Sweet Memories

Memory jugs.  It wasn’t until very recently that I even knew what they were called.  There are a number of excellent articles and blog posts on the subject that discuss the history of the memory jug tying it back to the mourning vessels commonly used to mark graves in Africa many years ago.  Later this custom was also adopted in the black communities in the South.  During Victorian times memory jugs gained popularity as they were embellished with items of personal meaning and displayed as decorative objects of art.


This is a memory jug that was made by my great-grandmother long before I was born.  It is a simple glass jar.  Okay, it is a large, simple glass jar that is covered in clay into which she pressed her own “tiny treasures.”

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Up close you can see a piece of an old mirror, handles from china cups and plates, porcelain figurines, marbles, checkers, and a poker chip or two.  I have often wondered if the various broken or chipped china fragments were from her own cupboard.  Who knows?  And, of course, now it is too late to ask.  There’s a lesson there!

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I have always been drawn to the charm of this memory jug and it’s wonderful that it can continue to be passed down through our family.  Before too long I’m hoping to make one or two of my own to pass along to my children, a scrapbook of sorts filled with personally meaningful “little treasures.”  After all, 3 dimensional collage and assemblage is, as they say, “my thing!”

When I actually get around to this project I’ll be sure to share it with you.  Until then you can check out some terrific memory jugs at Pinterest (see my link), many of them are breathtakingly beautiful.  They all have a story to tell.


About Ellen Sharf Filreis

A finance and real estate professional in a former life, I am a self-taught artist currently working on several commissioned pieces of art. While my collage and assemblages cover a wide range of themes, my most important project at the moment is building on the Chai Spy ® brand which is a collaborative project with my daughter, Ayelet Ribakow who wrote the text for our book. Looking to license the art for the Jewish gift industry. The shadow box art is available for exhibition in Jewish venues for children and adults.
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