Making a Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors)

Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 221 Posts
May 14, 2020

Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - finished jarBecause of my passion for family history, I created this decorative bottle to display emigrant ancestors. The bottle also serves as a nightlight by attaching a battery operated light to the inside of the lid of the bottle.


Total Time: 6 hours

Yield: 1


  • 1 large jar, preferably with sides (rectangular or square shaped panels)
  • mod podge and 3d mod podge
  • printed pictures and clip art
  • craft embellishments
  • jewelry bubble pendants
  • air dry clay, optional
  • small decorative ship, optional
  • chain
  • miscellaneous charms


  1. Make air dry clay according to Homemade Air Dry Clay and color it blue. Mold into bottom of jar to look like the ocean. Add "ship" to the clay and let dry until set. I used a ship found at at Goodwill and cut it down to fit the size of the jar. I wanted to display emigrant ancestors so using a ship inside the jar was a good way to represent the emigrants.
  2. Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - blue air dry clay on bottom of the bottle and the ship inside
  3. Choose pictures of your ancestors, small printed "artifacts" about your ancestor and other clip art from the country your ancestor emigrated from. I printed a small version of an obituary, a naturalization record, and a ship passenger list and reduced these to fit into the design for each panel of the jar. I also printed out old looking parchment paper for the background. In addition to the paper printouts, gather various embellishments. Design the layout. Each of the panels on my jar represents a different ancestor for a total of four emigrant ancestors, one from Italy, one from England, one from Norway, and one from Denmark.
  4. Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - printed paper embellishments
    Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - other possible embellishments

  5. Mod podge paper background to jar sides. Use three to four coats of mod podge. Use 3D mod podge to attach small clip art paper printouts. Let dry according to directions. Glue onto the jar. Glue on other embellishments if desired. I had some scrapbooking items, an old button, a flag, etc. For the lid I mod podged clip art and glued a clip art ship compass to the inside of a bottle cap using 3D mod podge.
  6. Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - background paper decoupaged to outside of jar
    Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - 3D mod podge used on paper embellishment
    Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - clipart ship and compass in a bottle cap, for lid
  7. Add "charms" to a piece of chain and attach it to the jar. I used some jewelry, an old key, a leather tag, an anchor charm, etc. To display the year of emigration, I used some jewelry bubble charms I purchased from Oriental Trading Company for around $3. I printed out the emigration year of the ancestor, and attached the year of emigration to the chain, one for each panel of the jar. Just be creative as to how you want to display your ancestor or ancestors using different craft embellishments and printouts and pictures.
  8. Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - bubble charms with the years of emigration
    Message on a Bottle (Emigrant Ancestors) - charms etc. on a bit of chain around the top of the jar

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 2


Gold Answer Medal for All Time! 617 Answers
May 16, 20200 found this helpful

this is super cool I love this!!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 221 Posts
May 17, 20200 found this helpful

Thank you!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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