Step-by-step instructions on creating a personalized keepsake from the beach.

DIY: Sand Keepsake Jar

I love souvenirs from our travels. There is something wonderful about having a tangible item to bring home with us to remember our trip. But, I am also pretty frugal when it comes to what I’m willing to buy, and I’m pretty picky with what I’m willing to display in our house (no room for a spoon collection here, and I just don’t need another mug). I try to come up with cheap and creative ways to remember our trip, so I was thrilled with how my project for our most recent beach trip turned out.

I started by getting plain glass jars with flat sides. I thought it would be easier to etch a flat surface. There are three jars because our beach vacation was a family reunion with us, Matt’s parents, and Matt’s brother’s family. I made one jar for each family to take home and have in their house.

Find jars big enough to collect sand and shells.

Find jars big enough to collect sand and shells.

The first step is creating your stencil. I used a Silhouette to create the design I wanted on my jars, but you could just as easily use pre-made vinyl stickers to spell out the words you want. Then you need to decide whether to work with the positive or negative space of the sticker. I wanted to use the negative space so that I was left with only the letters on the jar. But, using the positive space (putting the image or letters on the jar and etching everything around it) would also create a really interesting effect.

Can you see my stencil? I used clear vinyl to create my design so that I could easily see if the glass had been etched.

Cut and position your stencil.

Cut and position your stencil.

Next, I grabbed a jar of glass etching cream. This stuff is fascinating – it will eat away a glass surface, but it doesn’t go through the vinyl stencil. Use a hard, smooth surface to get the etching cream into all the elements of your stencil evenly. A used-up gift card would be perfect for this purpose.

Spread glass etching cream evenly over your stencil.

Spread glass etching cream evenly over your stencil.

Once your design is covered with etching cream, you will want it to sit for a little while. Each brand differs with the length of time the cream needs to fully work on the glass, so check your instructions. Then, scrape off the excess cream. This is important for two reasons: first, you can more easily see if there are any parts of your design that did not get etched; also, it prevents the excess from getting on the clear parts of your glass surface as you remove the stencil.

Scrape off excess etching cream.

Scrape off excess etching cream.

Rinsing the jar stops the etching process. With your stencil still in place, run your glass under water to get off all remaining etching cream.

Rinse off etching cream to stop the process.

Rinse off etching cream to stop the process.

Remove your stencil and, voila, your jar is ready to go with you to the beach! Seriously, how cute did these turn out?

Peel off your stencil and view your keepsake jar.

Peel off your stencil and view your keepsake jar.

The kids love collecting shells, and this jar is the ideal place to display their collection. Of course, we had to have some of that white sand in our jar, too.

The kids had a great time filling the jar with sand and the "perfect" shells.

The kids had a great time filling the jar with sand and the “perfect” shells.

And, there you go, the final product, all filled and ready to bring a piece of the beach back to our house. I considered putting a family picture in the jar as an added touch, but once we got home, I never got around to it.

The final product.

DIY: Beach Keepsake Jar

What do you think? Is this something that your family would make for your trip to the beach?

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Robin took her first flight before she could walk. Because of her airline-employed father’s benefits package, travel was a way of life for her from an early age. A graduate of The University of Texas with a B.A. in English, she is a certified teacher who uses her degree everyday as she homeschools their two children. Her hobby is planning their next trip, which she is always doing.

Robin DufilhoDIY: Sand Keepsake Jar

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