This particular blog post has so much meaning for me - earlier this year my cousin lost her long hard fought battle to cancer. Shari was an awesome person in presence, mind and spirit and is missed greatly by her family. She was also an avid costume jewelry fanatic! She left behind oodles and oodles, and her two daughters were at a loss what to do with it all. They asked if I could make something out of it for them. Teenagers, not big jewelry wearers, I thought long and hard what would have some meaning for them in terms of a keepsake. It came to me one day, maybe something to store special items from their mother. So I decided on keepsake boxes. How to do this? I had no idea! I knew I wanted to use as much jewelry as possible out of what they gave me. And my cousin had a love for butterflies and dragonflies, so why not start there?
I found some nice white lidded storage boxes, large enough to hold letters, trinkets, and even her family jewelry. Then I decided to cover the lids with fabric to use as a template for the overall design. I came across a beautiful blue cotton twill with vines, butterflies and dragonflies... perfect!
I made a transparency template, slightly bigger than the lid size, to cut the fabric so I could get the maximum number of butterflies and dragonflies on the top.
A fabric adhesive spray worked perfect to mount the fabric to the lid.
Fold the fabric over the edge and make sure this is glued down too (to be covered later).
Then I started taking apart her jewelry. She had enough I could actually get two separate colour stories out of it, without having to source for any extras. A woman after my own heart!
I started by taking apart chain to use as the vines and laying it in place to ensure the lengths were good. Using fabric glue, I drew a thin bead on the fabric, and gently laid the chain in place. Voila! Slightly finicky work but I was happy with the result. Note, if you want to try this yourself and don't have jewelry pliers, two regular needle nose pliers should be good enough to take apart most of your found items. I also found a pair of long nose tweezers quite handy for helping me to place objects just so.
With the vines completed (right to the edges of the lid), I started to tackle the butterflies. Slightly more time consuming, (ok... a lot), but also more fun and creative. I used parts of everything - beads, buttons, bracelets, brooches, her rubber cancer bracelets and cancer pins.
Even the lobster clasps and hooks came into great use as antennas! I took apart tons of jewelry and laid it all on the lid in a dry run to make sure it would work, then the long process of lifting each piece and gluing it down.
Once I was finished I needed a ribbon to mount around the edge of the lid to cover the fabric selvage. Thinking at first I would just use white, I came across some antique ribbon from our grandparents' old dry goods store. My grandmother had given me all of her sewing supplies years and years before she passed away, and I hung onto it all, never knowing if I would ever use it. Once I saw that this ribbon actually contributed to each box's colour story (containing blue, pink and purple), it was like a message was received! Slightly bolder as a trim than I had originally wanted... but so much more meaning. I took 24 hours to let everything settle and the glue harden and touched up any loose corners the next day.
Shari's girls knew I was making something for them, but didn't know what. I was so happy to see their smiles and receive big hugs when they got their keepsake boxes!! I have been missing her and this helped me feel connected. It was a bittersweet project for me. I'm sure there's tons of people out there a lot more crafty than myself for things like this, but whether old family jewelry has been passed down to you, or you just like craft projects, this is a little blog about memories.