with some of His inspiration because I am using the gift he has give n me, using it to show His love.
When the box’s transformation is complete, I then fill it with some of the love I felt as I was making it. I tuck in a soft little bear, a fragrant candle, perhaps a little bracelet. There might also be a tiny angel bead threaded onto long, flowing, beautiful yarns which may mark this mother’s place in a book someday and remind her that a stranger cared about her.
A little note is always included in every box. I want the mom to know what a privilege it is for me to be able to share part of myself with her while she is making such a difficult journey. The three silk rose petals I place in each box are my way of adding a little extra beauty to my gift.
The box will travel the miles until it safely rests in her arms. She will receive it and hold it gently, tilting it from side to side, examining the creation that someone far away made just for her. The box becomes a resting place for20precious memories, perhaps a baby lock of hair, a little blanket, or a cap. That my box will bring some peace and comfort to the heart of a mom with empty arms--that is my prayer.