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DIY Memorials: Keepsake Crafts for Remembrance

We live in a world where factories exist, and many items are mass-produced.   Those items aren't necessarily wrong when it comes to convenience and affordability. But it can also feel impersonal and cold—as more and more people embrace small businesses and hand-made items with unique artisan details. 

Many also have turned to hand-made memorial projects. Making and crafting keepsakes in remembrance that hold a personal touch unique to them and the person they are memorializing.      

Why Consider Hand-Made Memorial Keepsakes?

Hand-crafted keepsakes embrace human potential and connection, giving individuals a voice they may not otherwise have. Expressing our grief and mourning is an individual as we are, and no two people are exactly alike.  Creating a hand-made keepsake is a chance to voice the intensely personal emotions of loss, grieving, sorrow, and deep abiding love one may have for their departed while providing a voice to the recently departed.

For many people, creating art and loving can be the same thing. When you create, no matter how large or small, you leave a piece of yourself within it and memories of your loved one's unique personality. Creating a DIY memorial piece is celebrating the things they loved during life while expressing how deeply you miss them. In addition to holding a more personal touch, hand-made items are unique, as no two items will turn out exactly alike.      

DIY Memorial Projects for Crafting Keepsakes

Memorial Photo Frame

Whether you choose to repurpose a large photo frame, purchase one, or make one by hand, this project can be done by all levels of artists. All you need is a picture frame, twine, clothes pins, and photos you wish to hang of the person you want to remember. 

These photos can be instant photos, such as Polaroids, or home or professionally printed images. The only thing to be mindful of is a uniform size to hang them evenly and fit within the frame. Next, a series of screws or nails can be placed at even intervals to the left and right side of the frame; then, twine can be cut and tied to the screws or nails. Once the twine is affixed, all that is needed is to hang your photos with clothespins along the twine.

Another fantastic feature of this DIY memorial keepsake is that you can mix, match, remove, and add new or older photos whenever you wish.      

No-Sew DIY Memorial Pillow

Shirts and other clothing items may hold some of the most precious memories. Whether it's grandpa who always wore a specific type of flannel shirt or your mother's varsity jacket—you can create a comforting memorial pillow without needing to learn how to sew. All this requires is an article of clothing large enough to be cut into a square pillow size, stuffing or a pillow without a cover, fabric scissors, iron-on hemming tape, and an iron.   

If you have new pillows without a pillow sleeve, you can begin by determining how large the pillow is. For example, the most common size of a chair or couch pillow ranges from 18x18 or 20x20 inches. If your new pillow is 18x18, cut your chosen fabric at 20x20 inches to account for seams. If your pillow is 20x20, cut it to 22x22. 

Cut the clothing to size, then flip the clothing so that the right sides/correct sides are together, and carefully measure iron-on hemming tape for the top, bottom, and sides. Place the tape between the layers. 

Whether you use a pre-made pillow with no case or choose to stuff the clothing by hand, remember to leave an un-ironed, open side for the pillow or stuffing to be placed before finishing the pillow by ironing it shut.      

DIY Memorial Rocks for a Garden or Gravesite

For those considering a memorial garden, have one already, or wish to leave something hand-made beside a loved one's grave, you can create works of art or leave heartfelt phrases on various stones.

To create a memorial rock, you need: 

  • The smoothest rocks available. They can come from nature in your garden,  or you can find them at garden centers, landscape supply stores, and craft stores. 
  •  Acrylic paint markers with either a fine tip or extra fine tips. 
  •  A waterproof, outdoor use spray sealant, matte (without shine), or whichever finish you prefer. 
  •  Before adding the marker, a pencil is needed for lighting, writing, or sketching. 

Wash your rock or rocks thoroughly with soap and water, then let them dry thoroughly overnight. Next, write the words, phrases, dates, or images you wish to have on the rock with a pencil first, then use acrylic paint markers to trace over any letters or paint the design you chose. Let the paint marker dry thoroughly, then apply several light coats of sealer—preferably outside on a piece of cardboard or similar to protect lawns or driveways. 
Whether you are crafting a keepsake for yourself or a dear friend or family member in mourning, memorial keepsakes that you craft are priceless gifts of creativity and love, offering condolences and a step in the path toward the long healing journey.

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