Apr 10, 2012

Memory Jug

By
Sharon Teal Coray

Last night I was watching American Pickers and they found a beautiful “Memory Jug.”

I had never heard them called this although I had seen them at various antique shows and shops in the past.

This got me to thinking so I “googled” them and found out a lot about them.

Rare antique mourning Memory Jugs
They are known by many names, mourning jugs, ugly jars, forget-me-not jugs, whimsy jars, memory vessels and whatnot jars.

They originated in Africa’s Bakongo culture, which influenced slave communities in America. They believed that the spirit world was turned upside down, and that they were connected to it by water.

They decorated graves with water bearing items (shells, pitchers, jugs or vases), which would help the deceased through the watery world to the afterlife. Items were broken to release the loved one’s spirit so as to make the journey. Other objects decorated with mementos included high-button shoes, cigar boxes, lamps, transistor radios, teapots and even duck decoys.

In the late 19th century there was an increased interest in memory jugs. Victorians wanted to keep their mementos in one place.

Jugs are often found coated in a thick layer of lacquer or gold paint to glorify the recipient

The medium used to hold objects in place include mortar, plaster, and river clay or windowpane putty. Unfortunately most makers did not sign their work, but with modern science we now can date them by determining the adhesive that was used.

Values for memory objects range from $20 to simple forms and adornments to as much as $3,000 for elaborate examples with provenance. Last night I was watching American Pickers and they found a beautiful “Memory Jug.”

I had never heard them called this although I had seen them at various antique shows and shops in the past.

This got me to thinking so I “googled” them and found a lot about them.

They are know by many names, mourning jugs, ugly jars, forget-me-not jugs, whimsy jars, memory vessels and whatnot jars.

They originated in Africa’s Bakongo culture, which influenced slave communities in America. They believed that the spirit world was turned upside down, and that they were connected to it by water.

They decorated graves with water bearing items (shells, pitchers, jugs or vases), which would help the deceased through the watery world to the afterlife. Items were broken to release the loved one’s spirit so as to make the journey. Other objects decorated with mementos included high-button shoes, cigar boxes, lamps, transistor radios, teapots and even duck decoys.

In the late 19th century there was an increased interest in memory jugs. Victorians wanted to keep their mementos in one place

Jugs are often found coated in a thick layer of lacquer or gold paint to glorify the recipient

The medium used to hold objects in place include mortar, plaster, and river clay or windowpane putty. Unfortunately most makers did not sign their work, but with modern science we now can date them by determining the adhesive that was used. Values for memory objects range from $20 to simple forms and adornments to as much as $3,000 for elaborate examples with provenance. A grass-roots revival of ‘memory jug making’ swept through Appalachia and the African-American south in the 1950’s

Here is an easy way to make your own Memory Jug

Find an interesting jug or object

Wash and dry it completely

Cover it with a thick coat of windowpane putty

Press all kinds of trinkets into the clay while it is still moist, let I dry and then apply a clear acrylic sealer covering everything.

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Here is an easy way to make your own Memory Jug

Find an interesting jug or object

Wash and dry it completely

Cover it with a thick coat of windowpane putty

Press all kinds of trinkets into the clay while it is still moist, let I dry and then apply a clear acrylic sealer covering everything.

I think this would be a great project for children and teenagers.
Here are just a few examples I found.















New Free Pattern Blog

New Free Pattern Blog
Sharon Teal Coray has a new blog offering free patterns! Updated often! Check it out!