Grandmother's Jewelry on our Tree
More Christmas crafts~
Creating Heirloom Ornaments from Grandmother's Jewelry
Yesterday my blog was about creating ornaments for the family's tree out of buttons from Grandmother's button box. The idea came from a friend from my youth, and I love her idea and creativity. It brought to mind another friend's creations for family trees from her grandmother's jewelry. She's a beautiful writer and has her own blog. I'll let her tell you:
Hanging Up Heritage~
My beloved maternal grandmother passed away just after Christmas of 2007. I am forever grateful that we got that last Christmas with her; as her passing was sudden and completely unexpected. It took a while for my mom and her sisters to go through her things, but after they did, they came back with keepsakes for all of us. Among the many things I was given, were several pieces of my grandmother’s jewelry. Some of it was valuable and sentimental, and others less seemingly so. My mom scooped up a handful of the latter along with a cluster of old buttons and beads and said “we thought you could do something creative with this.” Hmmm, that got my wheelhouse turning. How could I repurpose these pieces of what most would think to be dispensable into something meaningful? Whatever it was, I knew I wanted it to be something that honored my grandmother and I wanted it to be something I could share with the entire family. The idea of ornaments came to mind, as my grandma LOVED Christmas.
Reflecting on our many yuletide memories solidified my notions of figuring out a way to fashion ornaments out of my grandmother’s things. I went to my local craft store (aka my second sanctuary) and found unfinished glass ornaments of various shapes and sizes. Some were flattened circles, others spheres, and I even used cubes. Most of her jewelry and buttons shared a common theme of colorful rhinestones and varying shades of metallic. I procured metallic acrylic paints in ruby, emerald, sapphire, and pearl. They perfectly complimented the jewel tones I was working with. Then I set up a makeshift workshop and got busy.
I did my best to channel the craftiness of my grandmother, and in an elfin-like state, I began painting ornaments, snipping the backs off buttons and lapel pins, and removing clasps from bracelets and necklaces. Wire snips, a metal file, and E 6000 glue became my new best friends. All in all, I had enough supplies to create sixteen unique ornaments. That was one for each couple in our family. Every one of those ten grandchildren, plus the aunts and uncle pairs, were able to receive one. Next came a way to present these gifts in a special way. Sturdy cardboard boxes seemed the way to go in perfect ornament size. I found them!
I wanted a way to explain to the family (as all of this was done in a great shroud of mystery and surprise) what I had done and also give them a way to see everyone else’s ornaments; as we are spread out geographically. A photo book seemed like the perfect solution. I took pictures of each ornament hanging on my Christmas tree, and then adapted a version of “The Night Before Christmas” to add some festive commentary to the images. I ordered 3X5 soft-cover books from Walgreens and they were perfectly sized for the boxes I had chosen.
Once I had collected all of the components, I started assembling my packages. Each ornament was carefully wrapped in white tissue paper and then a thin layer of bubble wrap. If my memory serves me correctly, a handwritten Christmas greeting was written in what else, but gold paint pen, my grandmother's favorite. The books fit neatly inside each box. They were then wrapped in parcel paper, addressed, and sent on their merry way. The response I got to these gifts was emotional and overwhelming. My family was so moved that they each now had a tangible way to remember my grandmother at her most favorite time of year.
This project was indeed labor intensive, but with every stroke of the paintbrush and with each dot of glue, I couldn’t help but think I was making Betty proud. The beauty in these ornaments is not just in their physical attributes, but the rich memories that they represent. What began as a fleeting thought turned into a wonderful way to dress up our trees each year by hanging a little heritage among their branches. My grandmother may be gone, but she truly is with us in spirit and her remembrance is a treasure I deeply cherish.
Thank you, Sara, for sharing this wonderful family tradition. I hope it inspires others to create remembrances, not just for our grandchildren, but others in our family as well.
I'm going to be sad when this holiday season is over. I have loved getting these wonderful family traditions and creations from my friends and readers; from my sweet sister-in-law sharing her travel-to-England book to Judye's button box and now to Sara's beautiful ornaments. I hope you've found something that inspires you to share (and maybe create) with your own grandchildren.
Happy Creating to you!
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Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!