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.